So what is the power list? We wanted to celebrate some of the most visible and influential out and proud women of color in entertainment, sports, media, and business whose works are putting a visible face and powerful voice behind the LGBT community of color and into the eyes of mainstream media.
Here is our 2009 ‘GayGirlsGuide’ Power List of the most influential queer women of color.
Having been named one of the funniest stand up comedians by her peers, Sykes’ quick-witted, in your face style of comedy has garnered the comedian and writer a multitude of nominations and awards including four Emmy Awards. Sykes’, always a supporter of equal rights for women and the LGBT community, came out publicly about her marriage after expressing outrage over Proposition 8 at a California rally. She is now the host of her own nightly talk show, The Wanda Sykes Show featured Saturday at 10pm.
The Indian born, American activist has spent over 25 years promoting civil rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Vaid is currently executive director of the Arcus Foundation, whose mission is “to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity, and race, and to ensure conservation and respect of the great apes.” The foundation gives more than any other grant-maker to charities that advance gay rights. Vaid has been partnered for 20 years with comic and writer Kate Clinton, who has said, “my gal pal and I recently reconfirmed our own vows not to marry. We do, however, vigorously support the freedom of others to marry.”
A spoken word poet performing artist and political activist, Stacey-Ann Chin’s work has been published in the New York Times , the Washington Post , and the Pittsburgh Daily , and has being featured on 60 Minutes . In addition to performing in and co-writing the Tony-nominated Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam Broadway, Chin has appeared in Off-Broadway one-woman shows and at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Her memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, released earlier this summer follows her life as a young woman in Jamaica and an out artist in America. She is currently working on a documentary, Baby Makes Me, on the chronicles of queer women choosing to raise children as single parents.
The daughter of a devotedly religious mother and a strict military father, Me’shell Ndegéocello is a singer, songwriter, rapper, bassist, and multi-instrumentalist. The music press has hailed her as a redeemer of soul music. Her music incorporates funk, soul, hip hop, reggae, R&B, rock and jazz. She has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards.
Some of us may first recognize her from a cameo appearance on Season 4 of the L Word, but this Atlanta born, Washington D.C. bred singer-songwriter is a well-known and respected veteran to the live music scene. She quickly made a name for herself after being tapped to open for Lenny Kravitz on his first world tour. Along with her band, Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely, the genre-bending artist has shared the stage with numerous musicians including Nona Hendryx, Pete Seeger, Chocolate Genius, Dar Williams and Ani Difranco.
Award-winning journalist, Jasmyne Cannick is known for addressing the issues that others can’t or simply won’t. She is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who addresses the intersection of race, class, religion and gender in the African-American community as played out in today’s pop culture and politics. She was selected as one of ESSENCE magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World.
Pam Spaulding is the editor and publisher of Pam’s House Blend ( pamshouseblend.com ), honored as “Best LGBT Blog” in the 2005 and 2006 Weblog Awards. The Blend, which averages 120,000 visitors a month, was launched in July 2004 as a personal response to the anti-gay state of the political landscape. A regular contributor to the progressive blog Pandagon.net, Pam has also guest posted/contributed to Americablog, Firedoglake, The Rude Pundit, OurChart.com, The Bilerico Project, Glenn Greenwald’s Unclaimed Territory on Salon, and written for The Independent Weekly .
Sheryl Denise Swoopes was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic gold medals and is a three-time WNBA most valuable player. Frequently referred to as the “female Michael Jordan,” Swoopes is famous for her offensive and defensive skills. In 2005, she averaged 18.6 points, 4.3 assists, 2.65 steals, and she shot 85 percent from the free-throw line while averaging 37.1 minutes playing time per game.
The current co-chair and board member of GLAAD, the largest media advocacy organization for the LGBT community, Yvette Burton is also Global Business Development Executive with GLBT and Human Capital Management Segments of IBM Global Services. She is a founding Board Director for New York City’s Audre Lorde Project, former Board Director for Empire State Pride Agenda, and former Director of Lesbian Health for the City of New York.
Angela Davis, an American socialist organizer and professor once associated with the Black Panther Party, first achieved nationwide notoriety when she was linked to the murder of Judge Harold Haley during an attempted prison break. She was a fugitive but was eventually captured, arrested, tried; she was then acquitted in one of the most famous trials in recent history. She is now a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
U People’s Hanifah Walidah and Olive Demetrius
Walidah, a hip-hop artist, playwright, actor, music video maker, and filmmaker is a part of the renowned Brooklyn Funk Essentials who have toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. Along with her partner, filmmaker Olive Demetrius, they are the producers of the ground-breaking rocumentary, U People, which will be the first LGBT film screened at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee on October 3rd.
Rap duo, consisting of Mt. Vernon, NY bred emcees Nor and IQ are two of the hottest and most sought after producers and writers in the industry. Refusing the sacrifice their indinity or voice for major-label satisfaction, they formed production Noriq Records where they have written and produced two albums and an EP titled, “Rock Star” . Their single, Make-Up Girl was named 2008 new video of the year at the Afterellen.com Visibility Awards and the group has been featured in Out, Curve, and the Village Voice.