Gladys Bentley is today’s #BlackHistoryMonth LGBT+ hero, nominated by Mary Benefiel Dunn, composer of Sing with Pride’s micro-opera “I fancied a guy”. Mary writes: Gladys Bentley was a gender-bending performer during the Harlem Renaissance. Donning a top hat and tuxedo, Bentley would sing the blues in Harlem establishments like the Clam House and the Ubangi Club. According to a belated obituary published in 2019, The New York Times said Bentley, who died in 1960 at the age of 52, was “Harlem’s most famous lesbian” in the 1930s and “among the best-known black entertainers in the United States.”

In this fabulous 12 minute documentary “Gladys Bentley: Gender-Bending Performer and Musician” you can find out more about Glady’s life and career and the Harlem Renaissance:

If you would like to nominate your hero or find out more about our BAME LGBT+ Forum, please email Norwich Pride historian Stevie at

You can check out all our Black History Month LGBT+ heroes on our website

To download a copy of the Norfolk Black History Month 2020 brochure go to: