Archbishop Carl Bean, trailblazing singer of LGBTQ+ anthem I Was Born This Way, has died at the age of 77.
Bean was confirmed to have “made the transition into eternal life” in a statement from the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, a church he founded for Black LGBTQ+ worshippers.
“Our hearts go out to all as we mourn the loss of this trailblazing leader and legend in the worlds of activism, advocacy, AIDS, community outreach, faith, liberation theology, and so much more,” part of the statement read.
“Archbishop Bean worked tirelessly for the liberation of the underserved and for LGBTQ people of faith and in doing so, helped many around the world find their way back to spirituality and religion.”
The US gospel artist and minister was an LGBTQ+ icon, whose Pride anthem went on to inspire Born This Way by Lady Gaga.
“Thank you for decades of relentless love, bravery, and a reason to sing,” the Joanne singer wrote on Instagram to mark Born This Way’s 10th anniversary. “We deserve the right to inspire tolerance, acceptance, and freedom for all.”
Bean worked with major artists such as Dionne Warwick, Sammy Davis Jr, Burt Bacharach and Miles Davis throughout his career.
I Was Born This Way quickly became a global hit, with Bean becoming ordained as a minister and starting his work with the Unity Fellowship Church Movement.
It has since expanded to at least 17 affiliate churches in the US and Caribbean, with the mission to “proclaim the ‘sacredness of all life’ thus focusing on empowering those who have been oppressed and made to feel shame”.
When he was just 12-years-old, he attempted suicide after being turned away from his parents when he came out.
This in part motivated the work he went on to do in his later life, as he also founded the Minority AIDS Project in 1985 to give low-income Black and Latinx residents in Los Angeles access to HIV and AIDS treatment.