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ABilly S. Jones-Hennin, Founder of the United States First Black LGBTQ+ Rights Organization, Dies at 81

Updated: Feb 3

News & Opinion

LGBTQ rights activist ABilly S. Jones-Hennin, died on Jan. 19 at his home in Chetumal, Mexico. He was 81 years old.

According to Jones-Hennin's husband, Christopher Hennin the former’s death was caused by complications associated with spinal stenosis and Parkinson's disease.

Throughout his life, Jones-Hennin dedicated his career to advocating and preserving the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

Jones-Hennin, who identified as bisexual is credited with advancing the presence of the bisexual community during the LGBTQ rights movement.

In April 1978, Jones-Hennin founded the D.C. Coalition of Black Gays. Jones-Hennin later joined with fellow activists Darlene Garner and Delores P. Berry to form the National Coalition of Black Gays (NCBG), the first national advocacy group for Black LGBTQ+ people in the U.S.

In October 1979, Jones-Hennin coordinated the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights with an estimated 75,000 people, taking part as the march’s logistics coordinator.

In addition to coordinating the march, he also spearheaded the first National Conference of Third World Lesbians and Gays the same weekend at the Harambee House hotel. The event was billed as the first national gathering of LGBTQ+ people of color.

That same year Jones-Hennin took to the White House where he and a dozen allies met with members of the Carter administration to discuss discrimination, housing, and health care.

Born as Lannie Bess, on March 21, 1942, in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, on March 21, 1942. Jones-Hennin would later be adopted at age 3, and raised in Richmond, Virginia by parents who would eventually rename him Allen Billy Scott Jones.

During his childhood Jones-Hennin got his first taste of advocacy work while attending civil rights protests with his family, later attending the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights.

In a retrospective interview with the New York Times, Jones Hennin discussed his activism career and the importance of advocating for BIPOC members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I have never separated my blackness from my gayness,” said ABilly S. Jones-Hennin.


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