Maria-Elena Grant, born in the UK, moved with her family to the Bronx, New York in the late 1970s. Early in her career during the 1980s, Maria-Elena co-founded Blues, a social networking group for lesbians, the first of its kind in the borough. Moving to Brooklyn in 1993 with her partner, filmmaker Cyrille Phipps, Maria-Elena joined the POC Steering Committee, a group of LGBT organizations of color working to achieve better visibility for themselves within the community. In addition, Maria-Elena was a founding mother of The Audre Lorde Project and an early member of The Unity Fellowship Church, Brooklyn. Maria-Elena has been recognized for her service to the LGBT community by receiving numerous awards including a citation from City Council Member C. Virginia Fields and a service excellence award in 2008 from GALA Choruses. In addition, Big Apple Performing Arts has acknowledged her more than 25 years of activism.
Maria-Elena’s most satisfying achievement continues to be her work in Lavender Light Gospel Choir, of which she has been a member for 32 years and served as chorus manager for the last 30. During her tenure, Lavender Light has reached national and international acclaim, singing for notables such as President Bill Clinton during his last term in office and developing programs like The Gospel of HIV Prevention, which uses a musical setting to deliver information about HIV/AIDS and safe-sex practices.
Maria-Elena is the president of the GALA Board of Directors and was recently featured in Go Magazine’s “100 Women We Love 2023.”