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Voices of Color: Gladys Bentley, the Most Famous Lesbian of Harlem

"Some of us wear the symbols and badges of our non-conformity" -Gladys Bentley/Bobbie Minton 
     As Pride month is wrapping up, we look at the life and work of Gladys Bentley.  Gladys was "gender-bending" long before the days of Stonewall, or the Pop icons from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that we know so well; like Grace Jones, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Boy George or even Prince. Bentley was carving out a grand canyon of gender non-conformity long before any of those other legends, so to speak, stood within it. She was a force of nature within the Harlem Renaissance, pushing the absolute limits of the times. Her performances framed her legend and carved her face into the Rushmore of queer history forever.

     This week, we honor the Voice of Gladys Bentley, the most famous lesbian of the Harlem Renaissance.

     Bentley's story begins very sadly, in Philadelphia.  She was the firstborn to a mother who so desperately wanted a son that she rejected her daughter. Ben…

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