Important people in LGBT+ History

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In the past, people who identified as LGBTQ+ who had made massive contributions to society have gone unnoticed. People have had to hide their true selves as well as their achievements and contributions because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ+ History Month allows the successes of these people to be recognised and celebrated where previously, they were shunned.

There are so many people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community who have sacrificed so much in the fight for equality. Sadly, not everyone can be included in this list but let’s take a look at a few of those incredible people:

Alan Turing (1912 – 1954)

During World War II, Alan Turing helped to crack the Enigma Code which was the German Nazi code for communicating with each other. This discovery was a massive help in the Allies winning World War II which helped to shorten the war by approximately 2 years and save millions of people’s lives. Seven years after World War II finished in 1952, Alan Turing was convicted for being homosexual. The punishment for being convicted with homosexuality in 1952 was either imprisonment or hormonal treatment. Alan Turing was chemically castrated as a results of being gay and died at the age of 41 in 1954. In 2012, 58 years after his death, Alan Turing was pardoned for his conviction of being homosexual.

Sally Ride (1951 –2012)

Sally Ride joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman and known LGBTQ+ person in space. She was the third woman in space overall.

Michael Dillon (1915 – 1962)

Michael Dillon, an Oxford graduate who had moved to Bristol quickly learned about a doctor called George Foss, who was gaining traction for treating women with testosterone. The women often complained of the effects of testosterone – facial hair, deeper voices and increased muscle bulk. He heard of these side effects and proceeded to take testosterone to help make his appearance more masculine. Shortly after, Dillon came across plastic surgeon Sir Harold Gillis, who helped Dillon to undergo phalloplasty through 13 separate operations. Michael Dillon was the Created penis in plastic surgery. Whilst other trans men had undergone surgeries before him, Dillon was one of the first people to use testosterone, and probably the very first to receive a penis through plastic surgery.

Bayard Rustin (1912 – 1987)

Bayard Rustin, an LGBT+ man was Chief organiser of the Washington March when Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I have A Dream’ speech. His life was spent fighting social and political change in times of gross inequality. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 by President Barack Obama.

Mark Ashton (1960 – 1987)

Mark Ashton was the co-founders of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) along with Mike Jackson. Ashton fought for LGBT+ rights at a time of profound homophobia in the UK, as well as supporting the mining community particularly in South Wales. Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Ashton was admitted to Guy’s Hospital in London on 30 January 1987 and died 12 days later.

Lily Parr (1905 – 1978)

Lily Parr played football at a time of huge change in the women’s game. She scored almost 1000 goals in her football career and was a huge inspiration to young girls and woman. Parr continued to play football in spite of the restrictions of the Football Association and campaigned against the right for woman to play the sport.

Labi Siffre (1945 – Present)

Labi Siffre is a British singer-songwriter, poet, and activist. He released a number of albums in the 70s, and had his first hit in 1971 with “It Must Be Love” which was later covered by Madness. In 1985, he released his most successful single “(Something Inside) So Strong” in response to Apartheid and inspired by his experiences as a gay man. Siffre has been openly gay throughout his career, and has never shied from addressing racism and homophobia in his work.

Related Information

Explore more about LGBTQ+ communities in TheSprout’s LGBT+ Information Page.

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