American author Dan Savage has been a driving force in the LGBTQ+ community. Savage has held a long-running website where he writes on the topic of sexuality. Along with his husband, Terry Miller, Savage founded the “It Gets Better Project” in 2015 following the tragic passing of Billy Lucas, a fifteen-year-old teenager who took his own life after severe antigay bullying.
The project has LGBTQ+ adults submit video testimonials of how even though they were victims of discrimination and bullying, their lives eventually did get better.
Audre Lorde described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” The poet and non-fiction author combined her career with civil rights issues and wrote extensively on the injustices that plagued American society when she was growing up.
Lorde’s poetry and writing are credited with helping bridge the intersectionality of gay rights, racism, classism, and feminism. Lorde advanced “womanism” and developed the philosophy that another branch of thought and activism was needed to encompass the Black lesbian experience separate from mainstream feminism.
Before Mark Ashton’s young life was tragically cut short at the age of twenty-six, the passionate activist changed LGBT+ history in his native United Kingdom by allying with another marginalized group: miners. While the alliance may initially sound surprising, it developed a united front for civil rights.
Miners had embarked on a strike, and the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher at the time, sequestered all donations for the protesting union. Mark Ashton formed the “Lesbians and Gays Support Miners” foundation that would go on to fundraise almost £100,000 in donations for the National Union of Mineworkers.
Retired American politician Barney Frank made the most of his career in politics by effecting sweeping reforms within federal policies across the United States. Frank, who publically acknowledged that he was a gay man in 1987, helped legislation in the “1990 Immigration Act” that ensured immigrants could not be disqualified for legal status based on their sexuality.
Frank was one of three openly gay Members of Congress, alongside Jarrod Polis and Tammy Baldwin. The LGBTQ+ publication “Out” awarded the politician top spot in its “Annual Power 50 List” in 2009.
The American writer Gore Vidal produced a lifetime of work that dealt with many social topics, notably that of sexuality within mainstream American society. The prolific writer, who was openly bisexual, held a curious stance on the issue of gay rights that began surfacing as popular opinion in the 1960s.
Vidal maintained that the label “gay” had no meaning as it related only to acts within a relationship rather than the individual’s sexuality. Vidal wrote that "homosexuality is a constant fact of the human condition, and it is not a sickness, not a sin, not a crime.”