Being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community can be a pretty rough experience, especially in areas where there isn’t exactly a lot for out and proud gay or queer people out there.
The same is doubly true for people who, on top of facing discrimination for their gender representation and sexual orientation, have to face discrimination on a day-to-day basis because of their race too.
However, the plethora of people out there in Hollywood who are African-American, whilst also being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the number of faces that join and come out as part of it, is a reassuring sight for millions of young faces to see.
In this list, we are going to show you some of the most celebrities out there that are gay, from a range of professions and backgrounds.
Lil Nas X
Starting this list with one of the world’s most famous rising stars, rapper and singer Lil Nas X has taken the world by storm, following his debut single ‘Old Town Road’ in 2019, and his debut studio album ‘Montero’ in 2021.
‘Old Town Road’ spent 19 weeks at the number 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100, the longest in the chart’s history. It was during this record-breaking period that Lil Nas X would come out as gay.
Considering that he was the only artist to do this while having a number-one record at the same time, he is a groundbreaking musician in more ways than one!
When you couple this with the countless awards he has won since his debut just three years, ago, among which is the Country Music Association (the first openly out LGBTQ+ artist to do so as well), all at the age of 22, and you can see why he has become an icon of the latest wave of LGBTQIA+ celebrities.
Dalila Ali Rajah
Dalila Ali Rajah, an Iconic actress, and writer another out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, has won a massive number of awards for her work, such as America’s Rainbow Film Festival Award for Best Female Actor and Best Feature for Narrative for the 2016 film Quiet as Kept, and a variety of awards as a credited writer for Secrets & Toys, released in 2014.
Dalila has also been vocal in her criticism and thoughts on the difficulty of bringing increasing diversity of casting directors in film and television too, noting how many people who are in charge of these filmmaking aspects will often ‘stick to what they know’ and how that often tends to be geared towards white audiences.
RuPaul Andre Charles
Come one, who hasn’t heard of RuPaul at this point?
One of the older entries on this list, RuPaul has been an out icon of the Gay and wider LGBTQ+ community since the mid-90s.
Born in San Diego California in 1960, RuPaul has been a musician and performer since the mid-80s, with his debut album Star Booty, as well as performing at nightclubs both in Georgia, then New York City throughout the 80s and 90s.
RuPaul is best known as a Drag Queen and TV personality and is probably best known for hosting RuPaul’s Drag Race since 2009.
Arguably the most famous drag queen in the world currently, RuPaul has enjoyed success across the globe, with the many regional versions of Drag Race becoming hits, as well as hosting several other shows as well, such as Skin Wars and Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul
Jussie Smollet, best known for his role as Jamal Lyon in the hit Fox drama Empire, confirmed to the public that he was gay during his appearance on The Ellen Show.
His role on Empire was widely regarded as an amazing depiction of openly gay black actors on television and has also gone on to appear in many major movie roles too, such as in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant in 2017, as well as in the biographical movie Marshall in the same year.
For another well-known African American face on television, we have Blake Young-Fountain.
Growing up in St. Louis in Missouri, Blake was named after his mother’s favorite character in the long-running 80s soap opera Dynasty.
Blake has starred in several major roles across both screen and television, including in The Mindy Project and Grownish.
Up next, we have a gay actor whose first major role was playing a gay character in Patrik-Ian Polk’s coming-of-age drama Blackbird, we have John Walker.
Both John Walker himself and the director of the film Patrik-Ian Polk, who is also openly gay, have spoken on numerous occasions about the importance of exploring the intersection between being a part of both the African-American diaspora and a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
John Walker is a capable actor and is confident that he could portray a straight character if a future role demanded it of him.
However, he has also stated that his background (being a person who grew up gay in a religious household) helps bring authenticity to the roles that he has played so far, and hopes to carry with him into the future.
For another up-and-coming gay icon of the African-American community, we have Lena Waithe, Hollywood writer, producer, and actor.
Growing up in Chicago in the mid to late 80s, Waithe knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer for television.
Encouraged by her family from early in her childhood, Lean Waithe would eventually become a writer on the Fox tv series Bones, before going on to write and produce for a massive variety of television series, including writing for The Chi
Waithe has only gone from strength to strength in the following years, and is heavily involved in acting, writing, and producing a massive range of projects, whilst also using her newfound prestige to help people of the African-American community to get started in the entertainment industry.
Many celebrities often do not come out until they are well established in their careers.
A great example of an accomplished celebrity that fits into this mold is a much-loved comedian, actress, and writer Wanda Sykes, known for her work on The Chris Rock Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm in the 2000s, amongst a massive library of other projects she has worked on over the years.
Although she was previously married to Dave Hall for 7 years in the 1990s, Wanda Sykes would come out as a lesbian in 2008 in response to the proposition 8 bills in Florida that threatened to ban gay marriage in the state.
Sykes has been in a relationship with Alex Niedbalski since 2006, which initially put a strain on her relationship with her conservative parents, although they have since reconciled.
Despite being only 29, actor and singer Alex Newell has been out and proud in the spotlight since their late teens, competing in the reality show The Glee Project, and would eventually go on to star in the series proper as Wade ‘Unique’ Adam, a shy transgender teenager who expressed their identity through song.
Portraying an out transgender character in 2010, in a prime-time television show, made their transgender character one of the most visible and high-profile of the time.
Newell has since continued acting after Glee concluded, and has also since gone on to spawn a successful music career over the last 10 years.
Time for an entry for all the early to mid-2000s kids reading this list!
Raven-Symone, known more popularly as simply ‘Raven’, has been a high-profile singer and actress since she was a child.
She is probably best known for playing the role of Raven Baxter in the Disney Channel series That’s So Raven, for which she has been nominated for many awards, but has since gone on to act, produce, and direct many television series, as well as a successful singing career alongside her other work.
Whilst Raven-Symone herself has rejected any labels in terms of her race or sexuality, she has been in multiple same-sex relationships, and supported the legalization of gay marriage.
Keiynan Lonsdale is a noted singer/songwriter, dancer, and actor, that first gained widespread recognition in ABC’s Dance Academy, but has also become well-known as the superhero Kid Flash in the CW series The Flash, and other wider ‘Arrowverse’ properties.
Lonsdale would publicly come out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and described himself as gay in a 2022 BuzzFeed interview, although Lonsdale has previously posted about their sexual identity on various social media platforms over the past several years.
So, as you can see from the names that we have mentioned here, there are plenty of people who are a part of the African-American and wider black community who are comfortable being identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
We hope that these people, and others like them, help encourage more people in the future to be comfortable expressing themselves as they wish.