LGBT History Month 2015: Stacyann Chinn, Spoken word Poet & Performance Artist

October 4, 2012: Stacyann Chinn Photo (c) Associated Press

Staceyann Chin is a spoken-word poet and performance artist dedicated to LGBT rights. She has been out since 1998, soon after co-writing and performing in the Tony-nominated Russell Simmons “Def Poetry Jam” on Broadway. She has also appeared in one-woman Off-Broadway shows and at the famed Nuyorican Poets Café. Her work has been featured in more than 21 publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Born in Jamaica, Chin is of Chinese- and African-Jamaican descent, a subject she has written about often. She appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” to discuss what it was like growing up gay in Jamaica.

The Brooklyn resident announced in 2011 that she was pregnant with her first child, the result of in vitro fertilization. She eventually wrote about her experiences as a single pregnant lesbian for The Huffington Post. She also contributes to “She Said What?”—an online show on AfterEllen—and to Centric TV’s “My Two Cents.”

Chin has earned much recognition for her poetry and performance, which she calls “activist driven.” She won the 1998 Lambda Poetry Slam and the 1999 Chicago People of Color Poetry Slam.

In 2009 she published her autobiographical novel, “The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir,” in which she recounts being raised by a single mother and coming out in a country where she had few, if any, role models. “I am mostly proud of the path I have taken,” she writes. “I am learning one never puts a turbulent childhood completely to rest.”

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.

In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.