Henry "Harry" Hay, Jr. (1912 –2002) was a prominent American gay rights activist, labor advocate, and Native American civil rights campaigner. Born to a wealthy middle-class family in England, Hay was raised in Chile and California. From an early age he acknowledged his same-sex sexual attraction, and came under the influence of Marxism. He become a committed activist in left-wing labor and anti-racist campaigns. As a result of societal pressure, he attempted to become heterosexual by marrying a female Party activist in 1938, with whom he adopted two children. Recognizing that he remained homosexual, his marriage ended and in 1950 he founded the Mattachine Society. Hay's developing belief in the cultural minority status of homosexuals led him to take a stand against the “assimilationism” advocated by the majority of gay rights campaigners. He subsequently became a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay Liberation Front in 1969, although in 1970 moved to New Mexico with his longtime partner John Burnside. Hay's ongoing interest in Native American spirituality led the couple to co-found the Radical Faeries in 1979. Returning to Los Angeles, Hay remained involved in an array of activist causes throughout his life, and became a well-known, albeit controversial, elder statesman within the country's gay community. He has been described as "the father of gay liberation," and has been the subject of a biography and documentary film.

Tallulah Bankhead (1902 –1968) was an American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and reputed libertine. Bankhead was also known for her deep voice, flamboyant personality and support of liberal causes, which broke with the tendency of Southern Democrats at the time to support a more conservative agenda. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1981. Rumors about Bankhead's sex life have lingered for years, and she was linked romantically with many notable female personalities of the day, including, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, as well as writer Mercedes de Acosta and singer Billie Holiday. Actress Patsy Kelly claimed she had a sexual relationship with Bankhead when she worked for her as a personal assistant. Bankhead never publicly described herself as being bisexual. She did, however, describe herself as "ambisextrous."

Vito Russo (1946 –1990) was an American LGBT activist, film historian and author who is best remembered as the author of the book The Celluloid Closet (1981. Russo developed his material following screenings of camp films shown as fundraisers for the early gay rights organization Gay Activists Alliance. He traveled throughout the country from 1972 to 1982, delivering The Celluloid Closet as a live lecture presentation with film clips at colleges, universities, and small cinemas such as the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco and the Hirschfeld Biograph in Dublin. In both the book and in the lecture/film clip presentation, he related the history of gay and lesbian moments – and the treatment of gay and lesbian characters – in American and foreign films of the past. Russo was diagnosed with HIV in 1985, and died of AIDS-related complications in 1990. His work was posthumously brought to television in the 1996 HBO documentary film The Celluloid Closet, co-executive produced and narrated by Lily Tomlin. In 2013, GLAAD named the "Vito Russo test" after him, a set of criteria intended to analyze the representation of LGBT characters in films.

1656: New Haven passes a law that punished by death “‘men lying with men as with women and women changing the ‘natural use, into which is against nature.’” This law is unique among colonial legislation for its inclusion of women’s ‘unnatural acts.’

1901: Influential New York politician Murray Hall dies and is revealed to have been a passing woman.

1912: At Polly Halliday’s restaurant in NYC, Heterodoxy, a feminist luncheon club for ‘unorthodox women’ begins meeting by monthly.

During the late 1980s, support for gay marriage was essentially unheard of in the US. 40 years later support is at its highest point in recorded history.