1. Jane Addams (1860–1935) the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women‘s suffrage and world peace. One of the most famous women in America in the early 20th century, Addams was also a charter member of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Visitors to Chicago’s Hull House Museum can explore more about Addams’ personal life, legacy, and contributions to civic engagement and modern democracy.
2. James Baldwin (1924–1987), American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, civil rights activist whose work deals with racial and sexual issues in the mid-20th century in the United States. His novels mine complex social and psychological pressures related to being black and homosexual well before the social, cultural or political equality of these groups was improved. His groundbreaking 1956 novel, Giovanni’s Room, boldly examined an interracial gay love affair between two men living in Paris, and the social isolation facing those with such desires. As the Civil Rights movement unfolded in the U.S., Baldwin was a prominent, progressive voice who did not shy away from his own sexual identity. When an interviewer asked him on television to describe the challenges he faced as “a black, impoverished homosexual,” he answered, “I thought I’d hit the jackpot.”
3. George Choy (1960–1993) member of Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, ACT UP, and an ardent activist for AIDS awareness who persuaded the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution for Project 10, the counseling program for LGBT teens in public high schools.
4. Federico Garcia Lorca (1898–1936), Spanish poet, playwright, political activist whose poetry and plays combine elements of Andalusian folklore with sophisticated and often surrealistic poetic techniques and cut across all social and educational barriers. As an openly gay man, he used his fame to fight Fascism in Spain and was ultimately murdered by soldiers in Francisco Franco’s army.
5. Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997), American poet who vigorously opposed militarism, materialism, and sexual repression. in the late 1950’s here in San Francisco, he was a leading figure of the Beat Generation whose epic poem, “Howl”, excoriated the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore published the poem after Ginsberg performed the epic work at a San Francisco art gallery in 1955, In 1957, the book’s publisher was arrested for obscenity. The resulting trial and court appearance raised Ginsberg’s profile. He and his lover, Peter Orlovsky, continued to influence and inspire rock musicians and counterculture figures such as Ken Kesey, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Abbie Hoffman, as they participating in such seminal events of the 1960s. This includes Kesey’s Acid Test Festivals, the San Francisco’s 1967 Be-In, anti-war protests at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, and numerous music tours with folk giant Bob Dylan in the 1960s and ’70s.
6. Keith Haring (1958–1990), American artist, political activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. By expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, and explicitly publicizing the issue of AIDS, his imagery has become a widely recognized visual language of the 20th century.
7. Harry Hay (1912–2002), English born writer, cultural icon, early leader in the Sexual Revolution because of his role in the American LGBTQ rights movement by writing The Call and defining LGBTQ as a cultural identity. founded the Mattachine Society in 1950, the first enduring LGBTQ rights organization on the United States.
8. Sylvester James (1947–1988) child gospel star, American disco star, soul singer, drag artist, member of the landmark performance artists, The Cockettes, his anthem record, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. San Francisco treasure.
9. Christine Jorgensen (1926–1989) American, first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery–in this case male to female. Public pioneer for transgendered people. Born in the Bronx to supportive Danish-American parents, the former army solider traveled to Copenhagen in 1951 for sex reassignment surgery. When the European press began reporting on Jorgensen, she demonstrated considerable courage and media savvy by negotiating exclusive rights to her life story that was published in Hearst’s American Weekly news magazine. Jorgensen returned to the U.S. in 1953 as a celebrity. Widely covered by the media, she used her resulting celebrity to advocate for transgendered people.
10. Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), Mexican artist whose work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. In her lifetime, Kahlo’s painting were exhibited in Mexico, New York, and Paris when the Louvre Museum bought one her self-portraits. Her work was the first Mexican artist to be collected by that famed institution. Though she traveled in international circles, gaining admiration by such artist giants as Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, recognition of Kahlo’s genius was temporarily overshadowed by the greater fame of her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. They were a volatile couple and had numerous affairs. Kahlo wrote openly about her romances with African American entertainer Josephine Baker, American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, and other men and women.
11. Del Martin (1921–2008), American feminist and gay rights activist who along with her lifelong partner, Phyllis Lyon, founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) in San Francisco in 1955. DOB was the first social and political organization for lesbians in the United States. As co-editor of the group’s monthly newsletter, The Ladder, Martin helped to usher in a new era of visibility and political engagement for lesbians in the post-war era. Along with Lyon, Martin coauthored 1972’s groundbreaking book, Lesbian/Woman and 1976’s Battered Wives, bringing national attention to the issues each book addressed. Martin’s impact is profoundly felt on the streets of San Francisco where she and Lyon cofounded numerous health clinics, shelters for battered women, and other nonprofits. Her impact resounds on a national level, too, serving on presidential commissions and campaigning to have the American Psychiatric Association change its definition of homosexuality as a mental illness. Martin and Lyon were together fifty-four years and married in a ceremony officiated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on June 16th, 2008. In recognition of the couple’s tremendous contributions, city officials made certain Marin and Lyon would be the first wedded couple on that historic day when same-sex marriage became legally recognized by the state of California.
12. Yukio Mishima (nee Kimitake Hiraoka, 1925–1970), Japanese playwright, poet, actor, film director, internationally famous and considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century, his avant-garde work displayed a blending of modern and traditional aesthetics that broke cultural boundaries, with a focus on sexuality, death, and political change.
13. Bayard Rustin (1912–1987), American civil rights activist largely behind the scenes in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and earlier. He is credited as the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He counseled Martin Luther King, Jr. on the techniques of nonviolent resistance. He became an advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes in the latter part of his career. Homosexuality was criminalized at the time but that did not stop him from his activism.
14. Randy Shilts (1951–1994) a pioneering gay American journalist and author. who worked as a freelance reporter for both The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle as“ the first openly gay reporter with a gay “beat“ in the American mainstream press. He wrote three best-selling, widely acclaimed books: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic and Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf.
15. Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) American writer and thinker who spent most of her life in France, well known for her writing, her premier art collection of twentieth century painters like Matisse, Cezanne, and Picasso, Gauguin, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec, and the many famous people, artists and writers both, like Hemingway and Wilder, who visited her Paris salon. Her life-long partner, Alice B. Toklas, came to be famous in her own right. Stein’s affirming essay, Miss Furr and Miss Skeene, is one of the first homosexual revelation stories to be published. It contains the word “gay”: over one hundred times, perhaps the first published use of the word “gay” in reference to same-sex relationships.
16. Alan Turing (1912–1954), British scientist, cryptanalyst, logician, mathematician. Highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. He devised a number of techniques for interpreting German ciphers in World War II, and broke the Enigma machine’s code, saving tens of thousands of lives in the process. Turing’s homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952–homosexual acts were illegal in the United Kingdom at the time. He was chemically castrated as an alternative to prison. He is said to have committed suicide by eating cyanide in an apple. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was mistreated after the war, a left-handed “thank you” for all the good work he had done for his country. The partially bitten apple on Steve Jobs’ computers is a silent tribute to his advances in computer science.
17. Tom Waddell (1937–1987) was the gay American sportsman who founded the international sporting event called the Gay Games. As a physician, he had done research on viruses. His battle against HIV/AIDS is one of the subjects of the award-winning documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.
18. Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), Irish playwright, poet, novelist, essayist who became one of London‘s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, his many plays and wonderful short stories and the tragedy of his imprisonment. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty. At the height of his fame, after a series of trials, Wilde was convicted of gross indecency with other men and was imprisoned for two years and held to hard labour.
19. Tennessee Williams (1911–1983), American dramatist, poet, and novelist who was awarded two Pulitzer prizes for drama and four Drama Critics Circle awards. Brilliant and prolific, he breathed life and passion into such memorable characters as Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire. Like them, he was troubled and self-destructive, abusing alcohol and drugs. Derided by critics and blacklisted by Roman Catholic Cardinal Spellman, who condemned one of his scripts as “revolting, deplorable, morally repellent, offensive to Christian standards of decency”, he remains one of the greatest playwrights in American history. After Shakespeare, he has been translated into more foreign languages than any other English language playwright.
20. Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), English novelist, essayist, publisher regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. She experimented with stream-of-consciousness in her works and the underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters. She is arguably the major lyrical novelist in the English language. Her novels are highly experimental, showing intense lyricism and stylistic virtuosity. Her popular 1928 novel, Orlando, traces the adventures of an aristocratic poet who changes sex and gender over 300 years. The tale was inspired as a love letter to Woolf’s female lover, Vita Sackville-West. Woolf, along with other writers like Lytton Strachey, Rupert Brooke, Duncan Grant, and Saxon Sydney-Turner formed the nucleus of the intellectual circle of writers and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group.
21. José Sarria (1922-2013) Columbian born political activist, the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States and founder of the Imperial Court system.
22. Rikki Streicher (1926-1994) Lesbian American political activist and founder of the Gay Games Federation.
23. Glenn Burke (1952-1995) First openly gay major league baseball player who was discriminated against by Major League Baseball and whose raised hand, after a home run, led to the invention of the high five.
24. We’wha (1849-1896) Zuni Native American Two-Spirit/Mixed Gender Tribal Leader who was male-bodied but performed primarily “feminine” tasks as well as serving as a mediator.
25. Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000) Japanese-American civil rights activist, founder of the Critical Path Project, one of the earliest and most comprehensive sources of HIV treatment information.
26. Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) Noted American politician and civil rights leader widely considered to be the first open lesbian elected to Congress, representing Texas in the House of Representatives.
27. Fereydoun Farrokhzad (1938-1992) Gay Iranian singer, actor, poet, TV and radio host, writer, and iconic opposition political figure who advocated for an open society that accepted all people.
28. Sally Ride (1951-2012) Lesbian, physicist and first American female astronaut in space.
Information freely excerpted from Wikipedia, glbtq.com,
and other websites primary to the individuals listed.