To celebrate Pride Month, here are five LGBT activists who fought for rights, and who continue to speak out to this day.
Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson. Photo via Netflix
Marsha P. Johnson was an African American transgender woman who was an LGBT rights activist and an outspoken advocate for trans people of color. Johnson was an integral part of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and along with Sylvia Rivera (a fellow activist), she later established the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization committed to helping homeless trans youth in New York City. She was murdered July 6, 1992 when she was 46. Her life has been celebrated in numerous books, documentaries, and films.
Harvey Milk. Photo via milkfoundation.org
Harvey Milk was a visionary civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk was unapologetic as a candidate and his win gave hope to LGBT people everywhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. His career was cut short when he was assassinated nearly a year after taking office.
He received daily death threats and was aware of the likelihood that he may be assassinated. He recorded several versions of his will, “to be read in the event of my assassination.” One of his tapes contained the now-famous statement, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” His nephew, Stuart Milk, a teenager at the time and close with his uncle, came out, along with countless others across the nation, on the day his uncle was killed. Shortly after Milk’s death, people marching for gay rights in Washington, D.C., chanted “Harvey Milk lives!”
Dan Savage. Photo via Dan Savage’s Facebook.
Dan Savage, a well-known author and media pundit, along with his husband Terry Miller, founded the It Gets Better Project. According to the website, its mission is to uplift, empower, and connect LGBT youth around the globe. It reads, “Growing up isn’t easy, especially when you are trying to affirm and assert your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can be a challenging and isolating process – but, the good news is, no one has to do it alone.”
Audre Lorde. Photo Credit: K. Kendall, “Audre Lorde,” 1980.
Audre Lorde, a Caribbean-American writer and activist, is a self-proclaimed "black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet.” Her dedication and impact in utilizing creativity to take on serious issues pertaining to race and sexuality make her a notable figure for social justice in all respects.
She also published a book “Your Silence Will Not Protect You: Essays And Poems,” which is a collection of her writings that focus on key themes such as: shifting language into action, silence as a form of violence, and the importance of history.
Former NBA player John Amaechi speaks at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2007. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
John Amaechi is an English psychologist, consultant and former professional basketball player. He speaks out why NBA players stay closeted. He was in the closet himself during his playing days, and says he consistently heard players using anti-gay slurs.
When he came out in 2007, Amaechi received mixed reactions from his former NBA peers. Amaechi knew that the decision to come out is a deeply personal one, and he was adamant that no NBA player should feel obligated to reveal his sexual orientation in the name of social progress. If a player — or anyone for that matter — comes out, Amaechi hopes they’re doing it for themselves.
“I want people to come out because being out is better than being in.”