Meet The Native Son 101 Class of 2022

Meet The Native Son 101 Class of 2022

We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.”  —James Baldwin 

Black gay/queer men are not only the most brilliant beings on the planet, we are also the most resourceful and resilient. If you don’t believe me, let’s check some of the ancestral receipts.

William Dorsey Swann — who was born into slavery in 1858 — is reported to be the first queer person in America to lead a queer resistance group and the first person to self identify as a drag queen.

Bayard Rustin — who was arrested for having sex with another man in 1953 on a “moral charge” — was a power player in the Civil Rights Movement who not only encouraged Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to infuse nonviolence into his “I Have A Dream Speech”,  but he also organized the actual March On Washington along with A. Phillip Randolph in 1963.

Marlon Riggs dared to create a potent, pointed, and provocative documentary Tongues Untied in 1989 about being a Black gay man and centering issues about racism, homophobia, and the AIDS crisis which won numerous awards at film festivals internationally, but was ostracized by Black activists, clergy, and the political right and two years later the airing of the doc on PBS landed the controversial film in the middle of the culture wars and the National Endowment of the Arts funding of public TV.

If that isn’t enough evidence, simply scroll through this year's Native Son 101 List which highlights the impact of Black gay/queer men in 2022. These same gender loving men and nonbinary folks are literally innovating, breaking barriers, and making history across genres, industries, and disciplines. We are literally everywhere, making the world a better place, and reimagining what it means to live at the intersection of our Blackness and our queerness.

The Native Son 101 List is important because it lets the world know that Black gay/queer men are not just surviving but thriving. We are winning awards and elections, shifting culture and reimagining Hollywood, creating the latest fashions, and becoming firsts in politics, sports, and religion.

Historically, Black gay/queer men have existed in the shadows. The third annual 101 List shines a spotlight on the players who are shape-shifting our world, moving culture, and rewriting the narrative of what it means to be a Black gay/queer man now.

Congratulations to the Native Son 101 List Class of 2022!!!

Emil Wilbekin, Founder of Native Son

Illustrations by C.J. Robinson

Written by Emil Wilbekin, Eric Ford, Greg Emmanuel, Kelsey Minor, and Teddy Tinson

Special Thanks to Alvin McCray, Cori Murray, Hampton Carney, Kelsey Scott, Kiwan Anderson, Kyle Hagler, and Nina Flowers

Media Partner: The Cut

“I’m honored to have The Cut take part in Native Son’s 2022 edition. The list of changemakers are doing incredible work in their field, and we are excited to uplift them,” says THE CUT's Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Peoples. “Their impact goes beyond their industries and deep into communities. It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate these honorees who are audaciously making a difference.”

Introducing the Native Son 101 Class of 2022

Donate to Native Son to amplify the voices and visibility of Black gay and queer men.