“As long as there have been black people, there have been black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving people,” David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, told NBC News. “Racism combined with the forces of stigma, phobia, discrimination and bias associated with gender and sexuality have too often erased the contributions of members of our community.”

In celebration of Black History Month, NBC honours black LGBTQ pioneers of the past and the present and celebrate their oft-forgotten contributions in this inspiring article.