Black HERstory Month: Reverend Darlene Garner

Darlene Garner 1Reverend Darlene Garner is an American clergyperson and LGBT activist.  She is a co-founder of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays (NCBLG).  From 1977 to 1980, Garner worked to help fund NCBLG, then known as the National Coalition of Black Gays (NCBG).  She has described that experience as follows:

At that point in LGBT history, the needs and points of view of African Americans were not reflected in the agendas of other national organizations.  We created the National Coalition of Black Gays and Lesbians, organizing several chapters and transforming those chapters into a national organization.  We knew that we were making history.  What we were doing had the capacity to change the face of history.  Our youth and naiveté helped us do it with a boldness.  If we had been seasoned activists, we might not have taken it on.  We know that if it was not us, there might be no one.  So we took it on.

Before entering the professional ministry, beginning in 1987, Garner worked as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Sexual Minorities.  She has served as the chaplain for an AIDS hospice and as President of the Board of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.  Garner has also served as a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and the West Hollywood Business License Commission.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Garner was raised in the National Baptist Convention, but later attended the Episcopal Church and eventually joined the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in 1976.  Garger was ordained as MCC clergy in 1988, becoming the first African-American elder in the MCC and helped create (and now leads) the denomination’s biannual Conference for People of African Descent (PAD).  She has served as Associate Pastor of MCC in Philadelphia and Pastor of MCC in Baltimore and Northern Virginia from 1991 to 1998, during which time she was used as a source by U.S. News & World Report for stories on LGBT issues.  Garner served MCCDC as Church Treasurer and Lay Delegate and later served MCC’s former Mid-Atlantic District as Assistant District Coordinator.  She now presides over MCC Region 6, which covers Latin America and the Southwestern United States.  Garner also sits on the Diversity & Inclusion Council and on the Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign.

On March 3, 2010, Garner and her partner, Candy Holmes, were one of the first same-sex couples to apply for a marriage license in the District of Columbia.  On March 9, 2010, Garner and Holmes were married along with two other couples at the Human Rights Campaign building.

Check out the snippet below of an emotional Garner and Holmes on the day they applied for their marriage license.


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