It's Pride Month, and what better time to highlight amazing Black LGBTQ leaders and advocates killing it in business? Yep, now is the perfect occasion. These entrepreneurs and executives are providing spaces for inclusion, disrupting and innovating in fashion, tech, entertainment, and finance, and giving voice to the struggles, issues, and vibrancy of LGBTQ communities. They are exemplary examples of brilliance we all can admire and take a nod from in our own lives both professionally and personally.
Check them out below:
This power woman and mother is the first openly queer-identified Black woman to hold the position at the long-standing organization, and she's tasked with leading strategy to ensure equality and justice for LGBTQ people across the nation. The National LGBTQ Task Force works to fight against discrimination in housing, retirement, employment, healthcare, and more.
Kelsey Davis was a creative professional who worked for major companies including Conde Nast and created content for brands including Coca-Cola before launching her own firm that provides services for matching freelance creatives with Generation Z brands. It's the creating real opportunities for other young creatives to get to the bag for us.
If series like The Chi, Boomerang, Them, and Twenties, or films like Queen & Slim don't ring a bell, sis, you need to go ahead and pop from under that rock, subscribe to somebody's streaming service, and get caught up. Lena Waithe not only includes diverse depictions of LGBQT stories within her scripts, but she takes the advocacy further via the hiring practices and opportunities of Hillman Grad Productions.
This fab couple offers super-cool items that show just how rich and beautiful Black culture truly is, and they do it so stylishly. Together, Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy lead their Brooklyn shop and online community of more than 280,000 followers, offering a well-edited selection of collectibles, apparel, and heirlooms that would put any museum curator to shame.
Ariell Johnson's North Philly shop offers an array of comics that put inclusion and representation at the forefront. From books and magazines to toys and figurines, she provides a special selection of items that ensure all lovers of the genre can find something to enjoy and be inspired by, and she unapologetically includes LGBTQ sci-fi "geeks" and comic enthusiasts in the all.
A self-proclaimed "teaching artist," Natalie Patterson fosters growth, compassion, and integrity via workshops, breakout sessions, performances and lectures. Her client roster includes brands like Sephora, Uproxx, and the United Way, and sis will have you deeply moved with her poetry. Trust.
As if surviving homelessness, living out of an airport and building a venture capital fund isn't impressive enough, Arlan Hamilton has spent the last six years raising millions of dollars to support more than 170 companies founded by female, minority and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. And get into this latest win: A recent crowdfunding effort reached its $5 million goal via more than 7,000 supporters. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Way to get to that coin, sis!
Her company serves as an incubator to economically empower LGBTQ professionals and their allies by providing training for career skills. The platform particularly provides a forum for tools to fight against employment discrimination, and Angelica Ross, a self-taught programmer and actress known for her role on Pose as well as her work as a transgender rights activist, partners with brands and companies to foster training and employment opportunities.
These savvy businesswomen have been giving twin-rock star-Black girl magic energy since 2009 with their eyewear brand, worn by celebrities including Beyonce, Prince, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, and Lady Gaga. As a brand, Coco & Breezy has since expanded into a luxury retreat venture, DJing, and visual art projects. They're also huge in LGBQT activism, lending their voices, art, and platform of more than 170,000 followers and supporters to issues of advocacy and rights protections.
She's the soulful, ecclectic, tuxedo-wearing, boundary-pushing singer, producer and actress known for her roles in Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Antebellum. Janelle Monae is also a fierce artist mentor, record label exec, and LGBTQ rights activist who has identified as pansexual and rides for equal rights and freedom of expression for all. Word to Django Jane.
Featured image via Coco and Breezy/Instagram