Celebrated author and poet James Arthur Baldwin was born at a social intersection of American history. Enlightenment of sorts had taken hold in his native New York, the civil rights movement was beginning to make headway in American society, and the country was reeling from The Great Depression. A born writer and social commentator, Baldwin found social and artistic asylum in Paris, where he could put the racial laws of America behind him and focus on his craft.
It was there that Baldwin penned several pieces of literature that detailed the struggles for self-acceptance gay and bisexual men sought.
Andy Warhol was one of the most eccentric figures on the modern art scene. The revolutionary American artist would immortalize many celebrities in his unique avant-garde pop art styles. Andy Warhol was an unabashedly out gay man throughout his life, long before the gay liberation movements took place.
He introduced many homoerotic themes in his artworks and even found himself being rejected for the pieces being too “explicit.” Warhol did find success with the thematic elements later on in his career as he drew inspiration from the underground counterculture of gay New York.
Actress and daytime television host Laverne Cox has trailblazed a path for transgender people throughout her career. The actress was first featured on the Netflix comedy-drama serial “Orange Is the New Black.” She won over fans and soon became a recurring character.
In addition to her acting, she hosted a daytime television show, “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.” Cox would go on to win an Emmy for her executive producing skills on the highly rated show, a first for a trans woman.
The ill-fated English writer, poet, and novelist Virginia Woolf had an extramarital relationship so life-changing that it inspired an entire novel as she dealt with the question of her sexuality. Virginia Woolf, at the time married to Leonard Woolf, fell in love with Vita Sackville-West, herself a highly acclaimed author.
Their affair would become historical. Woolf pursued many same-sex dalliances throughout her life and was very frank about her pursuits. However, the bond between her and Sackville-West remained unbroken throughout.
Evan Wolfson joined “Lambda,” the gay rights law firm founded by Bill Thom, in 1989. Wolfson held a prestigious and prominent position at the law firm for well over a decade. He specialized in same-sex unions and was instrumental in challenging federal laws discriminating against LGBTQ+ people from receiving the same legal recognition as heterosexual couples.
Wolfson founded “Freedom to Marry,” a bipartisan organization that advanced the fight for equal marriage rights. The organization successfully disbanded once it achieved its goal in 2015 after the United States government federally recognized same-sex marriages.