HISTORICAL LGBTQ FIGURES YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
From those you know to those you don’t, these are the queer people whose stories and struggles have shaped the LGBTQ culture and the community as we know it today.
Stormé DeLarverie (1920-2014)
Dubbed the ‘Rosa Parks of the gay community’, Stormé DeLarverie is widely regarded as the woman who started the fight back against the police during the Stonewall raid of 1969, an event that helped define a change in LGBT+ rights activism.
She died in 2014 at the age of 93.
Gore Vidal (1925-2012)
The essays American writer Gore Vidal penned were in favour of sexual freedom and equality, and against prejudice.
His ‘The City and the Pillar’ published in 1948, was one of the first modern gay-themed novels.
He was a radical and a maverick, although he was no Pride marcher. He died at the age of 86 in 2012 and was buried next to his long-time companion Howard Austen.
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)
Alexander the Great was king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon: a bisexual military genius who through the years had many partners and mistresses.
His most controversial relationship was with a young Persian eunuch named Bagoas, who Alexander kissed publicly at a festival of athletics and arts.
He died at the age of 32 in 323 BC.
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
In his teen years, American novelist James Baldwin began to feel smothered for being both African-American and gay in a racist and homophobic America.
Baldwin escaped to France where he wrote essays critiquing race, sexuality and class structures.
He brought to light the challenges and complexities black and LGBT+ people had to face at the time.
He died in 1987 at the age of 63.
David Hockney (1937-)
Born in Bradford, artist David Hockney’s career flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, when he flitted between London and California, where he enjoyed an openly gay lifestyle with friends like Andy Warhol and Christopher Isherwood.
Much of his work, including the famous Pool Paintings, featured explicitly gay imagery and themes.
In 1963, he painted two men together in the painting ‘Domestic Scene, Los Angeles’, one showering while the other washes his back.
He is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.
Alan Turing (1912-1954)
Mathematician Alan Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial moments and in so doing helped win World War Two.
In 1952, Turing was convicted for having a relationship with 19-year-old Arnold Murray. At the time it was illegal to engage in gay sex, and Turing underwent chemical castration.
He took his own life at the age of 41 after using cyanide to poison an apple.
Turing was eventually pardoned in 2013, which led to new legislation pardoning all gay men under historical gross indecency laws.
He was named ‘The Greatest Person of the 20th Century’ following a public vote on the BBC last year.