top of page



Black woman smiling wearing a white shirt and red blazer

(Photo credit: Ryan Stopera)

Andrea Jenkins, born on May 10, 1961, in Chicago, made history as the first Black, openly transgender woman elected to public office in the U.S. Raised by her mother, Shirley Green, Jenkins developed a love for literature and poetry after meeting poet Gwendolyn Brooks. 

Jenkins faced racial stereotyping at the University of Minnesota and was expelled from a fraternity after being outed. Returning to Chicago, she worked on Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign and later embraced her identity as a trans woman. Jenkins pursued higher education and began her political career in 2001, becoming an aide to Minneapolis City Council member Elizabeth Giddens. 

Jenkins earned a 2011 Bush Fellowship for her work on transgender issues and later created the Transgender Oral History Project. In 2017, she won a City Council seat, and in 2022, she was re-elected and became Council President. Following George Floyd’s murder in her district, Jenkins focused on addressing systemic racism, police accountability, and improving community resources, serving as an inspiration to many.

Learn more about Andrea Jenkins here


Black and white photograph of Black woman standing in front of chalkboard

(Photo credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Audre Lorde, born on February 18, 1934, in Manhattan, New York to Grenadian immigrants, was a renowned poet and author. Audre Lorde used her writing to shed light on her experiences as a Black lesbian, woman, mother, and later in life, a cancer patient. Audre connected with poetry from a young age, publishing her first poem in Seventeen magazine as a teenager. Her literary career began with her first volume of poetry in 1968 and included notable works like "The Cancer Journals'' and "Sister Outsider." 

Her writing explored the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, laying the groundwork for the concept of intersectionality, later coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw. Lorde's "I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Multiple Sexualities” emphasized the inseparability of her struggles with blackness and womanness. 

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977, Lorde wrote "The Cancer Journals" to address the isolation she felt as a Black lesbian woman. She continued to advocate for marginalized communities until she passed in 1992. Lorde received numerous honors during her lifetime, including being named the Poet Laureate of New York. Audre Lorde was a prominent leader of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights and her legacy continues to inspire future generations of activists and writers. 

Learn more about Audre Lorde here


Black and white photograph of Black woman with short haircut

(Photo credit: Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University)

June Jordan, born July 9, 1936, in Harlem, New York, was a highly acclaimed Jamaican American writer known for her strong commitment to human rights and political activism. Despite facing a difficult childhood, she pursued poetry from a young age. Over her career, she produced 27 volumes of poems, essays, libretti, and children's works, engaging with issues like civil rights, women's rights, and sexual freedom. Jordan's poetry is distinguished by its immediacy, accessibility, and autobiographical elements, frequently centering on identity and personal experiences. She envisioned global unity among marginalized communities and used vernacular English to discuss family, bisexuality, political oppression, and racial inequality in her works. 

Jordan received numerous awards and fellowships and was deeply concerned with children’s literature and education. Her works for young readers included pieces such as “His Own Where” and “Kimako’s Story”. In her memoir, she detailed her own challenging upbringing and complex relationship with her father. 

In 2002, Jordan passed away, yet her profound commitment to social justice and her ability to connect with readers through her powerful words continue to inspire generations.

Learn more about June Jordan here


Black man wearing a suit standing next to the American flag

(Photo credit: (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Ron Oden, born March 20, 1950, in Detroit, Michigan, made history as the first Black openly LGBTQ+ person elected mayor in the U.S. Raised with strong values of faith, hard work, and service, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Wayne State University and a Master's degree in Divinity from Andrews University. Moving to Palm Springs, California, in the late 1990s, Oden worked as a Sociology instructor and pastoral care consultant. Elected to the Palm Springs City Council in 1995, he became mayor in 2003, focusing on promoting diversity through various human rights initiatives. Honored with the 300th Golden Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 2007, Oden remains active in the community after his mayoral term ended.

Learn more about Ron Oden here

#5 Brittney Griner

Black woman wearing a basketball jersey

Brittney Griner, born October 18, 1990, in Houston, Texas, is a trailblazing athlete and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. She became the first openly gay athlete sponsored by Nike in 2013 and has since worked to increase visibility and acceptance in sports. A standout basketball talent from a young age, Griner's high school dunking ability garnered national attention. She excelled at Baylor University, setting records and leading her team to an undefeated season and NCAA Championship in 2012. Selected as the first overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury, Griner's professional career includes numerous accolades, such as two WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and two Olympic gold medals. She also played internationally, but her 2022 detention in Russia became a high-profile case, resulting in her release after a prisoner swap. Griner continues to impact basketball and champion social justice and LGBTQ+ rights.

Learn more about Brittney Griner here 


Black woman smiling wearing a burgundy dress

(Photo credit: Getty | Christopher Polk)

Laverne Cox, born May 29, 1972, in Mobile, Alabama, became the first openly transgender person nominated for an Emmy. Raised by her mother with her twin brother, Cox was a creative child who loved dance. However, she faced bullying due to her feminine personality, which led to a suicide attempt at age 11. She pursued her passion with a scholarship to the Alabama School of Fine Arts,  after which she transferred from Indiana University to Marymount Manhattan College, where she graduated with a BFA in Dance. In New York, Cox's acting career blossomed despite challenges as an openly trans actress. Her breakthrough came with the role of Sophia Burset in "Orange is the New Black," leading to her historic Emmy nomination in 2014 and a cover on TIME magazine. Beyond acting, Cox is a prominent advocate for transgender rights, using her platform to promote acceptance and understanding, making her a key figure in the fight for transgender visibility.

Learn more about Laverne Cox here


Black and white man smiling and sitting next to each other

(Photo credit: Voices for Birth Justice)

Gary Thompson, born April 24, 1951, in New Jersey, was a dedicated father, grandfather, Fatherhood Services Coordinator, and PTBi Community Advisory Board Member. Growing up during the Civil Rights Movement, he witnessed significant strides toward equality. As an adult, he focused on the disproportionate impact of preterm birth on the Black community which influenced his commitment to advocacy. His advocacy was deeply rooted in the loss of his first child due to preterm birth during his sophomore year at Ohio State University, an experience marked by little support and significant personal struggle. 

Thompson's commitment to decolonizing birthing practices and promoting communal support systems led him to emphasize the importance of engaging fathers in childbirth. He believed strengthening support systems for fathers and mothers was crucial. Despite his personal challenges, including coming out as gay later in life, Thompson's work with PTBi made significant contributions to the well-being of Black families. He passed away on January 30, 2022, leaving a legacy of advocacy and support for young parents. We were proud to share Thompson’s story during our Black Maternal Health Exhibit thanks to Voices for Birth Justice Fresno’s partnership. 

Read more about Gary Thompson through their storyteller gallery here

Resources for the LGBTQ+ Community:

A list of Central Valley organizations and resources

LGBTQ+ Resource Center provides supportive services to enhance the health and well being of individuals of all ages in the LGBTQ+ community. Serving all individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, HIV, and questioning community members in the Fresno County area.

Services include:

  • Access to resources in a safe and inclusive environment.

  • Virtual Peer Support Groups

  • Referrals to Outside Help

  • Advocacy

  • Case Management

  • Housing Needs Assessment

  • Trauma-informed Care

News, Resources and the latest LGBTQ information

This free and confidential hotline is available 24/7 to connect you with a crisis counselor. Call at 1-866-488-7386 or text at 678-678

This free hotline is for trans people by trans people. This resource connects trans people to community support and resources needed to thrive. Connect with someone Monday - Friday, 10am - 6pm (PST) at 877-565-8860

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a 24/7 hotline for people who are in a crisis, have thoughts of suicide, or just need someone to talk to. Call or text 988. You can also chat at


bottom of page