LGBT+ History Month is a month-long, annual, celebration and remembrance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. It looks at the history of gay rights, which is also related to the civil rights movements. The main and overall aims of the month are to promote two things: equality and diversity. 

In the UK, LGBT+ History Month has been an annual event since 2005. Every year there is a theme and a well-publicised launch event at a high profile location to try and get the message out to lots of people. Since 2011, LGBT+ History Month has been linked to a different school subject each year — in 2021 the theme ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ links it to PSHE.

LGBT+ History Month was started in the USA in 1994 as a result of Black History Month. It was started by a high school teacher named Rodney Wilson. While teaching about the Nazis, Wilson revealed to his class that he was gay and told them that this was something he could have been killed for.

The people writing this are not from the LGBT+ community, but want to use this as an opportunity to amplify LGBT+ voices and show our support. 

How does LGBT History Month promote Equality and Diversity?
In order to promote equality and diversity in the UK, LGBT+ History Month raises awareness and educates the wider population all over the world about matters that affect the LGBT+ community. They work towards improving institutions and educational facilities so that all are safe places for LGBT+ people. 

Finally, LGBT History Month promotes the welfare of the community, that all who belong to the community contribute to society, lead fulfilled lives and benefit themselves and others. 

Why do we have LGBT History Month? 
LGBT+ History Month aims to put LGBT+ people back into the history books by showing how they have always been present in society and have been vital contributors to human progress — whether or not their status has been acknowledged historically.

Facebook @BlackhistorymonthUK

Twitter @LGBTHM


Mermaids works with young people who feel at odds with the gender they have been assigned. They also work with parents and carers of young people going through these feelings.

As well as reading information on their website, you can also call the Mermaids helpline on 0344 334 0550 (Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm) if you’d prefer to talk to someone. Mermaids also operates an emergency text service – if you need help now, text ‘Mermaids’ to 85258.

Mindline Trans+ is a UK-wide helpline run by and for trans, non-binary, gender-diverse and gender-fluid people. They offer a confidential and non-judgemental listening service – just call 0300 330 5468 (Monday & Friday, 8pm-midnight). The service is also available for friends and families of trans+ people in need of support and advice. Calls are occasionally answered by cisgender allies.

Gendered Intelligence run projects for young people who identify as trans. Their Knowledge is Power resource is a great place to start educating yourself about trans people and trans issues. They also have information for parents and families, as well as for adults who work with young people (such as teachers and youth workers).

Young Stonewall is there to help all young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people – as well as those who are questioning – here and abroad, know they’re not alone. They want to empower all young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to campaign for equality and fair treatment for LGBTQ people, and against discrimination.

OXFORD PRIDE isn’t a national organisation, but they’ve been at the forefront of awareness, events, and support for the community in Oxfordshire for years. Oxford Pride is a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer life in Oxfordshire. The events supporting or arranged by Oxford Pride promote awareness of LGBT issues and lifestyles by providing information, education and entertainment in a safe and encouraging environment.

MINDOUT is a mental health service run by and for lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people with experience of mental health issues.We work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities and to make mental health a community concern.

BI PRIDE UK continuously creates a safe space for bi people in the UK. They celebrate the vibrant and inspiring people to look up to to educate, inform, and make lasting change.

COLOURS YOUTH NETWORK want to ensure that across the UK, every LGBT+ young person of colour has ​access to a local provision and support ​​that is led by LGBT+ people of colour.

HIDAYAH (means guidance in Arabic) is a registered charity and they are entirely volunteer-led. Hidayah is a secular organisation, however, whose projects and activities are developed specifically for the needs of LGBTQI+ Muslims.

LONDON GAYMERS is a safe place for the LGBT+ gaming community in London and across the UK to connect with like-minded individuals.

SPARKLE’S mission is to promote a positive public image of the Trans community within the UK and beyond.

THE OUTSIDE PROJECT are LGBTIQ+ colleagues, friends & activists who work in the Homeless sector & have lived experience of homelessness & the unique, complex issues our community face. They volunteered to launch the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ Crisis/Homeless Shelter & Community Centre. They launched publicly at London Pride 2017, campaigning alongside the passionate & talented LGBTIQ+ community of activists & artists.

THE PROUD TRUST is a life saving and life enhancing organisation that helps LGBT+ young people empower themselves, to make a positive change for themselves, and their communities.

STONEWALL work to ensure that LGBT people, across all communities, are valued, welcomed by all and can participate fully in society, and to ensure that LGBT people better understand and respect difference across LGBT life.

You don’t need to be woke to educate yourself on terminology. There are a number of misconceptions about LGBTQIA+ terms and concepts. Learn more here, so you can fully support our diverse LGBTQIA+ communities

Become an Ally to the LGBT+ Community. This site has helpful information about the best ways that you can show concern for the wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ community, advocate for equal rights, and confront challenges that members of the community face in society.

There are plenty of events to choose from this LGBT+ History Month –
See Eventbrite events
See LGBT+ History Month official events

Here are a few of our selected highlights:

LGBT+ History Month Quiz!
6-8pm, 12 February
In recognition of LGBT+ History Month 2021, we are delighted to bring you an exciting evening of questions, trivia, facts and entertainment, giving you an insight into LGBT+ people and culture, past and present.

OUTing the past: The Festival of LGBT History
12-12.30pm, 17 February
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is delighted to join OUTing the past.

LGBT+ History Month: LGBT+ Parenting
7-8pm, 23 February
Have you ever wondered what is it like to be LGBT+ and a parent? How about if your child comes out as LGBT+? Join us for a fascinating discussion on these topics.

The Louder We Get: An LGBT+ concert-lecture for LGBT+ History Month
7-9pm, 23 February
Join the LGBT+ Performing Arts Research Project for an evening of songs, poems and discussion about LGBT+ representation in the performing arts. The event will include performances from our Performing Arts students as well as mini-panels about a range of topics that our members have been researching over the past few months.

LGBTQ+ history & me: Impact of defining moments of LGBTQ+ history & culture
5-6.30pm, 24 February
This tea-time talk will discuss the month-long video series, submitted by Building Equality members and shared on Building Equality social media, on how historical and cultural moments of LGBTQ+ history have impacted them, their family, friends and the wider LGBTQ+ community – from The Stonewall Riots, Section 28 and same-sex marriage to Paris is Burning, The L-Word, and RuPauls’ Drag Race.

LGBT+ History Month: Celebrating the Community
11-12pm, 25 February
For LGBT+ History Month join The Prince’s Trust to celebrate the community and learn how we can create an inclusive workplace to support young people.

LGBT+ History Month: Coaches’ Kitchen – Queer Kitchen 
12-2pm, 25 February
A delightfully bizarre attempt to unearth truths and create some delicious queer food. Sometimes we eat queer food – food that does not seem mainstream, but yet is. It is OK, you can eat it. Come out of the food closet.

Children’s literature
Pop ‘n’ Olly Books
The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie.
Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt

PROUD (anthology)
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Adult literature
Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski
Gears for Queers by Abigail Melton and Lilith Cooper
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
Camp by LC Rosen
The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes

Milk (2008) is an American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) tells the story of a teenage girl forced into a gay conversion therapy centre by her conservative guardians in 1993. Based on the 2012 novel by Emily M. Danforth

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) tells the story of Megan, a high school cheerleader whose parents send her to a residential inpatient conversion therapy camp to cure her lesbianism. There, Megan soon comes to embrace her sexual orientation, despite the therapy, and falls in love.

Mysterious Skin (2004) tells the story of two pre-adolescent boys who both experienced a strange event as children, and how it affects their lives in different ways into their young adulthood.

Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts (2019) is a film documenting drag queen and singer-songwriter Trixie Mattel’s rise to fame and subsequent country music career, as well as life after her win of season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017) is an American documentary film directed by David France, that chronicles Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, prominent figures in gay liberation and transgender rights movement in New York City from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Paris Is Burning (1990) chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it. Critics consider the film to be an invaluable documentary of the end of the “Golden Age” of New York City drag balls, and a thoughtful exploration of race, class, gender, and sexuality in America.

A Long Line of Glitter (2017) is a short film created and shaped by a community of LGBT 50+ people living in or around Glasgow. The film offers the rare chance to witness the unique perspective of people who have lived through changes the LGBT+ community now take for granted.

Television/Web Series
Ru Paul’s Drag Race is an American reality competition television series that’s been going for 13 seasons and counting, even extending to international versions of the hit show. RuPaul, a drag queen icon, heads up the show with a rotating panel of judges as they search for America’s ‘next drag superstar’. Hilarious, glamorous, and sassy – perfect viewing for a night in.

Queer Eye is an award-winning show has been a global success within audiences, and is known for its strong representation amongst the LGBT community and communities that include people of color. Featuring a Fab Five: Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert; Karamo Brown, culture expert; Bobby Berk, design expert; and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert, each week the experts give lifestyle and fashion makeovers to guests. 

Feel Good is a British comedy-drama giving a deeply personal and poignant story about the unique pressures of navigating the modern-day fluid landscape of gender and sexuality.

Sex Education is a British comedy-drama television series created by Laurie Nunn. Starring Asa Butterfield as an insecure teenager and Gillian Anderson as his mother, a sex therapist who is frank about all aspects of sexuality.

Pose is an American drama television series about New York City’s African-American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming drag ball culture scene in the 1980s and early 1990s.

LGBTQ+ Stories from Scotland: The Social Presents puts Scotland’s LGBTQ+ community firmly in the spotlight. From a drag dad to a queer bookshop, powerful coming out stories, a rallying cry for trans rights and much more featured in this special.

BBC Queer History is a radio series which looks at aspects of queer history. The latest episode asks what the value of assessing whether historical figures were trans or gay is? And how do you ‘prove’ that identity now?

Equality Education from Olly Pike explores the best practices for an LGBT+ and equality inclusive education. With guest speakers, tips and advice, Equality Education is a show is for teachers, parents or anyone who believes in a kinder, more accepting society for future generations.

@Queer_Britain is a charity working to establish the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum. Their series of lockdown podcasts are enlightening, engaging, and information.

One From the Vaults is a podcast that covers trans history, from the dirt to the glamour. It is written and presented by Morgan M. Page, a Canadian writer, performance and video artist based in the U.K. It explores the lives of trans men and women throughout history, their struggles and their accomplishments. 

Making Gay History brings to light the little-heard stories of the LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement through interviews and conversations with activists. This podcast was created and is hosted by Eric Marcus, a journalist who has devoted much of his career to documenting queer history.

History is Gay Two is a podcast from two self-proclaimed queer nerds sharing their love for the past, hijinks, all things gay, and from unexplored corners of history who have always been there.

Me and my Asexuality features model and activist Yasmin Benoit exploring asexuality and its place in a society fascinated with relationships. 

Trans 20:20s is an eight–part podcast series created by leading writer and filmmaker Juliet Jacques, looking at life for young trans, non-binary and gender diverse people from across the UK and beyond, at the start of the 2020s.

Rose and Rosie: Parental Guidance follows comedy duo and married couple Rose and Rosie’s most intimate adventure yet: starting a family. By speaking to friends and peers who have conquered parenthood head-on, they hope to learn how to rear their roost righteously in an ever evolving social climate.

Some Families, the UK’s first LGBTQ+ parenting podcast series, aims to support families and answer questions for those curious about queer parenthood. Hosts Lotte Jeffs and Stu Oakley share funny, emotional and true stories from their own experiences as a lesbian mum and gay dad and chat to a plethora of guests from the LGBTQ+ community to discuss the ups and downs of parenting through an LGBTQ+ lens.

Adventures in Time and Gender features a young non-binary person and a talking Suitcase travelling through time, space and Ikea in search of trans history.

The Log Books podcast features stories from Britain’s LGBTQIA+ history and conversations about being queer today

Not only was Mr Gay New Zealand 2018 Ricky Devine White a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal New Zealand Navy but he was also named in the top 5 personal trainers by exerciseNZ, and the New Zealand Fitness Mentor of the Year. Here is his take his take on how exercise can influence good mental health.

The Gay Outdoor Club operates throughout Great Britain and provides a wide range of outdoor and indoor sports and recreational activities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender men and women. Formed from the much larger Berks and Mid Thames Group, The Gay Outdoor Club Oxford focuses on the Oxford area specifically.

Pride Sports basic aims are to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport and improve access to sport for LGBT+ people. In working towards these goals theycampaign for change, educate, promote good practice, and hope to actively grow LGBT+ participation and satisfaction in sport.

Outdoor Lads is a friendly group of gay, bisexual and trans men who get together for day walks, mountaineering, climbing, road cycling, hosteling, and bouldering.

Bayard Rustin Bayard Rustin was a gay, civil rights activist, best known for his work as adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. Though he was arrested several times under the LGBT-phobic laws of the time and for civil disobedience, he continued to fight for equality. Much of his work was ‘behind the scenes’ in part due to the public’s discomfort with his sexuality. In 2013, Bayard was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. 

Anne Lister lived at a time when wealthy women were expected to stay home, sew and learn music, instead this pioneer became an educated businessperson, landowner, mountaineer and world traveller. Sent to a girl’s boarding school by her mother who couldn’t cope with Anne’s ‘masculine’ behaviour, Anne fell in love with another pupil and began recording their feelings in a coded diary which they would keep for the rest of their life. Aged 43, in 1834, Anne Lister and the woman they loved, Anne Walker, took sacrament in church together and in their eyes they were married. Throughout Anne’s life they were faced with abuse and mockery for not fitting in with what was expected of women during that time and today Anne is celebrated for the same. Anne’s story was recently told in the BBC drama Gentleman Jack.

Gladys Bentley was a gender-bending performer during the Harlem Renaissance. Donning a top hat and tuxedo, Bentley would sing the blues in Harlem establishments like the Clam House and the Ubangi Club. According to a belated obituary published in 2019, The New York Times said Bentley, who died in 1960 at the age of 52, was “Harlem’s most famous lesbian” in the 1930s and “among the best-known black entertainers in the United States.”

Stormé DeLarverie was a biracial, butch lesbian. DeLarverie was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was always a performer. As a teenager, she joined the Ringling Brothers Circus where she rode jumping horses. Then from 1955 to 1969, DeLarverie toured the black theater circuit as the MC — and only drag king — of the Jewel Box Revue, the first racially integrated drag revue in North America. She worked as a bouncer for several lesbian bars in New York City in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and held a number of leadership positions in the Stonewall Veterans Association. DeLarverie also served the community as a volunteer street patrol worker, and as a result, was called the “guardian of lesbians in the Village.” Beyond her LGBTQ activism, DeLarverie also organized and performed at fundraisers for women who suffered from domestic violence and their children.

James Baldwin was a writer and social critic, perhaps best known for his 1955 collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, and his groundbreaking 1956 novel, Giovanni’s Room, which depicts themes of homosexuality and bisexuality. The novel stood out among literary critics because it features all white characters, unlike the civil rights activist’s other novels which center the experiences of black people. Baldwin spent a majority of his literary and activist career educating others about black and queer identity, as he did during his famous lecture titled “Race, Racism, and the Gay Community” at a meeting of the New York chapter of Black and White Men Together (now known as Men of All Colors Together) in 1982.

Alvin Ailey was a choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the most prominent dance companies globally, in 1958. His signature work, including “Cry” and “Revelations,” continue to be performed all over the world. In 2014, Ailey was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his influential work in bringing dance to underserved communities.

Audre Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, feminist, mother, poet, warrior,” made lasting contributions in the fields of feminist theory, critical race studies and queer theory through her pedagogy and writing. Among her most notable works are Coal (1976), The Black Unicorn (1978), The Cancer Journals (1980) and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982). “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t,” Lorde once said.

Ernestine Eckstein was a leader in the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States. She attended “Annual Reminder” picket protests and was frequently one of the only women — and the only black woman — present at early LGBTQ rights protests. Eckstein was also an early activist in the black feminist movement of the 1970s and was involved with the organization Black Women Organized for Action. According to historians, she viewed the fight for civil rights and LGBTQ rights as intrinsically linked.

Barbara Jordan, a civil rights leader and attorney, became the first African American elected to the Texas Senate in 1966, and the first woman and first African American elected to Congress from Texas in 1972. Jordan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 1994 for her work as a political trailblazer. While Jordan never explicitly acknowledged her sexual orientation in public, she was open about her life partner of nearly 30 years, Nancy Earl.

Marsha P. Johnson – who would cheekily tell people the “P” stood for “pay it no mind” – was an outspoken transgender rights activist and is reported to be one of the central figures of the historic Stonewall uprising of 1969. Along with fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera, Johnson helped form Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a radical political organization that provided housing and other forms of support to homeless queer youth and sex workers in Manhattan. She also performed with the drag performance troupe Hot Peaches from 1972 through the ‘90s and was an AIDS activist with AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is black transgender woman and activist at the forefront of the fight for trans rights. She faced many hurdles during her life — including homelessness and incarceration — and it’s these challenges that fueled her activism. In 2005, Miss Major joined San Francisco-based Trans Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) as a staff organizer, and later as executive director, to lead the group’s efforts advocating for incarcerated trans women. She has often spoken out against the prison system, which she says contributes to the incarceration of transgender individuals, particularly trans people of color and those with low incomes. Now 79, Miss Major, known to many simply as “Mama,” resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she continues to be a vocal activist.

Ron Oden was elected mayor of Palm Springs, California in 2003, he made history by becoming the first openly gay African American man elected mayor of an American city. Following Oden’s historic election 17 years ago, the Palm Spring City Council made history once again: In December 2017, it became America’s first all-LGBTQ city council.

Phill Wilson is a prominent African American HIV/AIDS activist. Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999, in part inspired by the death of his partner from an HIV-related illness and his own HIV diagnosis. In 2010, Wilson was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Wilson also served as a World AIDS Summit delegate and advocated for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to provide additional funding to black groups so they would have the resources to educate and mobilize their community around HIV/AIDS issues. His work resulted in the “Act Against AIDS” campaign, now known as the “Let’s Stop HIV Together” campaign, which promotes HIV testing, prevention and treatment.

Andrea Jenkins made history in November 2017 by becoming the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S., according to LGBTQ advocacy groups and researchers. Jenkins, a Democrat, was one of two openly trans people to win a seat on the Minneapolis City Council in 2017. She is also a published poet and an oral historian at the University of Minnesota.

Willi Ninja was a dancer, choreographer and the “Grandfather of Vogue,” the dance style that he helped propel to the national stage. Vogueing, characterized by angular body movements and exaggerated runway poses, was introduced to the public in the award-winning 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning, which Ninja appeared in, and was popularized by Madonna’s 1990 hit song “Vogue.”

Lori Lightfoot, a former prosecutor with no experience in elected office, Lightfoot swept all 50 of Chicago’s wards in the 2019 mayoral runoff election after promising to end the city’s famed backroom dealing. She is the city’s first ever black female mayor and its first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Alphonso David became the first person of color to lead the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the U.S., in the organization’s nearly 40-year history. A graduate of the Temple University School of Law, David served as an attorney for Lambda Legal, working on LGBTQ cases around the country, and as the first openly gay counsel to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Source: NBC 17 LGBTQ Black pioneers who made history

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.

Gilbert Baker was an American artist, gay rights activist and designer of the rainbow flag which debuted back in 1978. The flag has become widely associated with LGBT+ rights, and he refused to trademark it saying it was a symbol for everyone. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Baker created the world’s largest flag, at the time.

Mark Ashton was an Irish gay rights activist who co-founded the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners Movement with close friend Mike Jackson. The support group collected donations at the 1984 Lesbian and Gay Pride march in London for the miners on strike, and the story was later immortalised in the 2014 film Pride, which saw Ashton played by actor Ben Schnetzer. Ashton also served as General Secretary of the Young Communist League. In 1987 he was admitted to Guy’s Hospital after being diagnosed with HIV/Aids. He died 12 days later of an Aids-related illness at the age of 26.

Oscar Wilde was one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for homosexuality and imprisonment at the height of his fame. Oscar was initiated into the Victorian underground of gay prostitution by Lord Alfred Douglas and he was introduced to a series of young working-class male prostitutes from 1892 onwards. He tried to sue the father of his lover for defamatory, but his books were crucial in his conviction and were quoted in court as evidence of his ‘immorality’. After being forced to do hard labour for two years, his health had suffered greatly from the harshness of prison. Although Douglas had been the cause of his misfortunes, he and Wilde were reunited in 1897 and they lived together near Naples for a few months until they were separated by their families. In 2017, Wilde was pardoned for homosexual acts under the Policing and Crime Act 2017. The Act is known informally as the Alan Turing law.

Divine was an American actor, singer, and drag queen. Closely associated with the independent filmmaker John Waters, Divine was a character actor, usually performing female roles in movies and theatre and adopted a female drag persona for his music career. Divine considered himself to be male and was not transgender.He identified as gay, and during the 1980s had an extended relationship with a married man named Lee, who accompanied him almost everywhere that he went. He initially avoided informing the media about his sexuality and would sometimes hint that he was bisexual, but in the latter part of the 1980s, he changed this attitude and began being open about his homosexuality. On advice from his manager, he avoided discussing gay rights believing it would have had a negative effect on his career.

Andy Warhol was an American artist, director and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. He lived openly as a gay man before the gay liberation movement. In an interview in 1980, he indicated that he was still a virgin but in 1960 he received hospital treatment for condylomata, a sexually transmitted disease. Throughout his career, Warhol produced erotic photography and drawings of male nudes. Many of his most famous works draw from gay underground culture or openly explore the complexity of sexuality and desire. The first works that Warhol submitted to a fine art gallery, homoerotic drawings of male nudes, were rejected for being too openly gay.

Derek Jarman was an English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener, and author. For a generation he was a hugely influential, high-profile figure at a time when there very few famous out gay men. His art was an extension of his social and personal life and he used his platform as a campaigner and created a unique body of inspiring work. Jarman participated in some of the most best-known protests including the march on Parliament in 1992. In 1986, he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and discussed his condition in public. In 1994, he died of an Aids-related illness in London, aged 52. He died the day before a key vote on the age of consent in the House of Commons, which campaigned for an equal age for both gay and straight sex. The Commons reduced the age to 18 rather than 16. The LGBTQ community had to wait until the year 2000 for full equality in relation to same-sex consent.

Barbara Gittings was a prominent American LGBT+ activist and was involved in promoting positive literature about homosexuality in libraries. She was part of the movement to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness in 1972. She met her lifelong partner Kay Tobin in 1961 and were together for 46 years.

Harvey Milk was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Although he was the most pro-LGBT politician in the United States at the time, politics and activism were not his early interests; he was neither open about his sexuality nor civically active until he was 40, after his experiences in the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Milk’s political career centred on making government responsive to individuals, gay liberation, and the importance of neighbourhoods to the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, who was another city supervisor. Milk was 48 at the time of his death.

Lili Elbe was a Danish transgender woman and among the early recipients of gender reassignment surgery. She was born Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener, and was a successful painter under that name. During this time, she also presented as Lili and was introduced publicly as Einar’s sister. In 1930, Elbe went to Germany for gender reassignment surgery, which was highly experimental at the time. A series of four operations were carried out over a period of two years. After successfully transitioning, she changed her legal name to Lili Ilse Elvenes and stopped painting altogether. Elbe began a relationship with French art dealer Claude Lejeune, whom she wanted to marry and with whom she wanted to have children. She was looking forward to her final surgery involving a uterus transplant. However, her immune system rejected the transplanted uterus, however, and she developed an infection. She died in 1931, three months after the surgery, of cardiac arrest brought on by the infection at the age of 48. Lili’s life was brought to the big screen in the 2015 movie The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne starring as her.

Sylvia Rivera was a Latina American gay liberation and transgender rights activist significant in the LGBT history of New York City and of the US as a whole. Rivera, who identified as a drag queen, was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. With her close friend Marsha P. Johnson, Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, LGBTQ+ youth and trans women. Rivera began living on the streets at the age of 11 and worked as a child prostitute. She was taken in by the local community of drag queens, who gave her the name Sylvia. At a 1973 gay liberation rally in New York City, Rivera, representing STAR, gave a brief speech from the main stage in which she called out the heterosexual males who were preying on vulnerable members of the community


Nicola Adams is a professional boxer who retired in 2019 with an undefeated record. She won gold at two consecutive Olympic Games – 2012 and 2016. After winning her first gold, she became the first openly LGBT+ person to win an Olympic boxing gold medal. In 2020 she told fans via Twitter she identifies as a lesbian, after reports identified her as bisexual.

Sir Lee Pearson is an 11-time Paralympic gold medallist, representing Britain in para-equestrianism. Over his career he has won 30 gold medals at European, World, and Paralympic level. He was the first openly gay person to carry the British flag at a Paralympic or Olympic opening ceremoney, carrying the flag at Rio in 2016.

Learn more about LGTQ+ Pioneers in this brilliant article from