Munroe Bergdorf

At the convergence of Pride Month and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, WWD speaks to creatives in the Black LGBTQ community about creative expression as activism and hopes for the future.

Munroe Bergdorf became L’Oréal’s first transgender model when she was cast in a campaign in the U.K. in 2017, but she was dropped by the company after speaking out against racism and white supremacy on social media. Following the killing of George Floyd by police in May, L’Oréal posted a message of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, which Bergdorf called out for hypocrisy. The beauty company has since created a U.K. Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, to which they appointed Bergdorf.

What does being a Black LGBTQ activist mean to you?
“As a Black, queer, transgender woman in the media, I want to provide the representation and visibility that I didn’t have growing up. Through my activism I want to encourage all young people to stand up for themselves, to be politically engaged and to educate themselves on issues beyond their own lived experiences.”

What inspired you to become an artist?
“I see fashion and beauty as great mediums to have often difficult discussions about identity and society. I’ve always been a creative person, so my journey into activism has been more of a natural progression rather than a conscious choice. I don’t really see myself as an artist, I see myself as a voice for the underrepresented and, hopefully, a symbol of resilience.”

What do you hope the future will hold for the Black LGBTQ community?
“Black transgender women are navigating four pandemics right now: COVID-19, racism, transphobia and misogyny. I hope that the #blacklivesmatter movement continues to extend to the Black trans community. I want society to recognize our humanity, to offer us opportunity, to keep us safe and encourage us to live authentically. Too many Black trans women are being murdered and often without justice. We need this violent narrative to end.”