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LGBTQ+ Activists Gay LGBTQ+ Aktivisten: Top 10 der LGBTQ+Bewegung, die Geschichte geschrieben haben

10 Important LGBTQ+ Activists of the Queer Community

These 10 people have made history for the LGBTQ+ Movement. The path in the right direction always starts with a first step usually taken by very brave people who disagree with the given circumstances. The fight of the LGBTQ+ community for equality, tolerance, and acceptance on the numerous Gay Pride parades and demonstrations began with a small step.

However, there have been many lesbian, gay, transgender and queer people who have taken this first step, helping to make the LGBTQ+ movement what it is today. That’s why in this article on Couple of Men, we’ll introduce you to 10 LGBTQ+ activists who have made significant contributions to the progress of the LGBTQ+ history like Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, and Ellen DeGeneres. All in their own special and personal way.

Text by Sarah Tekath
Translated by Karl Krause


Top 10: Well-known LGBTQ+ Activists

#1 Marsha P. Johnson

Born in New Jersey in 1945, Marsha P. Johnson was a famous drag-queen and LGBTQ+ activist involved in the Stonewall riots in 1969, which are generally seen as the catalyst for today’s Gay Pride parades. The following year she co-founded the activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which supports homeless transgender people and drag queens. In her last years, Johnson campaigned to raise awareness of AIDS. In 1992, she was found dead in the Hudson River. The police categorized the case as a suicide, although relatives expressed doubts. Ten years later, the status was changed to ‘unexplained’.



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#2 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

Already in the 19th century, there were people who stood up for equal rights, tolerance, and LGBTQ+ rights and one of the most famous of these activists is certainly the German Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. He is considered a pioneer of sexology and a champion of gender equality. The scientist researched and published on the subject of same-sex love and called for the possibility for two men getting married as well. On the occasion of the German Lawyer’s Day in 1867, he spoke publicly for the impunity of homosexual acts. He also confessed his time openly to his sexual identity and is therefore locally referred to as the ‘first gay in world history‘.



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#3 Barbara Gittings

Detainee vigils in 1965 in front of the White House, the United States Department of State, and the Independence Hall in Philadelphia also involved journalist Barbara Gittings, now considered the mother of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. She was also involved in a subgroup of the American Library Association and initiated the first of its kind kissing happening with the motto ‘Hug a Homosexual’ in Dallas. In the years 1970 and 1971, she appeared along with six other women in American television shows. This made them the first women to show themselves as lesbians in public.



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#4 Harvey Milk

Harvey Bernard Milk was the first openly gay US politician. Although initially barely interested in politics, he saw in his candidacy the best way to advance the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The motto of Harvey Milk was, among other things, “gays choose gay” as a result in response to some homosexual retailers being denied a license to open a store. In this context, he also initiated a street party, the Castro Street Fair, which is still celebrated in San Francisco’s gay neighborhood Castro today. In 1978, Milk was shot dead by former city councilman Dan White. After the verdict (seven years in prison for manslaughter) there were serious clashes between gays and the police, called White Night Riots.



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#5 Magnus Hirschfeld

Born in 1868, German physician Magnus Hirschfeld is one of the founders of the first LGBTQ+ rights movement. Together with the publisher Max Spohr, the lawyer Eduard Oberg and the writer Franz Joseph von Bülow, he founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (WhK), which was the world’s first organization to decriminalize sexual acts between men. Hirschfeld also published the journal ‘Jahrbuch für sexual Zwischenstufen’ for several years. He also followed in his researches the theses of the ‘third gender’ and ‘sexual intermediates’.



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#6 Audre Lorde

Author and poet Audre Lorde called herself a ‘black lesbian feminist mother poet warrior’. While studying at Hunter College from 1954 to 1959, she became acquainted with the culture of gay bars in Greenwich Village, New York, and incorporated it into her book ‘Zami’. In the 1960s, Lorde married and got two children. The marriage was divorced and the author lived with women for the rest of her life. In her poem ‘Martha’, she is openly committed to her homosexuality with the words “we shall love each other here if ever at all.” In addition to her commitment to the LGBT community, she is also considered an important figure in feminism.


#7 Bayard Rustin

A man in the background, but by no means less influential and insignificant to the LGBT community, was civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. He advised Dr. Martin Luther King in Nonviolent Resistance, was openly gay and has been advocating for LGBTQ+ cases in the latest years of his career. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin worked as a human rights and election observer for the NGO Freedom House. He was also heard as an expert in advising the Gay Rights Bill of the State of New York. He called out on LGBTQ+ organizations to campaign for all minorities. In 2003 President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him the Presidental Medal of Freedom.



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#8 Christine Jorgensen

After a gender reassignment surgery in 1952, US-based Christine Jorgensen became the first transgender person to gain much media attention, which she used to raise awareness of transgender issues. Because of Jorgensen’s time in the military, there were headlines such as “GI becomes a woman” or “Ex-GI becomes blonde beauty”. In 1959, she applied for a marriage permit, which was denied because her birth certificate identified her as a male only. In 2012, American social scientist, filmmaker and transgender activist Susan Stryker produced a 90-minute film collage titled ‘Christine in the Cutting Room’.


#9 Nikolay Alexeyev

While tolerance for the LGBT community is already well advanced in many countries, there are still countries where criminal prosecution and physical threats prevail. Russia is one of them, and it is here that activist Nikolay Alexeyev campaigns for the freedom of assembly of gays and lesbians during Moscow Pride. The LGBTQ+ event has been banned since 2006 regularly by the Lord Mayor of the city. In 2005, Alexeyev founded the Gayrussia.ru project, which has become the main source of information for the situation of LGBTQ+ in Russia and the driving force for equal rights for LGBT people in Russia.



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#10 Ellen DeGeneres

The talk show presenter Ellen DeGeneres is probably one of the best known (lesbian) Americans ever. She was twice voted number one on the 50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America by Out magazine. She had her public coming out in her own sitcom as her serial character and at the same time as a private person. In the book Love, Ellen, her mother describes her reaction to her daughter’s outing. DeGeneres is involved with the organization PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and is the spokeswoman for the HRC Coming Out Project. She is in a relationship with actress Portia de Rossi and announced the engagement one day after the same-sex marriage ban in California (USA) was lifted. Currently, the LGBTQ+ activist draws attention to the newly introduced capital punishment in Brunei with boycott calls.



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LGBTQ+ Activists from then until now

Sure, our list of influential activists in the LGBTQ+ rights movement could have been much longer, because of everyday people around the world champion for love, tolerance, and equality – either loud in the foreground or quietly in the background – and they’re all the same important.














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Photo Source: Instagram, YouTube, Unsplash
Info Source: BBC | Wikipedia | Redbookmag | Fembio

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More about Sarah

The first woman behind Couple of Men. My name is Sarah and I was born in Germany. So far I have lived and worked in the Czech Republic, Spain, and the Netherlands. Currently, I am working in Amsterdam. I am a journalist and in 2016, I decided to become freelancer. I enjoy writing about topics that I consider important, like human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and politics, and I hope my articles will raise some more awareness of global injustice. I follow my passion for traveling, I love to read and to make music. And the best part is that I can choose to turn into a digital nomad for a while whenever I feel like it. So my article might come from a sunny beach in Argentina.

Around the world as LGBTQ+ activists

We are often referred to as LGBTQ+ activists, even though we actually only show and express our affection for each other while traveling. For us being openly gay means a bit of freedom and the opportunity to be who we really are: two people who love each other. Why should one have to hide for it? Why should we be treated differently from the rest of humanity? And yet, we as gay men compared to other minorities in the LGBTQ+ community are clearly in the majority, official figures say. No matter where we are in the world, with our blog Couple of Men, we want to show that we are all human and that all varieties of sexual orientation, gender, and gender identification are “normal” and healthy and diverse as long as it is not hurting anyone else. All people should support this motto because it’s not about taking away from the majority but equipping minorities with the same human rights.


LGBTQ+ Activists LGBTQ+ Aktivisten der Queer Community Gay Kiss - of a Couple of Men | CSD Berlin Gay Pride 2018 © Coupleofmen.com

Equality! The Top 10 LGBTQ+ Activists of the Queer Community © Coupleofmen.com

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