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Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk served almost eleven months in office, during which he sponsored a bill banning discrimination in public accommodations, housing, and employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The Supervisors passed the bill by a vote of 11–1,
Mark Kendall Bingham (May 22, 1970 – September 11, 2001) was an American public relations executive. During the September 11 attacks, he was a passenger on board United 93. Bingham was among the passengers who formed the plan to retake the plane from the hijackers, and led the effort that resulted in the crash of the plane into a field, thwarting the hijackers' plans. His heroic efforts and athletic physique, were noted for having prompted a reassessment of gay stereotypes.
Audre Lorde (born Audrey Geraldine Lorde; February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," who "dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia."
Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992), was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Johnson was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and co-founded the radical activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries . Johnson was known as the "mayor of Christopher Street". From 1987 -1992, Johnson was an AIDS activist.
Larry Kramer was on the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, trying to bring attention to the disease gay men were facing around the country. In 1981, he created the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization, which was the only group devoted to helping those affected by HIV/AIDS. He later created Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), which was an organization that held high-profile demonstrations. In the '80s, he wrote the play "The Normal Heart," which chronicled his experience in AIDS activism.
Elliot Page is a movie star that came out as transgender. Since then, Page sat down with Oprah for an interview to explain his journey. "It felt important and selfish for myself and my own wellbeing and my mental health. And also with this platform I have, the privilege that I have, and knowing the pain and the difficulties and the struggles I've faced in my life, let alone what so many other people are facing, it absolutely felt crucial and important for me to share that."
Sylvia Rivera was a Latina-American drag queen who became one of the most radical gay and transgender activists of the 1960s and 70s. As co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front, Rivera was known for participating in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and establishing the political organization STAR with friend Marsha P. Johnson. In honor of Rivera's activism, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) was founded in 2002 — the same year of her death.
Before the Stonewall riots, Barbara Gittings was on the frontlines, attempting to normalize homosexuality. She joined the Daughters of Bilitis, the first organization that focused on lesbian rights, and started its New York chapter. Gittings began editing the Ladder, a magazine by and for lesbian women. Beyond that, the activist was important in reversing the American Psychiatric Association's belief that homosexuality was a mental illness.
Rustin never hid his homosexuality while fighting alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement. His unapologetic openness pushed him to work mostly behind the scenes of the movement. He later urged New York City mayor Ed Koch to work on a gay rights bill before his death in 1987. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by President Obama in 2013.