lillian foster

Mabel Hampton

Mabel Hampton was a famous African-American lesbian activist. She was a dancer in New York City in the 1920s, where she starred in all-black productions during the Harlem Renaissance. Mabel Hampton was in a romantic relationship with Lillian Foster, for 46 years until Foster’s death. 

On a meager income, she managed to make many financial contributions to many gay and lesbian organizations.  Hampton collected memorabilia, letters, and other records documenting her history, providing a window into the lives of black women and lesbians during the Harlem Renaissance. She left a legacy of invaluable archival materials to the Lesbian Herstory Archives. She also marched in the first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington. Then in 1984, she spoke before thousands of onlookers at New York City Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade, where, she is quoted as saying, “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.”

Lesbian History:

Mabel Hampton
May 2, 1902 – October 26, 1989 

  • was an American lesbian activist, a dancer during the Harlem Renaissance, and a philanthropist for both black and lesbian/gay organizations.
  • met partner Lillian Foster in 1932; were together until Lillian died in 1978.
  • marched in the first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington.
  • In 1984, Hampton spoke before thousands of onlookers at New York City Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade; there, she said, “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.”