We know some seize the opportunity for greatness. Others have greatness thrust upon them. Regardless of what starts an individual on such a path, the end result is always the same. Something about our world fundamentally changes for the better. When you look to the history of LGBT icons and LGBT historical figures, you will not find yourself lacking in profiles in heroism.
Whether you’re talking about people who stood at the forefront of gay rights in the early 20th century, or individuals who used art or social upheaval to give a voice to those who felt voiceless, you can find stirring examples of LGBT people who changed our world forever.
In the 21st century, LGBT people continue to fight for basic rights around the world. These battles can be found in the United States, in Canada, in China, and all throughout the world. As we think about the activists, artists, politicians, and other individuals working to make life better for the global LGBT community, we should also think about the people who fought to bring things to where they stand in the present:
1. Leonardo da Vinci
Regardless of what detractors may claim, it is almost a certainty that one of the greatest artists, inventors, and thinkers in all of human history was not only gay, but very actively so. It is also strongly believed by many that da Vinci was fascinated by androgyny, as well.
2. Alan Turing
Thankfully, the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game has shed some essential light on Alan Turning, whose mathematical genius played a crucial part in the Allied Powers overcoming the Axis Powers in World War 2. Tragically, his sexuality would eventually subject him to extraordinarily cruel abuse by his own government.
3. Barbara Gittings
Before Stonewall, which many credit as the foundation of modern LGBT rights, Barbara Gittings work as an activist played a vital role in the medical community changing their views of homosexuality. By 1973, the American Psychiatric Association stopped considering homosexuality to be a disorder.
4. Harvey Milk
Milk came along at a crucial period in American LGBT rights history. His work as a city supervisor of San Francisco inspired millions. He accomplished a great deal while alive, before being tragically cut down by an assassin’s bullet.
5. Sylvia Rivera
The catalyst whose actions led to the history-making Stonewall riots, Sylvia Rivera continues to be remembered as an iconic activist and champion of transgender rights and so much more.