A huge number of the blues artists who initially defined and popularized the blues genre were bisexual or lesbian Black women. And drag, gender non-conformity, and same-sex relationships were extremely common in the early days of blues’ popularity. Throughout blues’ history, there have been many Black queer blues artists who’ve shaped and contributed to the art form.
Just a few of the many Black queer blues & jazz artists are Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Gladys Bentley, Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, Tony Jackson, Billie Holiday, Billy Strayhorn, Sippie Wallace, Billy Wright, James Booker, Alberta Hunter, and Gaye Adegbalola. Look up their music & info about them online!
- Article on queer history of blues and why we aren’t told about it: https://obsidiantea.com/pride-becomes-wrath/
- “Bessie” starring Queen Latifah & Mo’Nique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acc29FvNEA4 (also available on HBO)
- Black Pearls by Daphne Duval Harrison: https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/986975075