Timeline of African and diasporic LGBT history

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This is a timeline of notable events in the history of non-heterosexual conforming people of African ancestry, who may identify as LGBTIQGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, third gender, gender nonconforming), men who have sex with men, or related culturally specific identities. This timeline includes events both in Africa, the Americas and Europe and in the global African diaspora, as the histories are very deeply linked.





  • The Kabaka of Buganda, Mwanga II, assumes the throne of his country at age 16. He sets about to drive out Christianity, Islam and European influence from the kingdom, and executes several of his Christian-converted male pages who refuse his sexual advances.[1]



  • December 24 - The Society for Human Rights, an advocacy organization for gay men, is chartered in Chicago; an African American clergyman named John T. Graves serves as the first and only president of the organization, and the organization publishes Friendship and Freedom, the first gay-interest publication in the United States. The Society collapses by the following summer.





  • At the behest of Asa Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin co-organizes the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, despite Senator Strom Thurmond railing against him as a "Communist, draft-dodger, and homosexual" and having his entire Pasadena arrest file entered in the record.[3] Despite his preference for behind-the-scenes work, Rustin becomes famous for his work. On September 6, 1963, a photograph of Rustin and Randolph appeared on the cover of Life magazine, identifying them as "the leaders" of the March.[4]


Black and Latino queer people are among the majority of patrons at the Stonewall Inn who riot against a police raid, resulting in the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement in the United States.




  • Johnson and Rivera establish the S.T.A.R. house, the first shelter for gay and trans street kids, and paid the rent for it with money they made themselves as sex workers.[6]



Glenn Burke becomes the first (and only) openly gay Major League Baseball (MLB) player, coming out as gay to teammates and team owners during his professional career and later acknowledging it in public.[10][11]


Sylvester releases his well-received disco album Step II.







  • The Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum was founded in 1987 in Los Angeles by Phill Wilson and Ruth Waters.


  • 4 March – South Africa passes the Immorality Amendment Act, 1988 imposes an age of consent of 19 for lesbian sex, which had previously been unregulated by the law. This was higher than the age of 16 applying to heterosexual sex.




  • November 7 - NBA player Magic Johnson, who is straight, holds a press conference to reveal that he is HIV-positive and retiring from the NBA. His announcement and subsequent activism helps to dispel public perceptions of HIV/AIDS as a "gay" or "drug addict" disease.




  • The Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum organizes an historic Black gay contingent in the Million Man March.


Burkina Faso equalizes age of consent.


  • Sexual orientation-inclusive Anti-discrimination is added to the constitution of South Africa.



  • 12 February – In the case of National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Home Affairs, three judges of the Cape Provincial Division of the High Court rule that it is unconstitutional for the government to provide immigration benefits to the foreign spouses of South Africans but not to the foreign same-sex partners of South Africans. The declaration of invalidity is suspended for one year to allow Parliament to correct the law.
  • May - Black AIDS Institute is founded by Phill Wilson.
  • 2 December – The Constitutional Court unanimously confirms the judgment of the High Court in the second National Coalition case, but removes the suspension of the order and instead "reads in" words to the law to immediately extend immigration benefits to same-sex partners.



  • South Africa passes PEPUDA, which prohibits discrimination, hate speech and harassment on numerous bases, including sexual orientation.




  • In an interview on New Dawn with Funmi, LGBT activist Bisi Alimi discloses his homosexuality, becoming the first person to voluntarily out themselves on Nigerian television.
  • Gordon Fox comes out as first openly gay African-American member of a state legislature, as well as the first openly gay member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
  • NBJC is extended an invitation by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond to attend the 2004 NAACP National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Sexual Minorities Uganda, an umbrella advocacy organization for LGBT Ugandans, is founded.
  • Cape Verde amends their penal code and became the second African country to legalize same-sex sexual acts. At the time of decriminalization, the legal age of consent was 16 years old, the same age for consensual heterosexual acts.[21]


  • 11 March – The Chief Justice instructs that the Equality Project case will be heard by the Constitutional Court simultaneously with the Fourie case.
  • October 27 - WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes comes out as lesbian.
  • 1 December – The Constitutional Court delivers its judgment in the Fourie and Equality Project cases (now known as Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie). The court rules that the common-law definition of marriage and the Marriage Act are unconstitutional because they do not allow same-sex couples to marry. The court suspends its order for one year to allow Parliament to rectify the discrimination.


  • January 1 - Texas transgender activist Monica Roberts launches her blog TransGriot, which focuses on transgender women of color.


  • California Proposition 8 passes a ban on same-sex marriages. The fallout from the ban includes criticism of African-American voters for voting for the ban.
  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace is banned in Cape Verde by articles 45(2) and 406(3) of the Labour Code.




  • February 11 - Gordon Fox is elected as the first openly gay African-American man to hold the speakership of a U.S. state legislature.[26]
  • NBJC holds first "Out On The Hill" (OOTH) Conference.
  • 2 November - A lawsuit by four Ugandan activists, including David Kato, Kasha Nabagesera, Nabirye Mariam and Pepe Julian Onziema, against the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone is granted by the High Court to force the paper to cease distribution of an article inciting violence against them and many others.


  • A resolution submitted by South Africa requesting a study on discrimination and sexual orientation (A/HRC/17/L.9/Rev.1) passed, 23 to 19 with 3 abstentions, in the UN Human Rights Council on 17 June 2011.[27] This is the first time that any United Nations body approved a resolution affirming the rights of LGBT people.[28]
  • Rashad Taylor comes out as the first openly gay male to serve in the Georgia General Assembly and the second openly gay African American male state legislator in the United States.
  • Marcus Brandon becomes first gay African-American male state legislator to be elected to office (North Carolina General Assembly).[29]
  • The Bahamas decriminalizes homosexuality.
  • June 5 - Minneapolis woman CeCe McDonald is arrested for the stabbing death of a man in purported self-defense after McDonald and her friends were assaulted outside a bar. Her case becomes a cause celebre for LGBT and African American civil rights activists.
  • September 20 - President Barack Obama signs repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.


  • Barack Obama, the first U.S. president of African descent, becomes the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage as a civil right.[30]
  • the NAACP passed a resolution in support of same-sex marriage.[31]
  • In June 2012, Diana King becomes first Jamaican reggae singer to come out as a lesbian.[32][33][34]
  • Kylar Broadus, a board member of the National Black Justice Coalition and founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), becomes the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate. He testifies in support of Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
  • Frank Ocean comes out as bisexual.
  • Lesotho decriminalizes male homosexuality; female homosexuality is already legal.





  • March: the Gaborone City Council unanimously approves a motion calling for the repeal of Botswana's criminalisation of same-sex sexual acts.[53]
  • November: Barbados Pride is held for the first time in Bridgetown[54][55]


  • Moonlight, a drama film directed by Barry Jenkins, becomes the first film with an all-black cast and first LGBT-centered film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • In August 2017, the first West Africa LGBT-Inclusive religious gathering occurred. Over 30 participants indigenous to ten West African countries, including Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, and Togo participated in an interfaith diversity event hosted by Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa with the theme of "Building Bridges, Sharing Stories, Creating Hope"[56]
  • September: the Botswana High Court rules that the refusal of the Registrar of National Registration to change a transgender man's gender marker was "unreasonable and violated his constitutional rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment".[57][58]
  • December: Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, 30, wins Botswana court case to legally recognise her gender change as a trans woman and receive a new identity card marking her as female before 2018.[59]



  • 23 January: Decriminalisation of homosexuality: Angola [60]
  • 11 June: Decriminalisation of homosexuality: Botswana [61]
  • Nigeria’s first lesbian-focused documentary film premiered; it is called “Under the Rainbow,” and largely focuses on the life of Pamela Adie, an out Nigerian lesbian.[62]


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  2. ^ Lewis 1978, p. 131.
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  4. ^ Life Magazine Archived November 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, 6 September 1963.
  5. ^ Giffney, Noreen (December 28, 2012). Queering the Non/Human. p. 252. ISBN 9781409491408. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Rapping With a Street Transvestite Revolutionary" in Out of the closets : voices of gay liberation. Douglas, c1972
  7. ^ The full text of the Combahee River Collective Statement is available here.
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  57. ^ Botswana: Activists Celebrate Botswana's Transgender Court Victory
  58. ^ Press Release: Botswana High Court Rules in Landmark Gender Identity Case
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