2022 Black History Month Honors: Living Legends

For our 3rd Annual Black History Month Honors series, we are highlighting several brilliant BLACK transgender people who remind us of what radical love looks like out loud. These are individuals who embody the MPJI’s value of passion. Passion fuels how we celebrate our successes, demonstrate our rage, encourage joy for ourselves, and with each other, explore our desires, think big, and have fun. These individuals are doing big things in our community in their own respective ways. They are LIVING LEGENDS.

We are love personified. It is not often that we are able to receive our flowers while living, and this is what our Black History Month Honors series is about. We are focused on continuing to nourish, support, and elevate the voices and experiences of BLACK transgender people. We asked this year’s honorees a series of questions to get to know them a little better.

Coach Blossom C. Brown, Is an Activist, Astrologer, Tarot Reader, Life-Coach, Actress and Producer. She was the first Black transwoman to graduate from Mississippi University for Women with a Degree in Public health education. She is the central focus of her award winning documentary, “One Life to Blossom.”

I’m originally from the “Birthplace of Blues” Greenwood, Mississippi. Black Trans and Queer folks are my people!

The first time I knew love was as a child when I tapped into and understood my ambition for life and what I wanted to be. I understood that love had to start with myself first before I can give to anything or anybody.

Passion looks like getting behind the wheel and pressing down on the brakes to go after any and everything that you want in life without any limitations of self and self worth! It feels , smells, walks and talks like success, abundance, power, and prosperity and more importantly peace!!!

I just want to say thank you thank you! Truly humbled that someone finally sees me and the healing work that I implement daily with integrity, grace, compassion, and that fire!

Venmo: @Blossomstellalltarot

Morticia Godiva is an actor, dancer, writer, filmmaker, and producer. Some of their work includes, “Feeling Like An Orchid,” a short film that explores expansive queer love, and “Boomerang” an experimental short that‚ is an ode to fem queen joy. Thematically, the truth of self and our right to self determine our own existence is prevalent throughout Godiva’s work.

I am from right outside of Tallahassee, Florida and I come from a long line of storytellers and artists. My people are radical & soft and steadfast & vulnerable. My people are honest and have such a strong weaving into the fabric of who I am.

It was a chilly autumn night in Tallahassee and I danced into myself. I was seeking more of my identity and more specifically naming myself. My dance lasted for hours, by the end I was exhausted and full of LOVE.

To Morticia passion looks like the face of her lovers, and it smells like oud and rose. It tastes like time and it feels like the warmth behind her smile; she is passion driven.

Normal is an illusion, what is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly.

Venmo: @Morticia-Godiva-1
Cashapp: $MortGod

I was a part of the teams founding the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference & GenderPAC. I’m an avid superhero fan and cinephile. A hood song and a good movie can describe anyone & anything. Presently, I’m working on a memoir of major events in my life in and outside of activism.

“I am from a small town called Dumfries, VA. Currently, I live in Decatur, GA – with my wife our two cats and a dog. We’re building a life together. I have three sisters a multitude of adopted queer kids & one son & daughter.”

It was the summer of ’73 and I could feel her feelings. It was like watching someone else’s life. Strange, but reassuring.

An evening with my wife after a romantic meal, watching classic movies with just the right bottle of wine. Dessert would be pecan pie with chocolate accents and vanilla ice cream.

Besides being kinder to one another, it is my hope that we will take advantage of our right to vote and that we will learn and keep our history. Also, let’s try not to embody the prejudices of the world. Being male, female or anywhere in between is more than or physical appearance. We should know and understand this more than our cis brothers & sisters.

Hunta Williams, DeafBlind, hails from New York City. He has attended four different deaf schools and graduated from Lexington School for the Deaf. Hunta received a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary management at The Art Institutes International Minnesota. He furthered his education at the graduate level by achieving a Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. Professionally, he has worked as an Activist, American Sign Language teacher, tutor, sign model, Deaf interpreter, DeafBlind interpreter, and sign language specialist.

I am from Brooklyn, New York City. Transgenders are my people including my own chosen family and friends

“Before my transition, even when I was younger, I felt lost and incapable of feeling love. As I began my transition, I started to find love within myself.

There was a whole in my heart and it was finally filled. Love provided me with warmth, affection and discovery. Love filled that gap in my heart and throughout my body. I finally had a clear sense of self as love had laid its roots within me.”

My passion run deeps. My passion lies interconnected with my soul. They are married together and cannot be separated. Passion is strong vibration that hums through out my body. Passion feels like a big breath of fresh air that feeds and nurture’s the body. Passion is clarity. This allows me to feel, inhale and touch passion through throughout my body.

Stand on your own ground and fight for justice in the transgender community. Thank you.

Venmo: @hunta-williams

CashApp: $HuntaW

Marquise Vilsón Balenciaga is an Afro-Latinx trans actor and activist. Marquise was introduced to TV audiences when he guest-starred in a critically-acclaimed episode of Law & Order: SVU that addressed the issues faced by transgender military service members. Recent TV credits include: Blindspot, The Blacklist, Bull, Netflix’s Tales of the City and Pride on FX. Film credits include: No Ordinary Man, Disclosure, Ben is Back opposite Lucas Hedges The Kitchen, starring Melissa McCarthy & Tiffany Haddish and B-Boy Blues. In 2005 Marquise was featured in the groundbreaking documentary film The Aggressives. A long-standing leader in the underground ballroom scene; Marquise is a member of the House of Balenciaga; recipient of the Octavia St. Laurent Trans Activist Award, the Dorian Corey Hall of Fame Award and has been acknowledged as a Transman ICON.

I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. BIPOC/Queer folx are my people.

If we’re talking about romance, I was 17 the first time I honestly fell in love. Something that I will never forget and while the relationship may not have lasted, I am forever grateful for experiencing that kind of love.

Passion feels like hunger to me. It’s deep down in the pit of my stomach, aching to be fed.

I appreciate this acknowledgment, honestly. Thank you.

CashApp: $MarquiseVilson

Rickey Laurentiis was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, to love the dark. Their debut book, Boy with Thorn, won distinction among many prizes, including the Cave Canem Prize, Whiting Award and the National Endowment for the Arts. They are currently working on two books, both contending the lie and lease of gender.

New Orleans. My people see me, whoever they are.

Significant love runs slowly, so slow it does not run; it strides, so sly it does not stride; it swags, so sad it does it does not swag; it walks, does not walk; crawls, cannot crawl; creeps, so love all a creep snuck on me that I was terrified by the responsibility, awesome, hungry, and cracked over my head: I- oh? You said when? Not so long ago. It was when I faced the mirror and welcomed what I saw.

Passion is an attractive word to me; it seems already to tremble with the energy of a thing wanted. But for meaning, I’m lost to meaning, the more ancient, the more curious. I know that passion runs from the Latin word for suffering—which is what makes compassion or “cum passion,” that is “with” passion, so cousin—and so I suffer to maintain that notion. It explains the insistence of anger anytime one’s passionate experience is interrupted or denied: one has had to lose and hurt in the loss, for this, they may as well hiss at the gall. They may as well hiss at the presumption anyone’s agency is challenged.

I would only add this note of permission. Whether it’s true or false, wrong to someone’s childish god or right to no one, of a people who proclaim their goodness in a nation that argues its liberty, at a time where we supposedly have progressed, it is enough and already valid simply to choose queerness, transness, femme: you don’t have to be born that way or any way to become a way useful to you and your world.

Cash app: $riisriis
Venmo : Rickey-Laurentiis

© Copyright 2019 Marsha P. Johnson Institute. All rights reserved. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute is a fiscally sponsored project of Social Good Fund, a California nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)(3) organization, Tax ID (EIN) 46-1323531.


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