Lauren is a former Deputy Editor of The Root.

Lee Daniels

Fifty-year-old, openly gay producer-director Daniels is the creative force behind the films Monster's Ball, The Woodsman, Shadowboxer and Precious, the Academy Award-winning film based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

Captions excerpted from the book Black, Gifted and Gay by Leyla Farah.

E. Denise Simmons


The former mayor of Cambridge, Mass., Simmons was the first lesbian African-American mayor in U.S. history. Adding to the landmark appointment was the fact that Simmons won the seat unanimously. Her term lasted from 2008 to 2009.

LZ Granderson


Granderson is African American, openly gay, Christian and a force to be reckoned with at's Page 2 and ESPN the Magazine.

Linda Villarosa


Editor, author, journalist and public speaker (and contributor to The Root) Villarosa came out in the early 1990s in Essence magazine. She and her partner live in Brooklyn, N.Y., with their two children.

Paris Barclay


Multiple-Emmy Award-winning director and producer Barclay is currently first vice president of the Directors Guild of America. He is the first African-American officer in the history of the DGA.

Meshell Ndegeocello


With the tantalizing sounds, striking structures and raw lyrics of her music, Ndegeocello's sound and passion caught fire within the entertainment industry when she hit the scene 20 years ago. The musician's ambiguous demeanor and representation of self further inspired discussion not just about music but also about sexuality and social practices that were fairly taboo at the time.

Emil Wilbekin


Named one of Out magazine's 100 Most Influential Gay People in 2002, Wilbekin was editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine for more than 12 years and is now managing editor of

Sheryl Swoopes


Born in Brownsfield, Texas, in 1971, Swoopes was raised by her mother, Louise Swoopes, and three older brothers. She married her high school sweetheart in 1995 and had a son they named Jordan Eric Jackson in 1997. In October 2005, Swoopes made the announcement that she was gay. She would become the most decorated WNBA player ever to make this announcement.



The world's first drag queen supermodel for M.A.C Cosmetics (or any other company) hit the ground running with the international dance classic "Supermodel (You Better Work)" via Tommy Boy Records.

Angela Davis


An out lesbian since 1997, Davis currently resides in New York City and is a distinguished visiting professor in the women's and gender studies department at Syracuse University.

André Leon Talley


American author and fashion icon Talley is perhaps best known for his role as an editor at Vogue magazine.

Wanda Sykes


Throwing herself into the tenacious fight for equality, comedian Sykes joined musician Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour as a performer in 2008 and, that same year, offered her face and likeness to a television ad for the group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network).