Josephine Baker (1906 –1975) was an African-American dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the "Black Pearl," "Bronze Venus" and even the "Creole Goddess.”
Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a citizen of France in 1937. In Paris, she was an instant success for her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage. After a successful tour of Europe, she returned to France to star at the Folies Bergère, setting the standard for her future acts. Baker was married four times. During Baker's work with the Civil Rights Movement she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as “The Rainbow Tribe.” Josephine wanted to prove that "children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.” Her adopted son Jean-Claude Baker describes his mother as a bisexual, having had relationships with men and women.
Sahara Davenport (born Antoine Ashley, 1984 –2012) was an African-American drag queen, singer, reality television personality and classically trained dancer. He was best known as a contestant on the second season of “RuPaul's Drag Race.” A native of Dallas, Davenport began his drag career while attending Southern Methodist University. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dancing, he relocated to NYC where he began performing regularly at many gay bars and nightclubs throughout the city. Davenport died in 2012 of heart failure. He was 27. Prior to his death he lived in NY with his boyfriend Karl Westerberg (Manila Luzon), who was a contestant and runner-up on the third season of “RuPaul's Drag Race.”
Angela Davis (January 26, 1944) is an African-American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. She founded Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. She is a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a former director of the university's Feminist Studies department. The Rolling Stones song "Sweet Black Angel" released in 1972 is dedicated to Davis and is one of the band's few overtly political releases. John Lennon recorded "Angela" on the 1972 album Some Time in New York City. She came out as a lesbian in 1997.
The Lady Chablis (March 11, 1957) is an African-American drag queen entertainer. Chablis became famous in the early 1990s when she was featured as one of Savannah’s colorful characters in John Berendt’s book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” based on a true crime story. In the book, Chablis and her larger-than-life adventures provided a counterbalance to the darker narrative of murder that was central to the book. Chablis played herself in the 1997 movie of the same title, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack. Chablis made several appearances on talk shows when the book and the movie were released. She still performs at her "home" the Club One in Savannah and continues to travel the U.S. performing at various venues including The Alibi in Wilton Manors, special events, and gay pride gatherings.
Jason Bartlett (April 9, 1966) is an African-American businessman and politician from Connecticut. A Democrat, he was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. Although his district was 96% white, he served for a time as the country's only openly gay, black state legislator, a distinction he lost when Simone Bell was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in December 2009. He also worked for the National Black Justice Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending racism and homophobia by empowering Black LGBT people.
Meshell Ndegeocello (August 29, 1968) is an African-American singer-songwriter, rapper, bassist, and vocalist. Her music incorporates a wide variety of influences, including funk, soul, jazz, hip-hop, reggae and rock. She has had 10 career Grammy Award nominations and has been credited for having “sparked the neo-soul movement.” Ndegeocello is bisexual and previously had a relationship with feminist author Rebecca Walker.
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Pier Angelo was born in Italy, moved to England at the age of 17 and learned English at the Nelson School of English. He attended college and graduate school in Manhattan. In 2009 he founded SFGN with Norm Kent. Now he’s retired with his husband Tom and his Affenpinscher Cabbage. He still enjoys writing his column Off The Wall for SFGN.