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martin-luther-king-jr-influence-0Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on January 16 this year, just one day after Reverend Dr. King’s birthday. The holiday was first observed in 1986, after Ronald Regan signed it into law, but wasn’t officially celebrated in all 50 states until the year 2000.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on January 16 this year, just one day after Reverend Dr. King’s birthday. The holiday was first observed in 1986, after Ronald Regan signed it into law, but wasn’t officially celebrated in all 50 states until the year 2000.

Hotspots is celebrating this special day with a list of important gay African American figures.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-1Bayard Rustin

Most aren’t aware that behind the incredible Martin Luther King was an openly gay advisor Bayard Rustin. Rustin was a civil rights campaigner and chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was Rustin who counseled Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on techniques of nonviolent resistance after he traveled to India to learn the Ghandian technique.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-2James Baldwin

The openly gay American writer wrote many essays, plays and novels which include Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, Giovanni’s Room, and If Beale Street Could Talk. He lived in Paris, France much of his life to escape the American prejudice against blacks and homosexuals.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-3Alvin Ailey

Ailey is known for popularizing modern dance. The dancer and choreographer founded The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York and he has been credited with revolutionizing African-American participation in20th century concert dance.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-4Phil Reed

Reed was the first openly gay African American New York City Council Member plus the first openly HIV-positive member. He represented District 8 from1998-2005. He also served on the HIV Planning Council and did work with the Harvey Milk High School which serves LGBT and questioning youth.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-5Wanda Sykes

The Emmy Award-winning comedian and actor was the first African-American and first openly gay master of ceremonies for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Sykes came out in 2008 when she announced her own marriage while speaking at a rally for gay marriage.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-6Don Lemon

CNN Anchor Don Lemon came out last year and released his memoir Transparent which covers colorism in the black community, racism, homophobia, and sexual abuse. He won an Emmy Award for a special report on the real estate market in Chicago.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-7Andre Leon Talley

Now known as a judge on America’s Next Top Model, Talley was the former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine. A front-row regular at all of the glamorous fashion shows, he was ranked 45th in Out magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America” a few years ago.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-8E Lynn Harris

Author Harris started out byselling books out of his car. He eventually found success and had nine books on the New York Times Best Seller’s list. He is one of the first writers to explore being black and gay in works of fiction. African-American men living on the down-low was a subject he often wrote about.

martin-luther-king-jr-influence-9RuPaul

Ru burst onto the scene with the song “Supermodel (You Better Work).” No flash in the pan, the actor/supermodel/singer followed up with more hits, a talk show and movies. In 2008, Ru began producing and hosting the extremely popular RuPaul’s Drag Race, and followed it up with the just as popular Drag U.

These are just a few of the gay African Americans who have made an impact. The list could go on and on. Please take time to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision this holiday.

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