Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

With October now here, it begins the month of celebration of LGBTQ+ history. This month and this celebration is important to allow us to reflect on how far we have come in the movement and give thanks to those who have given so much in the fight to allow us to have the beautiful, diverse community we create. Below are some quick facts about names and faces you may not know, but in each of their individual ways, were integral to the fight to make LGBTQ+ voices heard and respected as much as anyone else’s.


Ifti Nasim

  • Gay Pakistani poet

  • Credited with the first gay-themed book of poetry written and published in Urdu, Narman

  • Founded SANGAT/Chicago to support the South Asian LGBTQ community

  • Inducted into Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996


Simon Nkoli


  • Central hero of gay & lesbian struggle in South Africa

  • Founded Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW)

  • Organized the first Pride March in Johannesburg in 1990

  • Helped to convince the African National Congress to formally recognize gay & lesbian rights in South Africa

  • HIV positive, working to destigmatize HIV/AIDS


Nancy Cárdenas


  • Lesbian playwright & director

  • One of first Mexican people to openly come out on television

  • Began fight against gay prejudice in Mexico, fought for equal rights for everyone


Frida Kahlo

  • Openly bisexual artist who depicted taboo topics and honored indigenous Mexican culture

  • Often painted self-portraits to discuss unpopular subjects such as female sexuality, pain, and feminine beauty standards


Bayard Rustin


  • Close friend & advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Organizer of 1963 March on Washington

  • Threatened by opposing parties, worked in the shadows to assist Dr. King in the March on Washington and as a political activist as being gay added to Dr. King’s opposers

  • Fought for the NAACP to acknowledge the AIDS crisis


Josephine Baker

  • Bisexual Jazz Age entertainer

  • One of most successful African-American performers in French history 

  • Advocated for desegregation

  • Served as a spy for the French during WWII


Marsha P. Johnson


  • Black trans woman, sex worker & activist

  • Mother figure for drag queens, trans women and homeless youth of Christopher Street

  • Founded STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera

  • Central figure in gay liberation movement of the 1970s


Sylvia Rivera


  • Queer, Latina self-identified drag queen

  • Fought for transgender & gender-nonconforming rights

  • Said to have thrown the first brick at Stonewall riots

  • Started STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) alongside Marsha P. Johnson

  • Fought against exclusion of transgender individuals in New York’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act


Audre Lorde


  • Self-proclaimed “black lesbian mother warrior poet”

  • Spoke up about civil rights, sexuality & personal stories and struggles with breast cancer

  • New York State Poet Laureate 1991 – 1992 

  • Inspired Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which was the first US publisher by for & about women of color

  • Audre Lorde Award launched in 2001 for outstanding lesbian poetry