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born April 18

Me and Brenda go way back. I look up to her as the real mother of SHEBA. She was a facilitator early on, and kept it going and looked out for us a long time. SHEBA started at House of Infiniti. They threw the best parties! Brenda was usually the only woman there that wasn’t trans. She helped move SHEBA to Diverse & Resilient to keep it going, and we still going strong. 

Brenda’s known she’s bisexual since 12. She came out in her early 20s and is married to Sandra Jones, who she’s been with almost 40 years. Her wife is one of her biggest influences and so is Angela Davis, who she’s been friends with a long time. Brenda moved to Milwaukee when she was 11. That night her and her family had to sleep in cars outside the city limits because of the housing marches curfew. 

Brenda, she’s passionate about social justice and the environment. She used to be a public health advocate for BIPOC men who have sex with men to keep them safe from HIV. This is close to her since her brother died from AIDS. She was at Diverse & Resilient forever. Now Brenda is Co-Executive Director of Milwaukee Water Commons and on the leadership team with Midwest Environmental Justice Network.

Brenda Coley

Illustration by Intan Zulkifli

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