Black history is American history, and the LGBTQ movement is inextricably linked to Black activists and thought-leaders who’ve helped shape the community into what it is today. There wouldn’t be Pride Month without Black trans women like Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie, who have just begun to gain widespread recognition for their pivotal roles in the battle for liberation. Black queer people from Audre Lorde to Alice Walker and James Baldwin are to thank for their indelible leadership across generations—and Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, Black queer women who co-founded Black Lives Matter, are at the helm of today’s worldwide civil rights movement.
Whether you’re reading this during Black History Month, Pride Month, or any other time of year, it’s a good day to use your buying power to uplift Black queer creatives. Not only are Black-owned brands twice as likely to get rejected for loans, but the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the Black community. Even still, modern-day artists and entrepreneurs continue to push boundaries with their work, bringing us fashion with a message, chic home objects, and vintage curation with unique perspectives.
It’s impossible to encapsulate all of the Black LGBTQ innovators changing the game, but you can shop a selection of brands we’re loving at the moment below—and when you’re done, hop over to our favorite Black-owned brands and LGBTQ+ businesses.
No Sesso (meaning “no gender” in Italian) challenges “the conventions of fashion, art, culture and design” and focuses on empowering people of all colors, shapes, and identities. As the first trans designer to show at New York Fashion Week, Perrie Davies is working to build a safe space for underrepresented community members in a notoriously exclusive industry.
Nicole Zizi puts sustainability at the forefront of her brand, creating premium streetwear from recycled and ethically made materials. The line offers minimalist sweatsuits ideal for working from home, and sleek fanny packs for when you’re on the go.
Dubbed the Bushwick Birkin, the Telfar Shopping Bag has been spotted on everyone from Solange to Selena Gomez, and the genderless label is one to know. Queer Liberian American designer Telfar Clemens, 2017 winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, is a pioneer in genderless fashion, and challenges the often rigid high-fashion arena with utilitarian designs at more accessible price points.
James Flemons is the designer behind the (somewhat) eponymous label, Phlemuns. It’s a unisex clothing brand that has graced the likes of Solange and Lil Nas X. Merging unisex androgyny with classic silhouettes, designer James Flemons juxtaposes the feminine and masculine with thoughtful designs intended to last a lifetime.
Writer, artist, and actress Rinny Perkins is particularly skilled at sending necessary messages with graphic design, reminding everyone of the importance of intersectionality, paying Black women, and prioritizing the female orgasm. Leave it to her retro designs to put a cool vibe on any barren wall or surface in your space.
This Brooklyn business is built on a motivation to curate a collection that mirrors Black cultural expression and lived experiences. Founders Jannah Handy and Kiyanna Stewart offer a variety of one-of-a-kind collectibles including vinyl, clothing, art, and accessories at their BedStuy shop (temporarily closed) and online. You don’t come across unique vintage gems like this every day.
Based in Philly, Two Minds Press is a queer, Black one-woman show bringing us silkscreen pressed handprinted clothing, accessories, and prints.
Founded in 2009 by twin designers Corianna and Brianna Dotson, the NYC-based Coco and Breezy Eyewear offers optical glasses and sunglassess that don’t sacrifice form or function. According to the brand, “Eyewear is the outfit and your clothing is the accessory.”
Bloom and Plume Coffee is a beloved East L.A. shop inspired by the South African philosophy Ubuntu, meaning “I am because you are.” Founded by Maurice Harris and his brother, the company is dedicated to providing a place of belonging for people from all walks of life. Get merch online, and if you’re nearby, the shop is open for curbside pickup.
The Show & Tell Concept Shop is an Oakland-based platform “for unique, vibrant, inclusive style that promotes bold beauty and joyful living.” Founded in 2011, the shop carries its own handmade collection, as well as an evolving selection of ethical and sustainable goods from like-minded brands.
With an emphasis on superior construction, movement, textures, Kenneth Nicholson is redefining what menswear looks like. He began hosting fashion presentations at 14, and has served in the U.S. Navy and traveled the world for global inspiration that can be found all throughout the line.
Stuzo Clothing is a genderless clothing company founded by a queer POC couple. Shop hats, masks, and statement button-downs with eye-catching prints and phrases.
Shop timeless streetwear and objects from the multifaceted brand by rapper and barber Gaia Earthpeace, and keep an eye out for events once the world opens back up.
Infuse your style with global accents by Makoma, a lifestyle brand inspired by the African diaspora. The brand offers one-of-a-kind contemporary designs via the site and monthly pop-up shops, which will put a unique spin on a coat rack near you.
Shop gender neutral tees plus masks and accessories with a message from A Tribe Called Queer, an L.A.-based QBIPOC-owned shop, zine, podcast, and events brand by Sabine Maxine Lopez.
Crystal lovers, get into Black Queer Magic. The brand was founded by Vanessa Miller, a self-taught jeweler and social worker who merges their love of community activism and therapeutic interventions with jewelry design. “Jewelry has given me the freedom to express my identity and to find myself over, and over again,” Miller shared on the site.