Alumni Spotlight: Queer Black History Month

 Over the course of Black History Month in February, A Wider Bridge alumn Nik Harris posted a picture and paragraph each day of a key QTPOC (queer/trans person of color) in US history. We are pleased to be able to share these with you. Nik is currently the LGBTQ Consumer Advocate for Florida Commissioner Nikki Fried.

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Marsha P. Johnson, pronouns she/her, was a trailblazing activist in the fight for queer liberation. A self-identified drag queen and trans woman, she was one of the prominent figures and key organizers of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Whether she threw the first brick or not, she can easily be acknowledged as one of the mothers of our current movement. Unashamed of who she was, she was as much a voice for Black liberation as she continued to be for gay liberation. Not only is she rarely discussed when learning about Black history, Black trans women are often also left out of gay history even when they were significant catalysts for action.

 

A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. It took 8 weeks to organize the march and Rustin did it without cell phones, email, or social media. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence. Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Mr. Rustin made news this week after he was posthumously pardoned by Governor Newsom of California.

 

Josephine Baker, pronouns she/her, was an American-born entertainer who found fame as a dancer, singer and actress in Paris. Sometimes called the “Jazz Cleopatra,” Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald in a poor neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. After facing abuse and racial discrimination in America, she moved to France in the 1920s where she became a celebrated performer and the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. Baker married and divorced four times and adopted 12 children of varying ethnic backgrounds, which she called “The Rainbow Tribe.” One son later described his mother as a bisexual, noting a relationship she had with the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Baker also has been linked romantically to the novelist Colette, fellow expatriate performer Bricktop and other women.

 

James Baldwin, pronouns he/him, was an African-American writer whose novels and essays captured the conflicted spirit of late 20th century America. James Baldwin, to whom many doors were closed by virtue of his poverty, his race, and his sexuality, was a prophet and truth-teller whose writing searingly delineates the soul and image of 20th century America. As a gay African-American, Baldwin struggled with his identity in a racist and homophobic society. His disgust with the racial climate in the post-World War II United States impelled him to move to Europe, where he wrote Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953) and his other early major works. His second novel, “Giovanni’s Room” (1956), deals explicitly with homosexuality. It was published at a time when few other writers dared to publish gay-themed works. After Baldwin returned to the United States in 1957, his writings increasingly reflected his engagement in the struggle for African-American civil rights. Baldwin declared that blacks and whites must find ways to come to terms with the past and make a future together or face destruction. His incorporation of gay themes evoked strong criticism from the black community. Following the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X in the late 1960’s, Baldwin returned to Europe and lived out his remaining years in the South of France, where he died in 1987.

 

Janet Mock, pronouns she/her, is an American writer, television host, director, producer and transgender rights activist. Her debut book, the memoir Redefining Realness, became a New York Times bestseller. She is a contributing editor for Marie Claire and a former staff editor of People magazine’s website. Last year, Mock, became the first black transgender woman to direct a major network television episode with FX drama “Pose.” She was named Harvard University’s 2019 Artist of the Year. Mock appeared as a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday for a segment titled, “Becoming Your Most Authentic Self” where she discussed “proudly and unapologetically” claiming her identities. Mock was named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders.She has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, Melissa Harris-Perry, The Colbert Report, and The Nightly Show.

 

Valencia Gunder, pronouns she/her, a graduate of Florida A&M University, is a powerhouse activist known throughout Florida as the “Modern Day Fannie Lou Hamer.” She is a leading voice on civil rights, criminal justice reform, gun violence, climate change, and low-income communities. Gunder is a Miami native of Bahamian descent, and grew up in Liberty City. She is the founder and CEO of Make the Homeless Smile, a nonprofit offering meals, showers, haircuts, and other basic but often unavailable services to homeless individuals in Miami and Atlanta. Gunder also works with the New Florida Majority and has made headlines in the aftermath of climate change disasters for her delivery of supplies and support to devastated communities. Gunder was a driving force for passage of Florida’s Dignity Act aimed at providing medically necessary products to incarcerated women and femmes, and preventing male correctional guards from entering areas where women undress. She is currently leading efforts to pass the Tammy Jackson Act which ensures protections for pregnant women in labor in correctional facilities. The League of Women Voters in Miami-Dade County selected Gunder as their 2020 Women Who Shine honoree.

 

Alice Walker, pronouns she/her, is a bisexual African American author and poet known for her substantive writing on the topics of race and gender. In 1983 Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her now-famous book The Color Purple, becoming the first Black woman to win the award. She was born and raised in Georgia and studied at both Spelman College in Atlanta and then at Sarah Lawrence in New York. While in New York she married a Jewish civil rights lawyer, Melvyn Leventhal. Soon after, she moved with her husband to Mississippi, making them the first legally married inter-racial couple in the state. Alice remains an avid activist to this day and is infamous for her involvement in several anti-war protests with the group Code Pink. Ms. Walker recently made headlines after speaking out about the firing of a homophobic British actor playing Celie on Broadway. Alice says it would be a “betrayal” for a homophobic actress to play the role of Celie Johnson. Walker, who has had relationships with both men and women, said she believes “sexual love can be extraordinarily holy, whoever might be engaging in it,” and that she urges readers to question the scriptures of all religions. “Love, however it may be expressed, is to be honored and welcomed into the light of our common survival as a consciously human, race.” “Playing the role of ‘Celie’ while not believing in her right to be loved, or to express her love in any way she chooses, would be a betrayal of women’s right to be free,” she concluded.

 

Janelle Monáe Robinson, pronouns they/them, is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer. They are signed to Atlantic Records, as well as their own imprint, the Wondaland Arts Society. Southern songstress Janelle Monáe recently clarified rumors surrounding their sexuality, revealing that they are pansexual, defined as someone not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender or gender identity. “Being a queer Black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women, I consider myself to be a free-ass mother*cker,” they told Rolling Stone in June 2018. “Later, I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with, too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am.” In 2016, Monáe made their theatrical film debut in two high-profile productions; starring in Hidden Figures as NASA mathematician and aerospace engineer Mary Jackson, and also starred in Moonlight. Hidden Figures was a box office success, while Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 89th annual ceremony. Monáe’s third studio album, Dirty Computer, also described as a concept album, was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim; it was chosen as the best album of the year by several publications and earned Monáe two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Monae recently opened the 2020 Oscars.

 

Arlinda “Tray” Johns, pronouns all-inclusive, is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of FedFam4Life a non-profit Sisterhood also co-founded by Foxxy Mason, President. Both formerly incarcerated Black, Gay Veteran Women. The couple, who married in 2017, conceived FedFam4Life to address the urgent need for Black Female leadership in the social justice movement. Tray Johns spent 8 years, 7 months and 19 days in federal prison for possession of less than $500 worth of drugs. While incarcerated, Johns became a skilled “Jailhouse Lawyer” and since being released, a prominent and fearless social justice activist and sought after public speaker. Fedfam recently moved to South Florida and is helping to lead the efforts for Dignity for incarcerated women across the state. Johns is The South Florida Criminal Justice Organizer for the New Florida Majority and is leading a series of Symposiums called ReformHER across the State that will bring the plight of incarcerated women to the forefront of the Criminal Justice Reform conversation. Their Dignity Program is paying fines and fees of women involved in the criminal justice system of Florida. Tray was quoted stating, “FedFam4Life is not about raising a million dollars, it’s about freeing a million women from the prison industrial complex. That includes the 219,000 that are incarcerated and the 1.2 million under the de facto imprisonment of parole or probation.

 

Billy Porter, pronouns he/him, is an American Broadway theater performer, singer, and actor. He is the first openly gay black man to receive an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. In 2013 he won Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots at the 67th Tony Awards. He credits the part for “cracking open” his feminine side to confront toxic masculinity. In 2014 Porter won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for Kinky Boots. He currently stars in the television series Pose for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award. He attended the Musical Theater program at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School’s School of Drama, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, and achieved fame performing on Broadway before starting a solo career as a singer and actor. Porter currently plays ballroom emcee Pray Tell on the FX series “Pose.” “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself, and halfway believed, before I was could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here,” Porter told the crowd, quoting James Baldwin. “I have the right, you have the right ― we all have the right!” Porter is openly gay and married his partner Adam Smith on January 14, 2017.

 

Robin René Roberts, pronouns she/her, is an American television broadcaster. Roberts is the anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA). After growing up in Mississippi and attending Southeastern Louisiana University, Roberts was a sports anchor for local TV and radio stations. Roberts was a sportscaster on ESPN for 15 years (1990–2005). Her treatment  for myelodysplastic syndrome was chronicled on GMA, which earned a 2012 Peabody Award for the coverage. Roberts was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2016. She publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation for the first time in late December 2013.

 

Laith Ashley, pronouns he/him, is a transgender model from New York, New York. Laith started transitioning on January 22, 2014. He studied Psychology at Fairfield University in Connecticut, and began modeling in 2015. He made headlines as one of the first transgender male models to appear in a national campaign and is represented by Slay, the first modeling agency for transgender models. Laith has been featured in shows for New York Fashion Week, Adrian Alicea and Gypsy Sport. He was selected for shooting and runway shows for Barney’s New York and Calvin Klein. He was the first trans male in the “Pit Crew” on RuPaul’s Drag Race and he starred in a Diesel campaign shot by David LaChapelle. As a trans male, Laith has experienced discrimination on all sides. In the LGBTQ community he is attacked for being binary. In non-queer society, cisgender men are misogynist. “I can grow my beard and have the biggest muscles, but for a lot of cis men I’m just a woman who took hormones.” Trans men are told to “man up” when they’re attacked. “Trans women experience violence in public,” says Laith. “With trans men the same happens in private. We’re told to be quiet.” Cases of sexual assault and domestic violence go undisclosed

 

Nadine Smith, pronouns she/her, is the Executive Director of Equality Florida, the state’s largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Smith attended the U.S. Air Force Academy after graduating High School in Panama City, but left after the passage of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1993. She earned her degree from the University of South Florida in Mass Communications. A former award-winning journalist, Smith has written syndicated columns for various gay and mainstream publications. In 1991, Smith was the first openly lesbian African-American to run for Tampa City Council, earning the most votes in the primary. She was one of four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington, and was part of the historic meeting between then – President Clinton and gay community leaders. Nadine has been named one of the state’s “Most Powerful and Influential Women ” by the Florida Diversity Council. She has received the League of Women Voters Woman of Distinction Award and in 2018 was named one of the 100 Most Influential Floridians by Influence Magazine. She currently serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee, and resides in St. Petersburg with her wife Andrea and son Logan.

 

Wanda Yvette Sykes, pronouns she/her, is an American actress, comedian, and writer. She was first recognized for her work as a writer on The Chris Rock Show, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America. She is also known for her roles on CBS’ The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006–10), HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm (2001–11), and ABC’s Black-ish (2015–present). In November 2008, she publicly came out as a lesbian while at a same-sex marriage rally in Las Vegas regarding Proposition 8. Sykes is currently promoting a new docuseries, “Visible: Out on Television,” which follows the rise of LGBTQ representation on TV and the impact it’s had on popular culture at large. The five-episode series debuts on Apple+ next month and features testimonials from Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Billy Porter and Ellen DeGeneres. Sykes married her wife Alex Niedbalski, a French woman, whom she had met in 2006. The couple also became parents in April 2009, when Alex gave birth to a pair of fraternal twins, a daughter and a son, named Olivia and Lucas.

 

André Leon Talley, pronouns he/him, is an American fashion journalist, who is the former American editor-at-large of Vogue magazine. He was born in Washington, D.C., and raised by his grandmother who he says gave him an “understanding of luxury.” Talley received his undergraduate degree in French Literature from North Carolina Central University, and his M.A. from Brown University in French Studies in 1973. He speaks French fluently and was set to begin work as a French teacher, but instead began working in 1974 at Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York City. That same year he volunteered for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He went on to work at Women’s Wear Daily, W, The New York Times and other publications before finally landing at Vogue, where he worked as the Fashion News Director from 1983 to 1987 and then as Creative Director from 1988 to 1995. He left Vogue and moved to Paris in 1995 to work for W. In 1998, he returned to Vogue as the editor-at-large until his departure in 2013 to pursue another editorial venture. Talley has also served as international editor of the Russian fashion magazine Numéro. He pushed top designers to have more African-American models in their shows. In April 2017, Talley began hosting his own radio show focusing on fashion and pop culture on Radio Andy, a Sirius XM satellite station. Talley is the subject of a documentary film, The Gospel According to André. Talley has been ranked as one of the most powerful people in the world by Out Magazine. To this day, Talley is an industry staple. He continues to influence, and inspire the fashion industry and creatives everywhere. Talley was quoted saying, “Wearing clothes should be a personal narrative of emotion. I always respond to fashion in an emotional way.”

 

Frank Ocean (born Christopher Edwin Cooksey), pronouns he/him, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and photographer. Ocean has written tracks for Justin Bieber and John Legend. He began his musical career as a ghostwriter, prior to joining hip hop collective Odd Future. In 2011 Ocean released Nostalgia, Ultra, his debut mixtape. The mixtape was a critical success and generated the single “Novacane”, which was on the Billboard Hot 100 and later certified platinum. In 2012 he released his second album, “Channel Orange.” The album shot to number two on the Billboard charts. On July 4, 2012, two days before releasing the album, he published an open letter on his Tumblr blog recounting unrequited feelings he had for another young man when he was 19 years old, citing it as his first true love. He used the blog to thank the man for his influence, and also thanked his mother and other friends, saying, “I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alright. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore… I feel like a free man.” Numerous celebrities publicly voiced their support for Ocean following his announcement, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Members of the hip hop industry generally responded positively to the announcement. Tyler, the Creator and other members of OFWGKTA tweeted their support for Ocean. In June 2016, following the Orlando gay nightclub shooting that killed 49 people, Ocean published an essay expressing his sadness and frustration. He mentioned that his first experience with biphobia was with his father when he was six years old, and related how many people pass on their hateful ideals to the next generation and send thousands of people down suicidal paths.

 

Audre Lorde, pronouns she/her, was a self described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and daughter of Caribbean immigrants. Lorde was a major contributor to the early American LGBT culture fostered in the bars of NYC. Her poetry was published regularly during the 1960’s, and the first volume of her poems The First Cities was released in 1968. Her work deals with the topics of love, betrayal, childbirth and her life as a lesbian and is politically focused around gay and lesbian rights as well as feminism. In 1980 Audre co-founded Kitchen Table, the first U.S. publisher for women of color. Lorde shocked even other feminists of her time with her progressive theories that racism, sexism, and homophobia were all linked in that they all come from an inability to respect difference. Lorde made lasting contributions in the fields of feminist theory, critical race studies and queer theory through her pedagogy and writing. Among her most notable works are “Coal” (1976), “The Black Unicorn” (1978), “The Cancer Journals” (1980) and “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” (1982). “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t,” Lorde once said.

 

Barbara Jordan, pronouns she/her, was a political activist, and fighter for marginalized communities. She was the first black American elected to the Texas House of Representatives after Reconstruction; as well as the first Southern black woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives. Barbara served three terms in the Texas State Senate from 1966-1972, including a term as the president pro tem of the senate. Barbara was the first black woman to hold this position and even served a day as the acting governor of Texas on June 10, 1972. Jordan sponsored or co-sponsored more 70 bills, most of which were in support of services for minorities and the underprivileged. In 1976 Jordan was asked to be the first black woman to give a keynote speech at the Democratic National Committee. President Clinton expressed a desire to nominate Barbara to the position of Supreme Court Justice however by the time a position was available Jordan’s health had deteriorated due to her struggle with multiple sclerosis. She died in 1996 due to complications with pneumonia with her companion of almost 30 years, Nancy Earl, by her side. Though Jordan wasn’t out as a lesbian, she made no secret of her life companion. Nancy Earl was an educational psychologist. After Jordan’s initial unsuccessful statewide races, advisers warned her to become more discreet and not bring any female companions on the campaign trail.

 

Lee Louis Daniels, pronouns he/him, is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter, director, and producer. He produced Monster’s Ball and directed Precious, which received six Oscar nominations, including Best Director; it won two of the awards. In 2012 his film “The Paperboy,” with Nicole Kidman, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Also in 2012, Daniels directed The Butler, starring Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Jane Fonda and Mariah Carey. The film portrayed unique events of 20th century presidents of the United States at the White House. Daniels was also a co-creator, and director of the tv series Empire and Star. Daniels survived a traumatic childhood. After being caught wearing his mother’s pumps, he was violently assaulted by his father. Torment also followed Daniels to school. He was gay and black in a predominantly white school. “I was always told that I was nothing because I was gay,” he said. At age 21, Daniels started a nurse-staffing agency, which he later sold, making him a millionaire. He then pursued his dream of working in entertainment. He first worked as a casting director and later as a talent manager. Daniels describes his sexuality as fluid and lives in Manhattan. He and his former partner were the first same sex couple to adopt in Philadelphia. They adopted Clara and Liam. “I’m not here to be a poster boy for the black experience, I’m not here to be a poster boy for the gay experience. I’m here for my kids. I want to tell the truth to them. I want to make sure they understand that it’s O.K. to be who they are.” Lee Daniels.

 

Alvin Ailey Jr., pronouns he/him, was an African-American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the most successful dance companies in the world. Ailey formed a multiracial company and revolutionized dance, incorporating elements of ballet and jazz, along with modern and African dance, into his work. Ailey grew up in Rogers, Texas, the son of a young, struggling single mother. His father abandoned the family when Ailey was six months old. In 1941, the family moved to Los Angeles, where Ailey met Lester Horton, who ran the first multiracial dance school. Horton took Ailey under his wing, teaching him a variety of dance styles and techniques. In 1954, Ailey made his Broadway debut dancing in “House of Flowers.” He also performed in “Sing, Man, Sing” with Harry Belafonte and in “Jamaica” with Lena Horne. In 1957, Ailey established the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The company’s premiere performance, “Blues Suite”—a riveting work reflecting the African-American emotional experience—defined Ailey’s theatrical and eclectic style. A prolific choreographer, Ailey created 79 original works for his company. “Revelations” (1960), recognized as his signature piece, is touted as the most-watched work of modern dance. “Cry” (1971), one of Ailey’s most successful works, was dedicated to his mother and African-American women. In 1979, Ailey received the Springarn Medal for outstanding achievement from the NAACP. In 1988, he was recognized with a Kennedy Center Honors Award. Ailey died at age 58 from complications of AIDS. Alicia Keys is set to executive produce a biopic based on his very complicated life.

 

William Roscoe Leake AKA Willi Ninja, pronouns he/him, was an American dancer and choreographer best known for his appearance in the documentary film Paris Is Burning. Ninja, a gay man known as the godfather of voguing, was a fixture of ball culture at Harlem’s drag balls who took inspiration from sources as far-flung as Fred Astaire and the world of haute couture to develop a unique style of dance and movement. While he did not create the form, he worked at refining it with clean, sharp movements to “an amazing level”. He caught the attention of Paris is Burning director Jennie Livingston, who featured Ninja prominently in the film. The film, a critical and box office success, served as a springboard for Ninja. He parlayed his appearance into performances with a number of dance troupes and choreography gigs. The film also documents the origins of “voguing”, a dance style in which competing ball-walkers freeze and “pose” in glamorous positions (as if being photographed for the cover of Vogue magazine). In 1989, Ninja starred in the music video for Malcolm McLaren’s song “Deep in Vogue”, which sampled the then-unfinished movie and brought Ninja’s style to the mainstream. One year after this, Madonna released her number one song “Vogue”, bringing further attention to the dancing style. Top models like Iman and Naomi Campbell early in their careers fell under his tutelage and much later, Paris Hilton. Ninja, Mother to House of Ninja, died of AIDS-related heart failure in New York City on September 2, 2006 at age 45. After his death, he has continued to inspire many artists and music DJs.

 

Laverne Cox, pronouns she/her, is an American actress and LGBTQ advocate. She rose to prominence with her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in any acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since composer Angela Morley in 1990. In 2015, she won a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, making her the first openly transgender woman to win the award. In 2017, she became the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV as Cameron Wirth on CBS’s Doubt. In June 2014, Cox became the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine (South African edition). She is also the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds. In 2014 when asked about previous surgeries by Katie Couric, Cox stated, “The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.” She was one of fifteen women chosen by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue; this made Cox the first openly transgender woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue

 

Tatiana Williams, pronouns she/her, is a Transgender Activist, Executive Director, HIV/AIDS Activist, and former Gay Pagentry national title holder. Tatiana has dedicated over 20 years of progressive work in mentoring, guiding, and supporting many in the LGBTQ Community in Florida and across the country. She credits her Pagentry days for providing the platform to increase her advocacy to educate on the importance of all Inclusive Healthcare within the LGBTQ Community. Tatiana currently oversees the HIV Department at the Pride Center, and is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of TransInclusive Group (TIG). TIG is a trans led organization working to build trust, and reduce discrimination and marginalization towards the trans community. Tatiana is also part of the Broward County Health Department Prevention Planning Council and the Ryan White System of Care Committee. Her other business is show business. Decked out in rhinestones, sequins and glitter, she performs under the name Tatiana Braxton. “I have no regrets about being the beautiful woman I am,” she once told the Daily Mail. Among her accomplishments is being crowned Miss Black Universe 2011, Miss Sweetheart International 2009, and being the 2020 Honoree for Oustanding Service and Leadership by the Human Rights Campaign South Florida.