A Few Prominent GLBT People in History
(sources: Lambda Legal; Equality Forum; Aaron Bachofer, Ph.D. doctoral research; PFLAG National; Paul Thompson obituary; Eric Alva post, Human Rights Campaign Backstory; Human Rights Campaign)
Jane Addams: founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889 to provide shelter and support for poor and homeless people.
U.S. Marine TSgt. Eric Alva: the first United States servicemember to have been seriously wounded in the Iraq war, 2003. Eric lost a leg to a land mine. In true Marine Corps tradition, his fellow Marines immediately came to his aid, protected him from further injury, and brought him to safety. According to Eric, everyone in his unit was aware of his sexual orientation and they accepted him as an important member ofthe unit. Eric is now retired from military service and travels widely, speaking on behalf of the thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers who still serve honorably to protect the rights that we all hold dear, in spite of the threat of being discharged from our military because of their sexual orientation.
Bayard Rustin: an African-American civil rights activist who instructed Martin Luther King, Jr. in techniques of peaceful civil disobedience. Rustin organized Dr. King's 1963 March on Washington (I have a Dream.)
Tom Waddell, M.D.: Dr. Waddell was also a United States Army paratrooper and an Olympic Decathlete. His professional career was dedicated to HIV/AIDS research and to operating hospices for victims of AIDS.
George Washington Carver: 19th and 20th century scientist credited with revolutionizing the southern agricultural economy by developing many products from one crop, particularly the peanut.
Leonard Bernstein: 20th Century Conductor of the New York Philharmonic for many years,composer, brought millions of people the gift of the world's most beautiful music.
Matthew Shepard: a 21 year old student in Wyoming, the target of a hate crime motivated by homophobia, beaten severely and left to die tied to a fence in rural Wyoming. Matthew died from his injuries several days later and became the inspiration for the recently enacted "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention act of 2009" which provides federal protection for GLBT individuals against whom crimes have been carried out based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Paul Thompson: Oklahoma City man whose life was dedicated to peace and justice. Paul served on the NAACP Board, the Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, and helped found the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.