Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson (1945-1992) was a Black trans woman who was a force behind the Stonewall Riots and surrounding activism that sparked a new phase of the LGBTQ+ movement in 1969. Along with Sylvia Rivera, she established the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in 1970--a group committed to supporting transgender youth experiencing homelessness in New York City. Marsha P. Johnson was tragically murdered on July 6, 1992 at the age of forty-six. Her case was originally closed by the NYPD as an alleged suicide, but transgender activist Mariah Lopez fought for it to be reopened for investigation in 2012. Marsha P. Johnson is now one of the most venerated icons in LGBTQ+ history, has been celebrated in a series of books, documentaries, and films. Her actions and words continue to inspire trans activism and resistance, and will continue to do so well into the future. Learn more about Marsha P. Johnson through the work of Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel here.
Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) is one of the most notable Stonewall veterans and fierce trans activists of the late twentieth century. Sylvia Rivera refused to accept conformity to the status quo, constantly calling out the mainstream “gay rights” movement for being complacent in perpetuating systems that continued to specifically disenfranchise people of color. Even as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance started gaining force and momentum post-Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera did not back down. The most popular video of Rivera is her fiery speech at the NYC Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in 1973 where she stressed the criticality of supporting trans people, people of color, and low-income people, particularly those who are in jail or experiencing housing instability. She fought hard against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York and was a co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR)—a group committed to providing shelter to trans youth experiencing homelessness in New York City. Sylvia Rivera continued to be an important player in trans activism until she passed away in 2002. Learn more about Sylvia Rivera here.
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) was a Civil Rights organizer and activist, best known for his work as adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the primary organizer of the March on Washington in 1963. Throughout his life, Rustin was engaged in several pacifist groups and early civil rights protests, with a particular passion for non-violent resistance. Due to his high-level status as an organizing figure, he was arrested several times for civil disobedience, as well as for being a gay man. Despite this, he never stopped fighting for equality for Black and LGBTQ+ people. He also sought to bring both the worlds of queer resistance and racial justice together, being the first person to bring the AIDS crisis to the attention of the NAACP in 1987. That same year, Bayard Rustin passed away, just four days prior to the 24th anniversary of the March on Washington. Learn more about Bayard Rustin here.
Laverne Cox is a Black transgender actress, dancer, and activist. Her breakout role was as Sophia Burset in the acclaimed Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, landing her an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series”--the very first transgender person to do so in history. Laverne Cox continued to break down barriers, appearing in several other TV shows, hitting national news, and then being featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2015. Laverne Cox remains a popular and venerated media and cultural icon, continually bringing trans struggles to the forefront of U.S. and global mainstream news. She is a leading face of the trans rights movement and inspires trans youth all over the world. Learn more about Laverne Cox here.
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a feminist, lesbian, poet, and civil rights activist. Initially a librarian for New York Public Schools in the 1960s, Lorde eventually carved her way into the academic world as a radical Black, queer woman, publishing her canonical essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House.” In the 1980s, along with Barbara Smith, she founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, dedicated to further the writing of Black feminists. She is most well known for her speech at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Learn more about Audre Lorde here.
Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, also known as Kumu Hina, is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) teacher, cultural practitioner, and community leader. She was the founding member of Kulia Na Mamo, a community organization established to improve the quality of life for māhū wahine (a Hawaiian identity similar to trans woman), and served for thirteen years as the Director of Culture at a Honolulu public charter school dedicated to using native Hawaiian culture, history, and education as tools for developing and empowering the next generation of warrior scholars. Kumu Hina is currently a cultural advisor and leader in many community affairs and civic activities, including Chair of the O'ahu Island Burial Council, which oversees the management of Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains. Learn more about Kumu Hina here.
Gloria Anzaldúa (1942-2004) was a queer Chicana poet, writer, and feminist theorist most known for her book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, a groundbreaking piece of work for the canons of cultural, feminist, and queer studies. Much of her work focuses on her experience growing up on the border of Mexico and Texas. She was the recipient of the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award, a Sappho Award of Distinction, and an NEA Fiction Award. Another notable piece of hers is The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, co-edited with Cherríe Moraga.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican painter and polio survivor known for her creative self-portraits, namely The Two Fridas (1939) and Self Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940). Beyond her art, Frida became a world-renowned figure for being openly bisexual and often dressing in traditionally masculine clothing. She is known for painting with vibrant colors with influences from indigenous Mexican cultures, as well as Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Her self-portraits are understood today as symbols of her relationship with herself, and her gender and sexuality. Learn more about Frida Kahlo here.
Angela Davis is a Black political activist, academic, and author who also identifies as a lesbian. Her work continues to focus on the intersections of race, gender, and economic justice. She first emerged as a leader within the Black Panther Party in the 1960s, and continues to work today as an intellectual on the frontlines, and at the intersections of racial, gender, and class justice movements. As a scholar, she has authored five books. Her writing offers an in-depth and intersectional account of resistance, most recently through her book, “Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement.” Learn more about Angela Davis here.
Cece McDonald is a Black trans woman activist who brought national attention to the discrimination and violence imposed on trans women of color by the carceral system. McDonald was assaulted in an anti-trans, anti-black hate crime in 2012, and was consequently imprisoned for defending herself. She made national headlines when she accepted a 41-month plea bargain for second-degree manslaughter was forced to serve her sentence in a male prison. Since then, she has sought to unveil the structural violence and discrimination imposed on trans women of color through the carceral system in the United States and across the world when fighting for their lives. McDonald continues to be a well-respected figure in trans resistance across the country, most recently for her work alongside Joshua Allen with the #BlackExcellenceTour.
Dr. Rev. Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was a queer Civil Rights leader, lawyer, women’s rights activist, and one of the first African-American woman Episcopal ministers. As a lawyer, Murray’s work set legal precedent for both Brown v. Board of Education and Reed v. Reed, both cases integral to the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements. As a women’s rights activist, Murray also worked alongside Betty Friedan to co-found the National Organization for Women. Learn more about Dr. Rev. Pauli Murray here.
Gavin Grimm is a trans activist who came out during his sophomore year in high school. After being denied entry into the boy’s bathroom at his high school in 2015, he was thrust into the national spotlight as the face of transgender student rights. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Grimm sued his school. His case was set to be heard by the Supreme Court, but then was sent back to the lower courts because of the Trump administration’s position on how Title IX should be interpreted. Despite having graduated, Grimm continues fighting for the rights of trans students today. Learn more about Gavin Grimm’s case here.
David Jay is the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). AVEN is a grassroots organization which hosts the world’s largest community for people who identify as asexual, grey-a, and demisexual (definitions found here). He works to promote ace awareness in sex education, mental health services, and the media, as well as creating spaces where ace individuals can discuss their experiences without judgement or shame. He has a vision for a world that asks all of us to work on building a society which celebrates any kind of close human relationship, whether or not it involves sex. In his work, he strives for both asexual and sexual liberation. Read some of David Jay’s writing here.
In 1988, Kevin Jennings became the faculty advisor of the first Gay-Straight Alliance led by students at Concord Academy in Massachusetts. Two years later, Kevin founded the LGBTQ+ education organization, GLSEN, seeking to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression in K-12 schools. Today, Kevin Jennings serves as the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education. He continues to be a strong advocate and spokesperson for gay rights and LGBTQ+ youth.
Leslie Feinberg (1949-2014) was as an anti-racist, white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, revolutionary communist. Feinberg is best known for writing the book Stone Butch Blues in 1993, following hir experiences as a self-identified working-class dyke. Feinberg’s other notable pieces are Transgender Warriors (1997) and Transgender Liberation (1992 & 1996). Beyond hir writing, Feinberg spent decades fiercely advocating for a wide spectrum of marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, the working class, women, and the LGBTQ+ community.Learn more about Leslie Feinberg here.
Margaret Cho is a bisexual Korean stand-up comedian, actress, fashion designer, author, and singer-songwriter. Cho is best known for her stand-up routines, through which she critiques social and political problems, especially regarding race and sexuality. She is a three-time Grammy and Emmy nominee, and has received several awards for her work advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. Learn more about Margaret Cho here.
Harvey Milk (1930-1978) was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk was assassinated almost eleven months into office in San Francisco’s City Hall by a former member of the city’s Board of Supervisors. He was responsible for passing several key gay rights ordinance for San Francisco and was known as and effective and popular member of city government before his life was cut short. In 2009, Milk was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama as a stern fighter of discrimination. Learn more about Harvey Milk here.
Andrea Jenkins is an American policy aide, politician, writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. In 2017, she became the first Black, openly transgender woman elected to public office in the United States, and started serving on the Minneapolis City Council in early 2018. In her community, she is particularly known for addressing youth violence and working with community members to provide resources to small business owners, artists, and community advocates. Learn more about Andrea Jenkins here
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a Black trans activist, Stonewall veteran, and community leader for the rights of transgender people of color. She is a survivor of Attica State Prison and credits her radical political stance on issues like Black liberation and abolition to that experience. Until 2015, she served as the Executive Director for the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, assist trans folks in the carceral system, in which they are disproportionately impacted. She now runs House of GG’s, a safe haven and retreat house for the transgender community in Arkansas. Learn more about Miss Major through her documentary here.
Candi Brings Plenty is a Queer Indigenous, Two Spirit, Oglala Lakota Sioux. She is a fierce advocate, leader and the founder of the Two-Spirit Nation camp at Standing Rock, one of three resistance camps of water protectors in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. As one of the largest gatherings of Indigenous nations in history, Standing Rock gave Candi and other two-spirit leaders the opportunity to advocate for visibility and re-establishing the role of two-spirit peoples as frontlines warriors for Indigenous sovereignty and the protection of Unći Maka (Mother Earth). Candi is now empowering other two-spirit folks nationally and tribally. She was one of the sixteen Womxn of color who made an impact in 2016 and received the “Gender Advocate Award” for ColorLines 20th anniversary. After Standing Rock, Two-Spirit Nation also initiated 501(c)3 status, and continues as a non-profit that extends to queer and two-spirit Native people who are in rural areas and on reservations across Turtle Island. Learn more about Candi Brings Plenty here.
Alok Vaid-Menon is one of the most renowned young gender non-conforming performance artists, writers, and educators across the world today. Their eclectic sense of style and poetic challenge to the gender binary have been internationally renowned. Alok was recently the youngest recipient of the prestigious Live Works Performance Act Award granted to ten performance artists across the world. They were also featured in the 2016 documentary, The Trans List. They have been featured on HBO, MTV, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker and have presented their creative and political work, specifically spoken word, at over 400 venues in across 40 countries. Learn more about Alok’s work here and follow them on Instagram here.
Pidgeon Pagonis is a non-binary intersex activist, educator, and filmmaker at the forefront of the intersex movement fight for bodily autonomy and justice. Their goal is to deconstruct the dangerous myths that lead to violations of intersex people’s human rights, including common, irreversible medical procedures performed without consent to make bodies conform to binary sex stereotypes. Their writing has been featured in Everyday Feminism and scholarly journals such as Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics and the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity. They were recognized as an Obama Champion of Change in 2015. They continue to raise intersex awareness in Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, CNN, AP, NBC, Washington Post, AL Jazeera, and Huffpost. They are the co-creator of the Intersex Justice Project, an organization dedicated to fighting for intersex people, especially intersex people of color. Learn more about Pidgeon’s work here.
James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a Black gay novelist, playwright, activist, and social critic of the mid-20th-century. His essays explored intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America. Baldwin is celebrated for breaking new literary ground with the exploration of racial and social issues in his many popular works. Though his work was extremely controversial at the time of publication, it also had deeply influential implications for the Civil Rights Movement, and he remains a beloved literary figure. Learn more about James Baldwin here.
Bamby Salcedo is a Trans Latina activist whose work has been recognized and awarded locally and nationally by numerous organizations. Her focus has been dedicating most of her life to Trans rights in the Latinx Community. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and was raised by a single mother. She helped start the #TransLivesMatter National Day of Action along with other community partners in 2014. She currently is the CEO and president of the Translatin@ Coalition which helps trans woman who have immigrated to the United States. Bamby received her MA in Latinx Studies from the California State University Los Angeles. She was also featured in the 2016 documentary, The Trans List. Her work is endless and multifaceted which continues to impact in the community. Learn more about Bamby Salcedo here.
Blair Imani is a Black, Queer, and Muslim author and activist. She is the author of Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History, and the founder and Executive Director of Equality for HER, a nonprofit educational platform for women and nonbinary people. She is also the official ambassador of Muslims for Progressive Values, an organization advocating for human rights, social justice, and inclusion in the United States and around the world. Her work centers around changing perceptions of critical issues globally through storytelling. Learn more about Blair Imani here.
Cecilia Chung is a Chinese trans woman, nationally recognized as an advocate for human rights, social justice, health equity, and LGBTQ equality. Cecilia has been working tirelessly on the local, national and international levels to improve access to treatment for transgender people and people living with HIV, and to erase stigma and discrimination through education, policy, advocacy, and visibility. She was one of the original founders of the Trans March as well as serving on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. She was also the founder of Positively Trans, which seeks to mobilize and promote resilience of trans people most impacted by or living with HIV/AIDS, particularly trans women of color, through research, policy advocacy, legal advocacy, and leadership strengthening. Learn more about Cecilia Chung here.
Chella Man is a queer, transgender, Deaf, Chinese, and Jewish artist based in New York City who works towards advocating for community and self-love. He has gained national attention and praise for his writing, activism, and modeling, growing into one of the most influential queer young adults on social media today. Most recently, he was cast in the Marvel television show Titans, and signed to a major modeling agency. Learn more about Chella Man here and follow his art and activism on Instagram.
Ty Defoe is a two-spirit Ojibwe and Oneida writer, interdisciplinary artist, educator, dancer, and shape-shifter. Ty is also a member of the Two-Spirit Society and Grammy award winner for Best Native American Music Album. In addition to writing book and lyrics on a series of musical theater productions, Defoe recently collaborated with Kate Bornstein on the Broadway show Straight White Men. Learn more about Ty Defoe here.
House of Xtravaganza is one of the most publicly recognized “houses” to emerge from the New York City underground ballroom scene from the 70’s and 80’s, and among the longest continually active. House of Xtravaganza was featured in the highly influential 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning, directed by Jennie Livingston. Their members continue to be recognized for their cultural influence in the areas of dance, music, visual arts, nightlife, fashion, and community activism in New York City and beyond. Learn more about House of Xtravaganza here.
Sally Ride (1951-2012) was a lesbian engineer, physicist, and astronaut. She completed a double major in Physics and English at Stanford University and then joined NASA in 1978. There, she became both the youngest American astronaut and first American woman to travel to space aboard the space shuttle Challenger. After leaving NASA, Ride became the Director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, San Diego, eventually starting her own company to create educational resources and programs known as Sally Ride Science for students, especially girls, to pursue careers in STEM. Learn more about Sally Ride here.
Caster Semenya is a Black queer South African middle-distance runner who is ranked among the fastest women in the world. She is a three-time 800m world champion and Olympic silver and gold medalist. She initially garnered attention at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at eighteen years old, when the international community started challenging her success. Semenyahas been cast into the forefront of international debate around “sex testing” and intersex inclusion in athletics as someone whose body naturally produces higher than average levels of testosterone. Learn more about Caster Semenya here.
Chris Mosier is an American transgender advocate, triathlete, and speaker. In 2015, he earned a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men's team for the 2016 World Championship, making him the first known out trans athlete to join a U.S. national team in his affirmed gender category. He was also the first transgender athlete in the ESPN Body Issue, and first transgender athlete sponsored by Nike. He has mentored trans athletes around the globe, as well as creating gender-inclusive policies at all levels of sports. Learn more about Chris Mosier here.
Patricio “Pat” Manuel (also known as “Cacahuate”) is a mixed-race Black transgender male professional boxer from Long Beach, CA who has shaped his masculine identity in boxing gyms since 2002. Before transitioning publicly, he was a five-time national amateur boxing champion and participated in the first-ever U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing in 2012. In 2015, he became the first visible transgender boxer and the most decorated amateur boxer to change gender divisions within USA Boxing. In 2016, he became the first transgender man to beat a cisgender man in the amateur male division. In September 2018, he made history again when he became the first transgender boxer to compete in a professional boxing match in the U.S. and win.
Kim Coco Iwamoto is a trans and Japanese activist, editorialist, policymaker, advocate, and philanthropist. She has served as the Commissioner of Hawai’i Civil Rights, was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama, and announced she was running to become the first transgender Lieutenant Governor of Hawai’i in 2018. Her campaign is centered around improving access to education, protecting the environment, and housing the homeless. Learn more about Kim Coco and her campaign here.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is an Indigenous Honduran American, Latinx, Jewish transgender rights activist and was the first openly transgender White House staffer. She is celebrated as Director of External Relations at the National Center for Transgender Equality based in Washington, DC. She has also worked at the Massachusetts House of Representatives; LGBT Liaison for the City of Somerville, MA, and has worked with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Sheis currently serving as a Deputy Campaign Director at All On The Line, a project to end gerrymandering and restore fairness in US elections and democracy. Learn more about Raffi Freedman-Gurspan here.
Abby Stein is a trans, Jewish educator, writer, speaker, and activist. She was born and raised in a Hasidic family of rabbinic descent and is the 10th generation of the Baal Shem Tov--founder of Hasidic Judaism. In that portion of her life, Abby attended Yeshiva, completing a rabbinical degree in 2011. In 2012, she left the Hasidic world to explore different views. In 2015 Abby came out as a woman of trans experience. Since then, she has been working to raise support and awareness for trans rights and those leaving Ultra-Orthodoxy. In 2016, she was named by The Jewish Week as one of “36 Under 36” young Jews affecting change. Learn more about Abby Stein through her blog here.
Matthew Vines is the founder and executive director of The Reformation Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to training LGBTQ+ Christians and allies to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Reformation Project has hosted conferences in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. TRP also runs a leadership development cohort for LGBTQ Christians and allies each spring, as well as an event series at non-affirming churches called “Elevating the Dialogue on LGBTQ Inclusion in the Church.” He is also the author of the book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Learn more about Matthew Vines here.
Urooj Arshad is the Director of the International LGBTQ+ Youth Health and Rights Programs at Advocates for Youth and the co-founder of Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, fostering understanding of the intersection between Islam and LGBTQ+ experience. Arshad has a deep passion for tackling all forms of racism, homophobia, and Islamophobia, dedicating her life’s work to creating safe spaces, both for herself and for the next generation of marginalized populations, be they LGBTQ+, Muslim, immigrant, or—like herself—all three. Learn more about Urooj Arshad here.
Hayley Kiyoko is a singer, songwriter, actress, dancer and director. She identifies as a multiracial, white, and Japanese lesbian. Kiyoko knew she was attracted to girls since she was six years old, and came out to her parents in the sixth grade. She released the song “Girls like Girls” in 2015 as a way to share her truth with her fans. Since Kiyoko’s release of Expectations, her debut studio album, Kiyoko has lovingly been referred to by her fans as “Lesbian Jesus.” Kiyoko uses her musical career and professional platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ visibility to encourage her fans to be politically active and to normalize lesbian relationships in the music industry.
Compton’s Cafeteria Riot - Compton’s Cafeteria was a popular nighttime community-gathering place for low-income queer and transgender youth in the 1960s. Situated in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, CA--a low-income sex-work district known for high rates of drug-use and crime—a disproportionate amount of transgender women were barred from living in other parts of the city were forced to live on the streets. In 1966, a spontaneous riot erupted when police targeted queer and trans “street kids” during a raid of Compton’s Cafeteria. This riot, in the late summer of ‘66, notably followed weeks of organized pickets and protests of discrimination at public venues such as Compton’s, led by the earliest known LGBTQ+ youth-led organization, Vanguard. Founded by Adrian Ravarour in 1965, Vanguard described itself as “an organization of, by, and for the kids of the streets.” As told by Susan Stryker in her book, Transgender History, their first major political action was to confront the Compton’s Cafeteria management over the poor treatment of transgender women and street queens. The riot that ensued that summer night marked one of the first recorded collective resistances by LGBTQ+ people against police harassment in the United States, inspiring the infamous Stonewall Riots in New York City three years later. Lean more about the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot here.
Stonewall Riots - The Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, New York was an LGBTQ+ nightclub and safer space for the community in the 1960s, and still is today. The Stonewall Riots occurred when members of the queer community came together to fight against ongoing police harassment and arrests, namely of customers who were breaking a criminal statute that allowed police to apprehend anyone wearing less than three “gender-appropriate” items of clothing. Thus, police officers would commonly arrest trans women, cross-dressers, and drag performers under the pretense of “female impersonation.” On June 28, 1969, patrons, primarily trans women of color, fought back for their rights during a regular police raid, and there erupted the infamous Stonewall Riots. This activism inspired the beginning of what we now know as the LGBTQ+ movement, including the tradition of LGBTQ+ Pride marches. Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and other known Black and Brown trans women are venerated as the godmothers and foundation of this act of protest and the following movement. Learn more about the Stonewall Riots here.
Independence Day Marches - The Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society were two of the most prominent lesbian and gay civil and political rights organizations throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Phyllis Lyon was one of the founding members of the Daughters of Bilitis, a group named for a lesbian character in French poetry. Formed in 1955, it operated as the first official lesbian rights group in the United States. The Mattachine Society, named for a Renaissance-era dance performed by masked, unmarried men, was formed in 1950 by Harry Hay and a collection of his gay friends in Los Angeles to protect and improve the rights of gay men. From the time of their creation through the early 1960’s, both groups utilized methods like holding public forums and circulating publications to garner attention to the issues facing gay and lesbian people. However, group members began to feel these strategies were too passive, and, in 1965, organized the first of the annual Independence Day Marches to protest the exclusion of gays and lesbians from military service and federal employment. These marches paved the way for the Pride marches that we see celebrated across the world today.
The Bisexual Resource Center - Founded as the East Coast Bisexual Network in 1985 and then renamed in 1993, the Bisexual Resource Center is the oldest nationally-focused bi+ organization in the country. Their mission is to create awareness around bisexuality and foster support for bi/pan/fluid people who are misunderstood, marginalized, and discriminated against across the globe. The Bisexual Resource Center creates resources, provides support, and helps to create a stronger sense of community for bi/pan/fluid people. The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) published the Bisexual Resource Guide from 1990 through 2002, a comprehensive listing of inclusive resources and organizations around the globe. They support Bisexual Health Awareness Month every March to motivate the bisexual community to make changes to improve their health and also inspire friends of the bi+ community to play an active role in improving the health of their bisexual friends, family, and community members. Learn more about BRC here.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt - The history of the HIV and AIDS epidemic began in illness, fear, and death as the world faced a new and unknown virus, appearing to predominantly impact gay men in the 1980’s in the United States. However, scientific advances, such as the development of antiretroviral drugs, have since enabled people with access to treatment to live long and healthy lives with HIV. In June of 1987 in San Francisco, artists and organizers wanted to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS to make sure that they would be remembered in history and to help others understand the impact of the disease. To do this, they founded the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, sewn together with over 1,920 memorial panels to commemorate the lives of people who died during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. The Quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in 1987, and has since grown to over 48,000 individual 3-by-6-foot panels—most celebrating the lives of those who have died from AIDS and sewn together by their friends, lovers, and family members.
The Day of Silence is a student-led national event where LGBTQ+ youth and their allies take a vow of silence to highlight the erasure of LGBTQ+ topics in schools. Students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in 1996 as a project on non-violent protests assigned by their professor, Dr. Julian Bond. The first Day of Silence had over 150 students choosing silence to call attention to the needs of LGBTQ+ students on campus. The next year, these organizers took their effort to the national level and nearly 100 colleges and universities across the U.S. participated. In 2001, the organizers asked GLSEN to become the national coordinator of the event and continue this annual silent protest by sharing free organizing resources to student organizers and their schools. Today, millions of students in all fifty states hear the message of Day of Silence each year. To find out more about Day of Silence, click here.
East High Gay Straight Alliance vs. Board of Education of Salt Lake City School District - In 1998, leaders at East High School in the Salt Lake City School District precluded a group of students from forming a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) by banning all non-curricular student groups. However, East High School still allowed groups such as Future Homemakers of America, highlighting the discriminatory nature of the policy. With the help of Lambda Legal, GSA student leaders were able to bring a case to district court. This was the first time the Equal Access Act, passed in 1984 to provide equal access to extracurricular student clubs, was used to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ students, setting legal precedent in support of student organizing. After nearly four years of controversy, East High School agreed to allow the GSA to meet, proving that the Equal Access Act and the First Amendment protect students’ rights to express LGBTQ-positive opinions at school. Find out more information about this important court case here.
The UndocuQueer Movement is an informal yet powerful network of queer undocumented immigrant activists that sprouted from the national mobilization of undocumented young people coming out of the shadows and telling their stories. The undocumented-youth movement was characterized by high profile rallies and storytelling, the first of which was a “National Coming Out of the Shadows” rally in Chicago in 2009, which took inspiration from the 1970s gay liberation movement, led by LGBTQ+ undocumented leaders, and even quoted Harvey Milk. Key leaders in the movement include organizers Tania Unzueta and Prerna Lal, and artist Julio Salgado. Tania Unzueta was one of the founders of the first undocumented/unafraid protests in Chicago and co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League. Today Tania works at Mijente, a national digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing. Prerna Lal is an Indo-Fijian American attorney who pioneered the use of social media as a way to stop deportations, including that of hundreds of undocumented youth. They were one of the co-founders of DreamActivist which mobilized thousands into action to bring the federal DREAM Act up for a vote twice. Julio Salgado produced the “I Exist” collection within the Dreamers Adrift media project in 2010 in support of the DREAM Act, which would have helped young people whose families had immigrated to the United States have residency in the U.S. As a group, undocuqueer activists play a critical role in the immigrant rights’ movement by bringing visibility to the struggles of undocumented LGBTQ+ people and their families while fighting for change.
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 by three radical queer Black organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. Initially in response to the acquittal of the murderer of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black teenager from Florida. Soon they developed the Black Lives Matter Global Network with the goal of supporting “the development of new Black leaders, as well as create a network where Black people feel empowered to determine their destinies in the community.” From the moment of their creation, Black Lives Matter has worked to center the voices of Black queer and trans individuals, highlighting the importance of leadership by those at the margins. Today, Black Lives Matter continues to bring national attention to the crisis of police violence against Black folks. You can learn more about #BlackLivesMatter here.
A lesbian and pioneering woman in the STEM field, Edie Windsor (1929-2017)is celebrated for challenging unequal marriage rights and winning the landmark 2013 case, United States v. Windsor. By challenging the constitutionality of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), Edie paved the way for the 2015 Supreme Court decision that would recognize same-sex couples in all fifty states. She initially sued the United States for denying her the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses after her wife, Thea Spyer, passed away in 2009. The couple married in Canada in 2007 and moved to New York in 2008 where their marriage was formally recognized by the state. Even so, Windsor would have had to pay $363,053 in estate taxes because the definition of “surviving spouses” at the time did not apply to “same-sex spouses.” Windsor sued the United States and, after a long fight, eventually won a victory for same-sex couples and the wider LGBTQ+ movement. Learn more this landmark case here.
Pulse Massacre - On June 12, 2016 fifty people lost their lives, and many more injured, from the anti-LGBTQ+, racist shooting on Latinx night at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. As one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, the Pulse Massacre ignited action from LGBTQ+ people all over the world against gun violence and in solidarity with those affected. This tragedy is the biggest recorded hate crime directed toward LGBTQ+ Black and Brown folks in United States History. Barbara Poma originally opened Pulse nightclub in 2004 to honor her brother, John, a member of the LGBTQ+ community who passed away in 1991. Pulse was an important aspect of the local LGBTQ+ community, providing a loving and accepting space where people could be themselves. In response to this tragedy, LGBTQ+ people and allies responded with support, protests, and candlelit vigils, as well as the creation of #WeAreOrlando on social media.