The Untold Story Of Ruth Ellis's Vision for Inclusive Black Liberation

group of black women standing together
Adé Hennis
March 14, 2024

With both non-Black gay clubs and Black straight clubs practicing  discrimination, there were very few places for Black LGBTQ+ people to meet. That’s when Ruth Ellis knew it was time to do her part.

As a Black lesbian, and as one of the few Black female entrepreneurs in Detroit, Ellis knew how it felt to be excluded. So in the 1940s, she turned her house into a safe space for LGBTQ+ people.

From the 1940s to 60s, her house was an informal night club for Black LGTBQ+ people. Across the Midwest, it became famous as the “Gay Spot."

In addition to hosting the Gay Spot, Ellis offered assistance to Black lesbians who were researching their history. She also proposed Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs that would match younger LGBTQ+ people with older LGBTQ+ people with similar interests.

Ruth Ellis used her experiences as a Black lesbian to create a safe space for other LGBTQ+ people. We should welcome, embrace and protect everyone in our communities because Black liberation needs all of us.

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