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Leaders

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Saved by Rob Darrow
on September 6, 2016 at 1:28:52 pm
 

Gay Rights Leaders

Some of the people that contributed to the gay rights movement are listed below. Any list of important people may unintentionally exclude some. This list, based on the names listed in the California History-Social Science Framework, seeks to provide a short description of 25 important people in gay rights history.

 

Addams, Jane (1860-1935). Born a white female in Illinois and would be considered lesbian by today’s standards. Co-founder of Hull House in Chicago, a place for women to live and work together, co-founder of the ACLU and was the second woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She is given credit for contributing the Progressive Movement and for bringing attention to many of the social issues of the day such as sanitation, child labor and women’s rights. She lived much of her life with her friend, Mary Rozet Smith.

 

Cashier, Albert (1843-1915). Born a white female in Ireland named Jennie Hodgers. Eventually immigrated to Illinois. Cashier fought in the Civil War as a male Union soldier and lived out his life as a male drawing a military pension.

 

Hall, Radclyffe (1880-1943). Born a white female, lived in England and was a lesbian. She wrote the novel, Well of Loneliness (1928), which was one of the first novels written that included lesbian themes. The book was banned because of an obscenity trial in England and all copies were destroyed.

 

Hay, Harry (1912-2002). Born a white male in England, eventually immigrated to California and was gay. A gay activist who helped found gay rights organizations including the Mattachine Society (195), Gay Liberation Front (1969) and Radical Faeries (1979). Some consider Hay to be the “father of gay liberation.”

 

Hirschfeld, Magnus (1868-1935). Born a white male in Prussia and was straight. Was a Jewish German physician who founded the Institute of Sexual Research in 1921. Was one of the first medical practitioners to write about the “natural order” of homosexual and transgender rights. The Nazi Party destroyed his building and books in 1933.  

 

Hughes, Langston (1902-1967). Born an African American male in Missouri and lived most of his life in Harlem, New York. Historians are unsure whether Hughes was straight or a closeted gay. He was a poet, writer and novelist who wrote about African American history and was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

 

Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960). Born an African American female in Alabama and lived in New Jersey and Florida. Some historians believe she would be considered a bisexual - she had two short-term marriages to men but also had friendships with women. She was an American novelist, short story writer and anthropologist. She was active in furthering the Harlem Renaissance and was a contemporary of Langston Hughes.

 

Jorgensen, Christine (1926-1989). Born a white male named George Jorgensen in New York and served in the U.S. Army. In 1951, she began sex reassignment surgery in Denmark. She became an American actress and one of the first advocates for transgender rights.

 

Leitsch, Dick (1935 - ). Born a white male in Kentucky, lived most of his life in New York and was gay. Founded the New York branch of the Mattachine Society, staged the “Sip in” at New York bars in 1966 as an act of civil disobedience to overturn liquor laws that banned serving gay people in bars, and was one of the first to write about the Stonewall Riots in 1969.

 

Milk, Harvey (1930-1978). Born a white male in New York, lived in New York and California and was gay. Served in the Navy and worked a variety of jobs before becoming the first out gay politician to be elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978. Later in the year, he was assassinated while in office at the age of 43. One of his early relationships was with Craig Rodwell. One of the interns who worked in his supervisor office was Cleve Jones.

 

Jones, Cleve (1954- ). Born a white male in Indiana, lived most of his life in San Francisco and was gay. He has worked most of his life as an LGBT activist and was the originator of the AIDS quilt and was one of the co-founders of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He worked as an intern in Supervisor Harvey Milk’s office. 

 

Kameny, Frank (1925-2011). Born a white male in New York, lived most of his life in Washington, D.C. and was gay, but listed his race as “human”. He served in the U.S. Army and received his PhD from Harvard. After working as a professor, he took a job working for the U.S. government, but was released from his position because of his homosexuality. He co-founded the Washington D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society and spent the rest of his life advocating for gay rights and is credited with coining the phrase, “gay is good.” 

 

Katz, Jonathan Ned (1938-  ). Born an African American male in New York, lived most of his life in New York and was gay. He is a historian who wrote the book, Gay American History, in 1976. He founded the website and project, Outhistory.org in 2008, that highlights the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  

 

Kinsey, Alfred (1894-1956). Born a white male in New Jersey, lived most of his life in Indiana and was bisexual. He was married and had four children. He earned a doctorate in science from Harvard University. He became the first American sexologist and published two important documents, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). He developed the Kinsey Scale where 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual.

 

Locke, Alan (1885-1954). Born an African American male in Pennsylvania, lived most of his life in Washington D.C. and was gay. He earned his college degrees at Harvard University and the University of Berlin. He was the first African American to become a Rhodes Scholar and became a professor of philosophy at Howard University. One of his students was American actor Ossie Davis. Many historians consider Locke as the “dean” of the Harlem Renaissance, a leading intellectual force behind the Renaissance who encouraged many writers and artists of the time.

 

Lyon, Phyllis (1924-  ). Born a white female in San Francisco, lived most of her life in San Francisco as a writer, feminist and gay rights activist and was lesbian. She earned college degrees at U.C. Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Founded Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian organization, along with her partner, Del Martin. They were one of the first couples married when same sex marriage was legalized in California in 2004.

 

Martin, Dorothy “Del” (1921-2008). Born a white female in Oklahoma and lived most of her life in San Francisco, worked as a writer, feminist and gay rights activist, and was lesbian. Founded Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian organization, along with her partner, Phyllis Lyon. They were one of the first couples married when same sex marriage was legalized in California in 2004.

 

Noble, Elaine (1944-   ). Born a white female in Pennsylvania, lived most of her life in Boston, and was lesbian. She studied at Boston University, Emerson College and Harvard University. She was the first openly gay or lesbian person to serve in a state legislature when she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1975.  

 

Perry, Troy (1940-  ). Born a white male in Florida, lived most of his life in California, and came out as gay after being married to a woman and having two sons. He founded the Metropolitan Community Church in California, a church that ministered to LGBT people and a place for gay people to worship God freely. The church grew to 222 congregations in the U.S. and has a presence in 37 countries. MCC has been a leading advocate for “queer” theology. He currently lives with his partner in Los Angeles.

 

Rainey, Gertrude “Ma” (1886-1939). Born an African American female in Georgia, lived most of her life in Alabama, New York and Georgia and was considered bisexual. She was married at one point to a man, but later had a close relationship with another singer. Was a blues singer known as the “mother of the blues,” her song lyrics included references to lesbian affairs, and her music contributed to the Harlem Renaissance.

 

Rivera, Sylvia (1951-2002). Born as a Latino male named Ray Rivera in New York. Lived in New York all of her life and would call herself gay, transgender or a drag queen. She dressed as a female most of her life. Co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in 1970, a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women of color. She worked as an advocate for gay, transgender and homeless rights.

 

Rodwell, Craig (1940-1993). Born a white male in Illinois. Lived most of his life in New York and was gay. Founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore in New York, the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian literature, helped establish the first Gay Pride event and was one of the leaders of the Mattachine Society. The bookstore became a gathering place for gays and lesbians. He was present at the Stonewall riots and had a relationship with Harvey Milk.

 

Rustin, Bayard (1912-1987). Born an African American male in Pennsylvania, and lived most of his life in Harlem, New York after attending some college and was gay. He fought for civil and gay rights. He was a strategist who worked with Martin Luther King to organize and implement the 1963 March on Washington. Most historians credit Rustin with bringing Gandhi’s nonviolent protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence. He lived with his partner, Walter Naegle, until his death.

 

Sarria, Jose (1922-2013). Born a Latino American male in San Francisco, lived most of his life in San Francisco and was gay. He served in the U.S. Army and then moved back to San Francisco. He worked as a waiter, sung and performed as a drag queen in the Black Cat, a gay bar. He founded the League for Civil Education that educated gay men about their rights. In 1961, he became the first openly gay candidate for a public office when he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He lost the election, but his campaign illustrated the power of gay voters for future elections. He established the Imperial Court System, which raises money for LGBT related causes, primarily through drag balls and related events.

 

Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900). Born a white male in Ireland. Lived most of his life in Ireland and England but traveled the world giving lectures on different topics. Attended Oxford University, was married and had two sons, and was gay. He wrote plays, novels and poems that were popular at the time and have been remade into movies. Some of his plays, especially “The Importance of Being Earnest,” included gay themes. He endured a series of trials for libel and about his male relationships. He spent two years of hard labor in prison for “gross indecency” in London from 1895-1897.  

 

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