A name that hardly needs any introduction, Freddie Mercury’s tenor has continued to reverberate thirty years after his passing at the age of forty-five. The lead singer of “Queen,” although one of the world’s most recognizable personas, was notoriously private and never publicly acknowledged his sexuality.
It is known that Freddie Mercury had a long-term relationship with a woman, Mary Austin, and would go on to have relationships with men after her. Fellow bandmate Brian May revealed in an interview it was obvious when Mercury’s dressing room visitors changed from “hot women” to “hot men”!
Dana International became an instant icon when she won 1998's Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Diva.” Dana was born in Tel Aviv as the youngest of three children. As a young child, there were two things she already knew — that she felt like a woman and that she desperately wanted to become a singer. Her family was poor but supportive; her mom made sure they spent every extra penny paying for Dana's music lessons.
One of the truly amazing facts about Dana is that she came out at age 13, which is an early age even today. Back then, the year was 1982, and people were not as aware as they are today. She has managed to find commercial success in Israel.
German sexologist and doctor Magnus Hirschfield may have established the first scientifically backed organization that supported gay and transgender rights and helped vindicate the LGBTQIA+ from accusations of mental health diseases. The Nazi party revoked the eminent doctor of his German citizenship for his efforts.
Hirschfield penned "The Homosexuality of Men and Women" in 1914 and detailed how homosexuality is natural and omnipresent in almost all cultures globally. Hirschfield found increasing persecution under the emerging Nazi regime and fled to France, where he passed away two years later.
American screenwriter, playwright, and novelist Larry Kramer took it upon himself to publicize the AIDS crisis that was sweeping across the United States throughout the eighties. The vehement activist, a gay man himself, stated that he grew increasingly incensed at the “bureaucratic paralysis” that was preventing a national health intervention from the government.
Kramer believed there was an unconcern toward gay men, and the Department of Health was merely ignoring the pandemic. In response, Kramer founded “Gay Men's Health Crisis,” a network that assisted people living with HIV. Kramer’s efforts are acknowledged as the government's attitude towards the crisis is changing.
Danish artist Lili Elbe made history as one of the earliest surgically transitioned women. Lili Elbe spent her early years as Einar Magnus Wegener and established herself as a prominent painter under this name. Elbe would, however, dress as a woman for specific events and introduce herself as the sister of Einar.
Gender reassignment surgery, although highly radical and far from perfect at the time, was an option, and Elbe underwent the transition over a two-year period. Tragedy struck when an infection set in after Elbe had a uterus implanted. The young Elbe passed from septic shock at the age of 48.