1902 - 1989

In the 1920s, Mabel Hampton moved “in the life” along with other lesbian, gay and bisexual entertainers of “The Harlem Renaissance.”  In 1932 she met Lillian Foster and the two women began a relationship that endured until Foster’s death in 1978. Through the 60s Hampton was the central figure of a black lesbian community that flourished in the Bronx and, in 1974, she began working with the Lesbian Herstory Archives. In 1984 she addressed New York’s Gay/Lesbian Pride Rally with the words: “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.” Hampton was a devoted member of the Eastern Star, a women’s Masonic organization, and studied with the Rosicrucians, a mystical order dedicated to personal enlightenment and worldly responsibility. An inspiration for younger lesbians – who relished her spirit and joie de vivre – Hampton appears in the films Silent Partners (1984) and Before Stonewall (1985). 


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity African American Black

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Harlem Renaissance (1919-1929)

Field(s) of Contribution


Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Marched in the First National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington (1979)

Featured Speaker at New York City's Pride Parade (1984)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell