In Honor of #LGBTQHistoryMonth , Here’s a Thread of Incredible Activists You Probably Didn’t Learn About in High School 🧵
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) was an openly gay advisor and the right-hand man to Martin Luther King Jr. He was a union organizer who fought for both racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights, even planning the 1963 March on Washington where the famous “I Have a Dream” speech took place.
Edith Windsor, a widow to her partner Thea of 40 years, took gay marriage to the supreme court in 2013 to try and have their partnership retroactively recognized as a marriage. She won the case, which declared DOMA unconstitutional, thus paving the path for gay marriage in 2016.
Larry Kramer (1935-2020) was the gay activist who founded ACT UP, an organization with a mission to make the government recognize and fund research on the AIDS epidemic. He also created the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the world’s largest non-profit that helped assist AIDS patients.
Stormé DeLarverie (1920-2014) was a Black butch lesbian who threw the first punch (at a cop) during the Stonewall Riots of ‘69, sparking the later creation of the LGBTQ+ community as a unified activist movement. He was known as the “guardian of lesbians in [Greenwich] Village."
Gilbert Baker (1951-2017) was an artist and gay rights activist, best known for designing the famous rainbow pride flag. The original, shown below, had two additional stripes that we don’t see much of today. His legacy is now honored in the Stonewall National Monument in NYC.
Audre Lorde (1834-1992) described herself as a "black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet." She was a powerful activist who wrote about class, race, sexuality, and gender. Her writings on intersectional identity and theory are studied and revered to this day as foundational.
Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) was a key figure during Stonewall and she later formed the first United States trans rights activism group, S.T.A.R. According to Marsha, her middle initial stood for “Pay It No Mind” in regards to her gender. The impact of her legacy is undeniable.
Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) was a trans and gay liberation activist best known for co-founding S.T.A.R. with Marsha P. Johnson and fighting for legal policy that protected people’s rights on the basis of sex. She insisted upon trans recognition within the greater community itself.
Brenda Howard (1946-2005), known as the “mother of pride,” was a bisexual activist and chair of the Gay Liberation Front. One year after Stonewall, she planned the first annual “Gay Pride Week,” which is now our Pride Month. She later started the New York Area Bisexual Network.
Sara Beth Brooks is an asexual activist who’s best known for being the founder of Asexual Awareness Week (Aka “Ace Week”) in 2010, which now occurs annually during the last week of October. It was created to celebrate and asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and grey-asexual pride.
Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, or Kumu Hina, is a transgender Hawaiian woman who was one of the first trans rights advocates in the United States. She was a major advocate for the 2016 legalization of gay marriage and currently runs Wong-Kalu, an organization that assists trans women.
cw nazis, death, bombs

Willem Arondeus (1894-1943) was an openly gay artist fighting the Nazis in the Netherlands. He blew up an office being used to identify Dutch Jews, saving countless lives. His final words before execution were “let it be known homosexuals are not cowards.”
Harvey Milk (1930-1978) was a Jewish politician and the first openly gay elected official in California’s history. As the most prominent politician for LGBTQ+ rights at the time, he passed a bill banning discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
Del Martin (1921-2008) and Phyllis Lyon (1924-2020) met and fell in love in the 1950s. They founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the very first lesbian civil rights organization in the United States, and in 2004, they became the first lesbian couple married in San Francisco history.
Leslie Feinberg (1949-2014) was a Jewish butch lesbian, union organizer, transgender activist, and author. Hir work was some of the first to highlight the intersection of lesbianism and gender non-conformity as a trans experience. Ze was also an AIDS and racial equality activist.
Harlan Pruden is a First Nations Cree activist who’s dedicated himself to two-spirit education and advocacy. He co-founded NESS (NorthEast Two-Spirit Society) and served as chair on the National Native HIV/AIDS Coalition. He also compiles history on Indigenous gender experiences.
Dr. John E. Fryer (1937-2003) was a gay psychiatrist known for his 1973 speech in front of the American Psychiatric Association. He wore a mask and called himself “Dr. Henry Anonymous,” successfully convincing them to remove Homosexuality from their manual of mental illnesses.
Ernestine Eckstein (1941-1992) was often the only Black women at early LGBTQ+ rights protests. She was a prominent leader of the New York City chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian political organization, and was also an activist in the Black feminist movement of the 1970s.
Bobbie Lea Bennett (1947-2019) was a disability and trans rights activist and the first woman to receive gender affirming surgery. Her road trip across the country to insist that Medicare keep their promise to cover the cost set a precedent for future policy on trans healthcare.
cw nazis

Avram Finkelstein is a gay AIDS activist who helped create ACT UP and its campaign art. His Jewish background inspired him to flip the pink triangle, a marker Nazis assigned to gay men during the Holocaust, to symbolize how the government’s neglect was another genocide.
Phill Wilson is a Black gay rights activist. He and his partner were both diagnosed with HIV in the early 80s and when his partner died, he founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999 after noticing that most of the organizations were focused primarily on white gay populations.
CeCe McDonald is a Black bisexual trans woman who has become a prominent activist for LGBTQ+ rights. After accepting a plea of 41 months in prison for self-defense in the midst of a transphobic attack, her name (and trans liberation as a whole) have gained massive recognition.
Aaron Fricke is a gay rights activist best known for winning the 1980 case which allowed him to bring his boyfriend to Prom as his date. The ruling also required the high school to provide protection to him and his partner while at the dance, a very early win for LGBTQ+ rights.
Ruth Ellis (1899-2000) was a Black woman who is widely considered the oldest surviving out lesbian. The home she shared with her partner was known as a “gay spot” and she was an activist for gay liberation and racial equality, staying involved in both causes up until she was 101.
Barbara Gittings (1932-2007) was an activist who brought visibility to our community in everything she did, which included organizing the NY Daughters of Bilitis, protesting the ban on employment, documenting lesbian history, and promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance on a national level.
Riki Anne Wilchins is an LGBTQ+ activist credited with coining the first non-binary terminology in United States history, “genderqueer,” in 1995. They also founded GenderPAC, a trans advocacy group focused on employment, inclusive schooling, and trans protection from violence.
Yasmin Benoit is a Black asexuality and aromanticism activist who uses her platform as a model and writer to educate. She organized the first asexual-themed bar at London Pride in 2019 and serves on the board of directors for AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network.)
Richard Isay (1934-2012) was an openly gay psychiatrist whose worked popularized the idea that people are simply born gay. He spoke out against conversion therapy and advocated for gay marriage as early as 1989. He forever changed the way the medical field viewed human sexuality.
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an openly gay artist who used his work to advocate for LGBTQ+ acceptance and civil rights, safe sex, and the government’s recognition of the AIDS epidemic. His graffiti-style art is absolutely iconic and can be found in museums all over the world.
Virginia Apuzzo is a lesbian activist who was the executive director of the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force in NYC. Seeing the start of the AIDS epidemic, she organized the lobbying of the U.S. government and testified in Congress to urge funding and acknowledgment of AIDS.
Peter Staley is an AIDS activist who worked in advocacy and education with ACT UP. He became an icon for putting a giant inflatable condom over the home of homophobic Republican senator Jesse Helms, who was complicit in the government’s lack of funding into AIDS research.
Mara Keisling is a transgender rights activist best known for creating the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2003. She co-led United ENDA, the lobbying group responsible for helping to legalize changing gender markers on birth certificates without any proof of surgery.
Michael L. Callen (1955-1993) was one of the earliest AIDS activists and worked to reduce stigma. In 1983, he helped invent the concept of “safe sex,” forever changing sex education in the United States. The same pamphlet, “How To Have Sex in a Pandemic,” saved millions of lives.
Max Beck (1966-2008) was an Intersex advocate. He participated in the first known public demonstration against medical intervention on intersex children, and later starred in a documentary about challenging the sex binary, which was nominated for a 2006 LGBTQ+ media award.
Jim Obergfell is an icon of LGBTQ+ progress. After his husband died in 2013, he went to court to fight for their marriage to be federally recognized. It was 2016 supreme court case which legalized gay marriage in the U.S. He then became an author and public gay rights activist.
This thread could be endless because we’ve always been here, fighting for visibility, liberation, and protections. Our rich history has been repressed by mainstream society, but #LGBTQHistoryMonth   is a chance to celebrate our community’s immeasurable strength and power. 🏳️‍🌈❤️📚
You can follow @radiantbutch.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: