1.) Alan Turing
Known as the “Father of modern science”, Alan Turing is basically the reason why you’re able to even read this article. He paved the way for the invention of life-changing things like Netflix and online shopping, and he also cracked the Germans’ Enigma Code during World War II, which aided the war effort. And how did we thank him for his genius? We chemically castrated him in 1952 for “homosexual acts”, an injustice that prompted his suicide shortly thereafter.
2.) Everyone in the fashion industry: Karl Lagerfeld, Isaac Mizrahi, Alexander Wang, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gautier, Domenic Dolce & Stefano Gabbana
90% of the stunning fashion you’ve seen on the runway or dreamed of wearing was designed by one of these forward-thinking fashion icons. Without visionaries like them we’d all be wearing light-wash denim and crocs on a daily basis.
3.) Katharine Lee Bates (not to be confused with Kathy Lee Bates)
It’s funny that people say LGBTQ+ people are ruining the fabric of America when the reality is an LGBT+ person actually wrote “America the Beautiful.” God’s grace is shed on ALL of us.
4.) Pretty much every great composer: Franz Schubert, George Frideric Handel, Ethel Smyth, Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky, Benjamin Britten
Some of the greatest composers to ever live were LGBTQ+. Many of them used their struggles with sexual identity as fuel for writing incredibly complex and beautiful symphonies. Tchaikovsky, the genius behind The Nutcracker, attempted to commit suicide once after being forced to marry a woman to hide his sexuality. We owe classy music to the struggles of these innovative musicians.
5.) Laverne Cox
Let’s be real, Laverne Cox plays the Orange is the New Black character we all wish was the protagonist. Laverne Cox made history when she became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category. She has used her platform as an actress to advocate for the transgender movement and continues to stand up for LGBTQ+ people of color.
6.) All of the best writers: Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Walt Whitman, Marcel Proust, Truman Capote, Virginia Woolf, Allen Ginsberg
This list of writers represents only a small portion of the LGBTQ+ population behind some of the most well-beloved literary works. Without LGBTQ+ writers we wouldn’t have classic works like A Streetcar Named Desire, The Importance of Being Earnest, or Dickinson and Woolf’s gorgeous prose. All we’d have is the Bible and Fifty Shades of Grey.
7.) All of these fantastic directors (Gus Van Sant, Lee Daniels, John Waters, Kenny Ortega, Kimberly Peirce, Lisa Cholodenko)
Do you like Good Will Hunting or Empire? Did High School Musical basically change the fabric of your entire existence? Well, without these folks we wouldn’t have ANY of these movies. LGBTQ+ folks have made and continue to make tremendous contributions to film, television, and theater.
Not only did RuPaul give us one of the best anthems of all time with “Cover Girl”, but he paved the way for mainstream acceptance of drag culture. RuPaul’s Drag Race has touched the lives of many gay and straight people alike and reminded us all that “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”
Okay, so it *technically* hasn’t been confirmed that Michelangelo is gay, but most reports seem to think so. Either way the physical beauty of monumental nudes such as “The David” are unparalleled, and given how much the LGBTQ+ community has gone through we have the right to claim him as our own.
10.) Bayard Rustin & Audre Lorde
Bayard Rustin, a close advisor to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was the chief architect of the 1963 March on Washington. Openly gay, in 1986 he spoke on behalf of the New York State’s Gay Rights Bill, with an infamous speech titled “The Gays Are The New N****ers.” Audre Lorde, a lesbian, became a leader in the feminist movement of the 1960’s and advocated for the rights of women of color, whose experiences were being neglected by the mainstream movement.
11.) Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay people elected to public office. His election and later assassination changed the fabric of American politics and sparked conversations of change and equality in this country.
12.) George Takei
From LGBTQ+ rights to Japanese-American relations, George Takei has tirelessly fought for equality and legislative change. He also played a rad character on Star Trek and posts hilarious memes on a daily basis, so he really is an American hero on all accounts.
13.) Martha Johnson & the Stonewall Rioters
In June 1969, a crowd comprised of drag queens, trans people and queer youth joined together in one of the first episodes of the LGBTQ+ community combating oppression from the police. Martha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, is reported to be the first person to fight back. Without Martha and the rioters, we would not have half the liberties we enjoy today. They remind us to continue fighting for what is right.