As we celebrate historical leaders and abolitionists that resurface each February and commemorate other Black leaders who have transformed America, each in their own profound way, let us also continue honor those in our community today who deserve their accolades.

Black History Month gives us opportunity to have well-intentional conversations about the contributions and accomplishments of Black folks. Recognizable names are talked about for their writings and how they speak truth to their Black experience. It is always about slavery abolition or the civil rights movement in the 1960s, important parts of our history. But it's never about an aspect of Blackness just as important - our LGBTQ history.

Despite being part of the LGBTQ community, the experience of prominent Black figures in history is often relegated to just their Blackness, reducing their lives to a single aspect that minimizes their struggles and accomplishments. Many famous names like authors James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry are discussed without once mentioning their sexuality.

Also, other notable Black members of the LGBTQ community include Langston Hughes, Little Richard, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Miss Major and Angela Davis. All are incredibly important names in both their art and the civil rights movement, but this pattern of erasing aspects of their gender identity has largely gone unnoticed.

So, as we honor the experiences of our LGBTQIA+ community, Diversity Richmond, in its fifth year, celebrates the Black and Bold Awards. These awards honor the Black leaders in our community who have created change. Each person recognized this year has their own personal journey that has contributed to conservations about Black representation, identity, and diversity in our community today.

Luise "Cheezi" Farmer
Board Chair, Diversity Richmond