Carl Bean was an American singer, songwriter, and minister who made significant contributions to the history of LGBTQ+ and gospel music. He was a trailblazer who used his music as a platform for activism, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of musicians and activists.
Early Life and Career
Carl Bean was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1944. He began singing in church at a young age and later moved to New York City to pursue a career in music.
In 1971, Bean recorded his first single, “I Was Born This Way,” which was a disco and gay anthem. The song became popular in LGBTQ+ communities and is considered one of the first recordings to openly address gay identity.
Bean continued to release music over the years, including albums such as “Born to Sing” and “All We Need Is Love.” He also toured with various groups and artists, including the Temptations and Gladys Knight.
Activism and Ministry Work
In addition to his music, Carl Bean was an activist and a minister. He founded the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, which was one of the first Black churches explicitly welcoming to LGBTQ+ people. Bean’s work as a minister and activist focused on empowering marginalized communities and promoting social justice and equality.
Bean also worked with various organizations to raise awareness and support for HIV/AIDS during the height of the epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s.
Legacy and Influence
Carl Bean’s contributions to the worlds of gospel and LGBTQ+ music inspired many musicians and activists over the years. He was a trailblazer who used his music to spread a message of acceptance and empowerment.
Bean’s work continues to be celebrated today. In 2019, a documentary, “I Was Born This Way: A Carl Bean Story,” was released about his life and career. The film explores Bean’s impact on LGBTQ+ music and culture and highlights his achievements as an activist and minister.
In conclusion, Carl Bean was a musician, activist, and minister who made significant contributions to the worlds of gospel and LGBTQ+ music. His work was pioneering and inspiring, and his legacy continues to resonate with musicians and activists today. He used his platform to spread a message of acceptance and empowerment, and his impact on music and culture will be felt for years to come.