Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Marlon Riggs

A documentary filmmaker and media activist, Marlon Riggs was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He graduated from Harvard with honors, and received a master’s in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also taught. His films exposed the history of racial stereotyping, and sometimes displayed a personal touch by using his own life experience. His first film, Ethnic Notions (1987), documented stereotyping in 19th and 20th-century popular culture, and received a National Emmy Award. Color Adjustment (1991) continued on this theme with a look at African Americans in television from the 1940s to 1980s. Tongues Untied (1989) was a very personal exploration of the lives of African American gay men. Because it received National Endowment of the Arts funding, it became the target of right-wing Christian conservatives and Republican politicians like Jesse Helms and Pat Buchanan. Riggs’ last film, Black Is . . .Black Ain’t (1995), served as a memorial of his life, including his battle against AIDS. Riggs, who died in 1994, was survived by his partner of 15 years, Jack Vincent.