Curtis Lipscomb has spent years moving throughout the LGBTQ world in different capacities. He’s worked as the Executive Director of LGBT Detroit and was the Founder of Hotter than July, Detroit’s annual black pride celebration. Curtis describes his coming out as gay at 15 years old as being a blessed experience. He didn’t experience any intolerance from his family or bullying and rejection from classmates in his Detroit school, and he says he was encouraged to live an open life, true to himself. Curtis ultimately pursued a career in fashion in New York City, where during the 1980s he first experienced the inequality faced by the LGBTQ community. He watched friends suffer and die from AIDS with little help from their community or government. Much of the work he pursued later in life, he says, was inspired by that period in his life.
“This blessed safe, brave space became a beacon where people could sense excellence as soon as guests arrive through our doors,” Curtis said about LGBT Detroit, the Detroit-based nonprofit organization dedicated to LGBTQ community members. “At LGBT Detroit, our visitors can find support and resources to help them thrive … in a very healthy way,” said Curtis. “Even though we are experiencing a lot of social change, homophobia and racism still exist. They haven’t gone away. LGBT people live in double discrimination. Even if I mask my sexual identity, I’m harassed for being black.”