May is LGBTQ Seniors Celebration Month! At OUTMemphis, we are honoring LGBTQ Seniors Celebration Month with an acknowledgement of the LGBTQ elders who have pushed to make America a place where LGBTQ people have equal rights and are safe, respected, and celebrated.
Every week we will be highlighting an LGBTQ person 55+ whose work has impacted the lives of LGBTQ people nationwide.
Tracey “Africa” Norman (1952)
Tracey “Africa” Norman is a model, activist, and has become a symbol of power for transgender women everywhere. Norman made her big break as a model in the mid-1970’s as the second African-American woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine. She routinely walked runways in Paris and other fashion cities, as well as being featured regularly in photo-shoots. Norman’s most famous credit, however, is being the face of Clairol hair color Number 512, Dark Auburn. Her image graced this product for six years, making her the first transgender woman to be displayed on such a product.
After her identity as a transgender woman became public knowledge, her career as a model was affected. However, Norman became a celebrity in the drag ball scene, becoming the matriarch of the House of Africa. In 2001, she was inducted into the ballroom hall of fame. In 2015, her story was covered by New York Magazine, which prompted Clairol executives to offer her a new campaign on their products, saying they were “honored to bring back Tracey Norman as a woman who no longer has to hide her truth.”