queer stories

7 awesome activists who have made LGBTQIA+ history

We're celebrating these activists who have done so much for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Charlotte Fountaine (she/her)
May 1, 2023

This year we want to celebrate LGBTQIA+ figures from across the years. This is a time to celebrate all the awesome things that these people have done. From Keith Haring’s murals to Audre Lorde’s poetry. We hope that you’ll share this post with allies, and together we can all understand more about the fight that’s happened, and the fight to come.

black and white photo of christine doing make up

Christine Jorgensen 1929 - 1989

Christine was the first person to become widely knowing in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery. When she was fresh out of school she served in the US army back in World War 2. After returning from war and having surgery she became a celebrity. She was known for her directness and polished wit, and she advocated for transgender people. This pride month you can celebrate Christine but putting on “I Enjoy Being a Girl”, a song she performed and made famous.

annie lennox, a white woman with short blonde hair, sings passionately

Annie Lennox 1954 - Present

Annie is a Scottish singer and songwriter, activist, philanthropist known for being part of The Tourists and the iconic 80s synth-pop duo Eurythmics you’d recognise as the  androgenous dreamy human in the song SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS music video. She’s raised money for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Absolutely iconic.

audre stands in front of a black board

Audre Lorde 1934 - 1992

Audre called herself “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”. In her poems she addressed: racism, sexism, classism, capitalism and homophobia. Audre was born in New York to Caribbean immigrants. She wrote her first poem when she was in eight grade. An exert from one of her poems “Now”

 “Woman power is //Black power is //Human power is always feeling my heart beats as my eyes open as my hands move as my mouth speaks.”  
black and white image of keith standing in front of his patterned artwork. he is white wearing round black glasses

Keith Haring 1958 - 1990

Keith Haring was an artist and activist. He was a pop artist creating beautiful patterns which have been recreated and pastiched for years to come. When he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 he set up the Keith Haring Foundation, providing funding and imagery to AIDS organisations and children’s programmes. He dedicated his last years to speaking out about the AIDS epidemic.

Simon is standing with a few people behind him, a young black man smiling into the camera

Simon Nkoli 1957 - 1998

Simon Tseko Nkoli was an anti-apertheid, gay rights and AIDs activist in South Africa. Nkoli was fighting for justice back when Nelson Mandela was campaigning in 1994. They met and he helped campaign for protection from discriminiation in the Bill of Rights in the 1994 South Africal constitution and for the repeal of South Africa’s sodomy law. In May 1998 just before he passed away the repeal happened. Now in South Africa same-sex marriage is legal as is change of legal gender. But there’s still work to be done in terms of stigma.

Marsha is a black woman wearing sequins. She has curly hair and there's a crowd behind her

Marsha P Johnson 1945-1992

Marsha P. Johnson was an Africian-American drag artist from New Jersey, whose activism in the 60s and 70s had a huge impact on our community. When Marsha was 23 police raided The Stonewall Inn in New York. Police formed 200 people onto the streets and used excessive violence against them. Marsha was a key figure who stood up against the police, resisting arrest and leading protests demanding gay rights. These protests spread around the world, inspiring others to fight for equality.

ifti is an asian man smiling at the camera, wearing a sparkly waistcoat

Ifti Nasim 1946 - 2011

A gay Pakistani American poet. Having moved to the United States to escape persecution for his sexual orientation, he became known locally for establishing Sangat, an organization to support LGBT south-Asian youths, and internationally for publishing Narman, a poetry collection that was the first open expression of homosexual themes in the Urdu language.

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