Ken Jones, Pioneering Black Gay Activist, Dies at 70
Ken Jones has died at age 70.
The pioneering Black gay activist, who worked for decades to desegregate the LGBTQ+ movement, passed from cancer at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, according to Cleve Jones, who announced his friend’s death Wednesday on Facebook.
“Ken Jones was a hero,” Cleve Jones stated. “He survived many struggles. He deeply loved his family and his community, and dedicated his entire life to the movement for peace and justice. He was very grateful to all of you who reached out to him with messages of encouragement and love during his illness.
“Today Ken lost his fight against cancer. A memorial will be arranged when it is safe once more for us to gather. Rest in Power, Ken. I love you.”
Ken Jones was diagnosed with bladder cancer last September, according to The Bay Area Reporter. In one of his final Facebook posts, on December 22, he wrote, “Today I decided that it is not how many suns and moons you witness as much as what you are able to undertake (with your whole heart) and fight for! Soooo, if I can stay in the (existential) here and now (where all is well) and not get caught up in my circumstances which are only temporary…I’ve got many things to do as the clock ticks (loudly).”
Born in New Jersey, Jones served three tours in Vietnam before being stationed in San Francisco’s Treasure Island in 1972. In the Golden City, he began a lifelong commitment to LGBTQ+ and HIV activism, volunteering with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and becoming the first African-American chair of San Francisco Pride, where he worked to elevate the voices of marginalized people. Additionally, he was an ordained deacon.
Jones’s story was featured in When We Rise, Dustin Lance Black’s 2017 ABC miniseries about the LGBTQ+ movement. He was played in his younger years by Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country) and as an older adult by Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Lovecraft Country).
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Daniel Reynolds