10 historical LGBTQ figures

Updated 8/31/2019 3:59 PM

Harvey Milk (1930-1978) -- An American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, serving on the San Francisco board of supervisors. Milk was assassinated almost 11 months into office in San Francisco's City Hall by a former member of the city's board of supervisors. He was responsible for passing several key gay rights ordinances for San Francisco. In 2009, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) -- One of the most notable Stonewall riots veterans and transgender activists of the late 20th century. She fought against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York and was a co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) -- a group committed to providing shelter to transgender youth experiencing homelessness in New York City.


Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) -- An LGBTQ and civil rights activist best known for being a key adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin promoted nonviolent resistance and organized the 1963 March on Washington. In 2013, Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Alan Turing (1912-1954) -- British mathematician, considered the father of modern computer science. He is credited with creating the theoretical framework and design for the earliest modern computer. He also invented the Enigma machine, which deciphered the secret German military code, contributing enormously to the Allied victory in World War II.

Sally Ride (1951-2012) -- An engineer, physicist and astronaut. The first American woman in space, flying aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Later became the director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, and started her own charity, "Sally Ride Science," to inspire children to pursue their interests in science and math.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) -- American anthropologist and psychologist, author of "Coming of Age in Samoa," and curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History. While president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975, she presided over the passage of an AAAS policy statement deploring discrimination against gay and lesbian scientists.

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S. Josephine Baker (1873-1945) -- Physician who organized the first child hygiene department under government control in New York City. Her tenure led to the lowest infant death rate in any American or European city during the 1910s. She was instrumental in identifying "Typhoid Mary."

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) -- An American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, incorporating transcendentalism and realism in his works. Among the most influential American poets, often called the father of free verse. Whitman's own life came under scrutiny for his presumed homosexuality.

Jane Addams (1860-1935) -- An American settlement activist, reformer, social worker, sociologist, public administrator and author. A notable figure in social work and women's suffrage and an advocate for world peace. She co-founded Chicago's Hull House, one of America's most famous settlement houses, and the American Civil Liberties Union. She was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

Rock Hudson (1925-1985) -- An American film and television actor viewed as a "heartthrob" of the Hollywood Golden Age during the 1950s and 1960s. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1956 movie "Giant." His sexual orientation became public knowledge after his death from AIDS-related complications in 1985.

Source: Daily Herald research


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