Originally published on Catalyst.org
What a day to make us feel such pride! We're celebrating the Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation.
Here are the activists who have helped us get here. LGBT people are still not fully equal under the law, but these 10 amazing individuals took great strides to get us a little bit closer.
The woman who once described herself as a "black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet" has been an inspiration to many. She is frequently quoted, especially her famous statement, "Your silence will not protect you." Lorde spoke out against sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ageism, and any other injustice she saw, and tried to encourage others to do the same.
Known by many for his "Savage Love" advice, Dan Savage, with his husband Terry Miller, founded the powerful It Gets Better Project. It Gets Better lets LGBT youth know that life will get better as they get older, and tries to make a better world for future LGBT generations. We haven't yet reached equality, but this positive website shows just how far we've come.
3) Harvey Milk.
(Photo Credit: CasparGirl, "Harvey Milk," 2013.)
Tragically, he was assassinated a year after taking office by a disgruntled former city supervisor. Milk always said, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
"Gay people, we will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets.... We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truth about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I'm going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out."
Known for her role as Sophia Burset on the fan favorite Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox is the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted TV show. She's not just a pretty face on the screen; she's also an amazing activist hard at work producing a documentary, Free CeCe, about a transwoman who was sentenced to 41 months in prison after defending herself in an allegedly racist/transphobic attack. She speaks and writes on transgender equality and gender identity issues.
5) Martina Navratilova.
(Photo Credit: Robbiesaurus, "Martina Navratilova (USA)," 2013.)
A veteran of the Stonewall Riots, Sylvia Rivera fought hard for all LGBT rights, especially the rights of transgender people, as well as those of people of color and low-income queer people. As the gay rights movement became more mainstream, Rivera struggled to keep transgender equality part of the conversation.
Most know him as Mr. Sulu from Star Trek, but he also regularly speaks out on LGBT equality issues. His Facebook and Twitter feeds are fodder for viral LGBT-friendly posts that are sometimes NSFW, but always hilarious. He has said that "Being gay is a natural part of who I am."
Australian-born English gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has been outspoken about gay rights since the late 1960s. While he's worked tirelessly to try to repeal all anti-gay laws in the UK, he also works with LGBT activists in the 76 countries in which sexual acts involving people of the same sex are still illegal. He's also the founder of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, a human rights organization.
Best remembered for organizing the 1963 March on Washington (yep, that one), Bayard Rustin was an amazing civil rights activist who was gay at a very homophobic time. He was arrested several times for "open homosexuality" and civil disobedience, and although he noted in 1986, "I did not 'come out of the closet' voluntarily--circumstances forced me out," he never quit fighting for freedom and justice for all.
10) Lady Gaga.
(Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/iStock)
*Note: Lady Gaga's song "Born This Way" is the first #1 song with lyrics that contain the word "Transgender"
There are so many other activists to thank and remember this Pride Month -- who else is on your list?