Black History Month: Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Pride is celebrating Black History Month with special highlights every Tuesday and Thursday, profiling Black LGBTQ change-makers and history with a special connection to Charlotte and the Carolinas. Our profiles will include history-makers from decades past, as well as those heroes living and making their mark in our own time.
Today, we’re profiling heroes from the realm of arts and entertainment.
Comic Book Artist
“Matt Baker was a damn good-looking black man who made his living drawing damn good-looking white women at a time when talking to one could have gotten him killed,” opens a feature on Baker by Greensboro’s Yes Weekly. “Born in Forsyth County but raised in Pittsburgh, this debonair young man-about-Manhattan who didn’t live long enough to be an old one was the most successful African-American comic book artist of the postwar era.” Baker was renowned for drawing early comic book heroines like the Phantom Lady. Baker was active during the “Golden Age” of comic books in the 1940s and 1950s. His sexuality wasn’t publicly known during this lifetime, but friends and family members have confirmed since that Baker had a longtime relationship with his publisher, Archer St. John.
Pictured: Matt Baker, center, surrounded by several of his drawings on the cover of the book “Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour.”
Jonica “Jojo” Gibbs
Born in Jackson, S.C., JoJo Gibbs was raised by her great-grandparents in Hampstead, N.C. Gibbs is best known recently for her starring roll in BET’s “Twenties.” In the show, Gibbs plays Hattie, a Black, masculine-leaning queer woman. “Having Hattie on TV as a masculine-presenting queer person — female — I think it’s revolutionary,” Gibbs told The Advocate. “And it’s necessary. People need to see people in their uniqueness and their comfortable space, and someone who’s confident in being themselves.” Gibbs has also starred in several other TV series and shorts including “Good Trouble,” “Grit,” and “The Left Right Game.” Gibbs came out at the age of 19 after watching MTV’s “True Life: I’m Coming Out.”
Pictured: Still of Gibbs as Hattie from BET’s “Twenties.”
Jackie “Moms” Mabley
Comedian and Actor
Loretta Mary Aiken — better known as her stage name Jackie “Moms” Mabley — was born in Brevard, N.C. in 1894, one of 16 of her parents’ children. She ran away from home at the age of 14, landing in Cleveland, Ohio, where she took up work in a traveling vaudeville-style minstrel show. She became one of the most popular entertainers among African American circles. At the age of 27, Mabley came out as a lesbian and became one of the first openly LGBTQ comedians. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Mabley routinely performed in gender-neutral and androgynous costumes. She would make multiple appearances on several mainstream TV shows, including “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” In 1969, her cover of “Abraham, Martin and John” hit #35 on Billboard’s Hot 100. At the time, Mabley was 75 — making her the oldest living person to have a Top 40 hit. Mabley passed away in White Plains, N.Y., in 1975.
Pictured: Mabley in costume as her stage character.
TV Personality. Blogger.
Born in Franklin, Va., B. Scott was raised in Hertford County, N.C., and graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in 1999. Scott attended UNC Chapel Hill and came out during their sophomore year there. Three years after graduating from Chapel Hill, Scott movies to Los Angeles, where they worked in real estate and interior design. While in L.A., Scott’s interest in the entertainment industry blossomed. They appeared in ads as a fashion model and, in 2007, launched their now-famous blog LoveBScott.com. The blog has made Scott a go-to celebrity expert on pop culture, celebrity news, fashion, music and more. In 2009, Scott hosted their own internet talk show, “The B. Scott Show,” where they interviewed a variety of high-profile celebrities. Scott has a long list of other TV, radio, and other media appearances.
Pictured: B. Scott, photo by D’Andre Michael.