σύμφωνα με το περιοδικό Advocate τχ 25/9/2007. Ακολουθεί στα αγγλικά το άρθρο:
When we asked you to sift through a list of 100 notable politicians, artists, activists, and thinkers to choose 40 of your favorite gay heroes, we knew it wouldn't be easy. Our criteria: A hero had to be entirely out. And more than just being supremely talented or superbly competent, he or she had to have contributed significantly to our LGBT lives. Yet, even with the limits, picking just 40 hardly seemed possible. Bravo, Advocate readers. Here are your best and brightest…
1 Ellen DeGeneres
Yep, she's your #1 hero. Ten years after she outed herself-and her sitcom character-Ellen DeGeneres is on top of the world. She's happily partnered. She's wealthy. She's hosted the Oscars. And five days a week, she shows millions of straight TV fans that being gay is no big deal. What other LGBT figure of the past 40 years-has made a more spectacular mark on the world?
But that certainly isn't the only reason Advocate readers voted her our biggest hero of the past 40 years. DeGeneres also exemplifies the classic hero's journey of mythology--a call to adventure, followed by a road of trials, and then a triumphant return to ordinary life. We love tales of people who take big risks, go through hard times, then brush themselves off and emerge better and brighter than ever. And that's Ellen for you.
In 1997, at age 39, she just couldn't breathe in the closet anymore, so she took a big gulp of fresh air and acknowledged what everyone already suspected: She likes girls. Television stars just didn't admit such things then. As newly out T.R. Knight said when he was a guest on Ellen's show a decade later, "It just made all the difference… It meant so much." She was a pioneer, and pioneers make things a little less scary for everyone following in their paths.
Ellen's own path turned rocky after the brilliant "Puppy Episode," in which her TV character Ellen Morgan came out. Before long Ellen was canceled, her relationship with mercurial Anne Heche ended in a blaze of weirdness, and her next sitcom, The Ellen Show, flopped. Ellen herself tells The Advocate that she went through a period of being "upset and torn and bitter," feeling that she'd "lost everything."
But like the mythical phoenix, she rose from the ashes. She earned kudos for tastefully hosting the Emmy Awards right after 9/11. Then a little movie called Finding Nemo reminded the world how gifted she really is. In 2003, when DeGeneres launched her talkfest--officially titled The Ellen DeGeneres Show but, like every other show she's been involved with, known simply as Ellen--an essential truth emerged: People didn't want Ellen to be somebody else. They loved her. Nine Emmys later, they still do.
Some of us might complain that Ellen doesn't play up gayness more on her talk show, but maybe we're just impossible to please. After all, some of us complained that Ellen became too gay. Fact is, the Ellen of 2007 doesn't hide who she is: She's very open about her relationship with Portia de Rossi, she still dresses in dyke-next-door chic, and she represents for the community. "I think I represent honesty," Ellen says, "and I'm proud to represent that."
Ellen took the risk; Ellen took the heat. And now her daily unapologetic presence as a lesbian on TV normalizes gayness for Middle America--a huge feat.
"I'm sure there were those who weren't so famous who did a lot of great work," she says of the gay heroes of the past 40 years. "So I really am touched. It's a huge compliment."
2 Barney Frank
Barney Frank has spent more than 25 years in Congress, and he shows no signs of slowing down. After coming out publicly in 1987, Frank has been reelected by the fourth district of Massachusetts in every term since. "I think by being honest about who we are--coming out to friends, relatives, teammates, customers, students, teachers--we have helped America understand a major fact: Most Americans were not homophobic but thought they were supposed to be," he explained to The Advocate in 2004.
Frank is at the forefront of gay issues in the House of Representatives (he consistently receives a perfect 100 score from the Human Rights Campaign), where he continues to advance the position of LGBT people everywhere. "By now we not only have millions of openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, we also have tens of millions of relatives and friends of gay people," he said during an interview in 2000. "When someone comes out to his or her parents, the parents may not in every case be ready to become a gay rights supporter. But they sure as hell don't want some politician calling their kid an asshole."
3 Harvey Milk
Though an assassin cut his life short, Harvey Milk packed 48 years with enough accomplishments to last many lifetimes. Born in Woodmere, N.Y., in 1930, Milk joined the Navy during the Korean War, worked on Wall Street during the 1960s, and eventually became involved with two iconic Broadway shows: Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair. He settled in San Francisco permanently in 1972. And Milk's potent combination of charm and grassroots activism won him the nickname "the Mayor of Castro Street."
After two failed attempts, Milk was elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors in 1977, making him the first openly gay man to win public office in a major U.S. city. But Milk served only 11 months in office before vengeful former supervisor Dan White gunned down him and Mayor George Moscone.
"There was a bullet hole through Harvey," Dianne Feinstein told The Advocate in 1998, describing her discovery of the scene. "I put my finger on his wrist to try to get a pulse. I knew he was dead. It was a terrible, terrible moment." Though today, his story continues to touch people worldwide. Says Feinstein: "His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed people wear. He believed that no sacrifice was too great a price to pay for the cause of human rights."
4 Matthew Shepard
What was it about Matthew Shepard's 1998 slaying that galvanized an entire nation? Even Shepard's mother, Judy, couldn't put her finger on it when she spoke to us the following year. "There have been so many other people who have been attacked and killed, and for some reason, this time everything came together and took everybody's attention," she said. "He was just a kid who liked everything. He wasn't different from anybody. And I think it was just so easily identifiable for everyone, gays and straights alike."
Perhaps that's why, after Shepard was savagely beaten and left to die in a remote spot outside Laramie, Wyo., he became a cultural touchstone in the long battle for gay equality. The death of this unassuming college student made the cover of Time magazine and the front page of The New York Times, inspired countless artistic responses (including the acclaimed play The Laramie Project), and renewed attention on national hate-crime laws. Speaking at the trial of his son's killers, Shepard's father, Dennis, acknowledged that impact: "My son Matthew paid a terrible price to open the eyes of all of us who live in Wyoming, the United States, and the world to the unjust and unnecessary fears, discrimination, and intolerance that members of the gay community face every day."
5 Melissa Etheridge
"I'm sort of a gay success story, a very inspirational one," Melissa Etheridge said in 1996, shortly after being named The Advocate's 1995 Person of the Year. "What happened to me is exactly the opposite of what closeted people fear: They think they'll lose everything if they come out. This did not happen to me at all. In fact, everything came back tenfold."
Tenfold might be conservative when you consider that this Grammy-winning rocker famously came out as a lesbian during President Bill Clinton's inaugural ball, then went on to see two subsequent albums (Yes I Am and Your Little Secret) hit multiplatinum highs. And when then-partner Julie Cypher gave birth to two children in the late 1990s, Etheridge became perhaps the world's most visible lesbian parent, appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone with her extended family.
Even through tough times, Etheridge has proved an inspiration. After struggling with breast cancer in 2004, Etheridge showed up bald from chemotherapy at the Grammy Awards and belted out a defiant rendition of "Piece of My Heart." And though Cypher and Etheridge eventually split, the singer went on to exchange vows with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, who added twins to their famous family last year. She may have started as our little secret; now she's anything but.
6 Billie Jean King
Legends don't come swifter--or more decorated--than tennis player Billie Jean King. The winner of 20 Wimbledon titles and 39 Grand Slam titles, including 13 U.S. Open wins, she may be most remembered for one game in particular: her 1973 win against Bobby Riggs in a televised "Battle of the Sexes." The victory inspired women everywhere, but then King had always been a trailblazing feminist; she helped to organize both the Virginia Slims Tour--the first pro tennis tour for women--and the Women's Tennis Association, where she was the president from 1973 to 1975 and 1980 to 1981.
While those accomplishments took a lot of planning, King's coming-out was definitely not by design. She was pushed out when her ex-lover, Marilyn Barnett, filed a palimony suit against the then-married tennis champion in 1981. While King acknowledged the affair and eventually divorced her husband, she wouldn't publicly come out as a lesbian for 17 more years. "Each person's circumstances are unique, so I think it's impossible to judge whether another person should come out," she told The Advocate in 1998. "You just hope they will on their own time and their own terms. And, hopefully, we'll make the world a safer place so young people will feel safe to deal with their sexuality and whatever else."
7 Harvey Fierstein
Harvey Fierstein is made of things inimitable (that distinctive gravelly voice), incredible (his award-winning plays and performances), and indisputable (his contribution to gay culture). Fierstein first won popular acclaim in 1983 for writing and starring in his play Torch Song Trilogy. The play won two Tonys, for Best Play and Best Actor, and in 1988 was adapted into a film.
Torch Song was just one of three productions that would garner Tony awards for Fierstein. The actor, who had appeared in New York City drag shows in the early 1970s, channeled that energy into his book for La Cage aux Folles (1983) and his full-figured performance as housewife Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray (2002). Other works include countless film roles and a Humanitas Prize for his book-turned-HBO special, The Sissy Duckling. However, his most significant role may be his tireless support of LGBT causes, both through activism and performance.
In 2004, we talked to Fierstein about his writing, which some gay critics find overly conventional. "Edmund White wrote a piece attacking me--you know, 'This is not what gay people are like,'" said Fierstein. "I could've sworn that the idea of being gay is the idea of having all the choices. The idea of living your life to the fullest is that I can say 'I want this' or 'I want that.'"
8 Elton John
Elton John is the sort of massive pop icon who doesn't need a last name--after all, that first name says so much. It suggests a playful attitude, a pair of kooky glasses, or a sequin-studded jacket. It instantly conjures one of his more than 50 Top 40 hits. For gay audiences, though, Elton is arguably the most famous gay man in the world.
After coming out as bisexual in a 1976 interview in Rolling Stone, John weathered drugs, drink, and a short-lived marriage to Renate Blauel in 1984. Throughout, John continued to bring gay-related issues to a national audience. His highly visible friendship with Ryan White, the teenager who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, attracted headlines. Two years after White's death in 1990, John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for AIDS research.
In 2005, John wed longtime companion David Furnish in star-studded media event.
Though John sometimes clashes with the gay community (remember when he performed a duet with Eminem at the 2001 Grammy Awards?), he's earned his title as a gay elder statesman. Is there anything left for Elton to do? Perhaps--after all, he's the only living person in our Top 10 list who has yet to sit down for an interview with The Advocate.
9 Margarethe Cammermeyer
"Why should we be good enough to be cannon fodder but not good enough to serve at home?" That's the question Margarethe Cammermeyer put to The Advocate in 2001, and few are better qualified to ask. Twelve years earlier, as a colonel in the Washington State National Guard, she became the highest-ranking official in the U.S. military to come out of the closet while still in service. The result was an honorable discharge, a decision Cammermeyer fought until a federal judge ruled that the ban on gays and lesbians in the military was unconstitutional and reinstated her.
Now retired, Cammermeyer--whose case was immortalized in the TV-movie Serving in Silence, starring Glenn Close--continues to speak out against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which became a formal policy after her own discharge. "Imagine if every gay military person said, 'If I can't be open, I'm out of here--send the straight people to war, and I'll stay home and go to gay pride parades,'" she said to us in that 2001 interview. "Now is a good time to leave the military--the very time we are needed most. The impact would be phenomenal. Maybe then we'd get rid of this stupid, half-assed law."
10 Rosie O'Donnell
It seems hard to believe in the wake of this past year, but when Rosie O'Donnell came out of the closet in 2002, many critics sniped that it was too little, too late. "There were many people who said to me, 'Famous or not, why don't you come out?' and I always said, "I'm out enough,' because I never pretended to have a boyfriend," she told us in 2003, after being named our Person of the Year. "My crush on Tom Cruise is real--I never said I wanted to have sex with him. It stunned me when, after the Diane Sawyer interview, they did a focus group and it said 60% of people didn't know."
If they didn't then, they do now. O'Donnell came out during the last two months of her megahit chat show, but she was out from the start on The View, the daytime talker that added her to its cast in 2006. Her outspoken nature gave the show a ratings boost and a huge dose of water-cooler buzz, but it also provided Americans with a lesbian parent whose constant visibility worked wonders. O'Donnell left the show in May 2007, and speculation about her next major move continues; in the meantime, she updates her headline-making blog regularly and continues her work with R Family Vacations, her travel company aimed at gays and lesbians.
Whatever O'Donnell does next, it'll be just another part of her personal evolution.
11 Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova holds literally hundreds of titles in women's tennis, so it's only fitting that this remarkable athlete would be a pioneer in all aspects of her life, including gay rights. When the Czech-born Navratilova became a U.S. citizen in 1981, she called herself bisexual; in 1991 she came out as a lesbian following a palimony suit by ex-lover Judy Nelson. Navratilova has since proved an invaluable ally to LGBT causes, filing suit against an antigay Colorado amendment in 1992, speaking the following year at the Washington, D.C., March for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Rights, and continuing to support numerous gay organizations.
12 Troy Perry
For the millions of people who struggle to reconcile their religion with their sexuality, Troy Perry is a godsend. In October 1968, Perry founded the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination for LGBT Christians, in his Huntington Park, Calif., apartment. The MCC took off from a gathering of 12 in Perry's living room to become one of the world's fastest-growing denominations, with over 200 churches in 20 countries. Perry has also been a notable activist on other issues important to gays, including AIDS and same-sex marriage. He helped organize two separate marches on Washington and met with White House officials during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
13 Greg Louganis
Long odds mean little to an athlete like Greg Louganis. A four-time Olympics gold medalist, a six-time world diving champion, and a holder of 47 national championship titles, Louganis in 1988 became the first diver to win double gold medals for diving events in consecutive Olympic games--despite a head injury during a preliminary dive. Still, that amazing feat seemed child's play after Louganis came out as gay in 1994 and the following year disclosed to Barbara Waiters on national TV that he was HIV-positive. Though he lost many endorsements in the media firestorm that followed, Louganis became an activist, penning an autobiography titled Breaking the Surface and speaking out about his experience with HIV in lectures around the world.
14 Mel White
Though he once wrote speeches for leaders of the religious right, Mel White had a higher calling. In 1993 he came out when he was installed as dean of the Dallas Cathedral of Hope, a congregation that claims to be the world's largest gay church. The following year White published the autobiography Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America. He and his life partner, Gary Nixon, went on to found Soulforce, an organization specifically committed to ending religious-based bigotry against LGBT people. Soulforce's efforts include nonviolent protests and a cross-country bus caravan called the Equality Ride to educate Americans about gay rights.
15 V. Gene Robinson
It wasn't easy for V. Gene Robinson to become the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, but then, nothing in this man's life has been simple. Born in a difficult delivery in 1947, he was not expected to live more than a few days. However, Robinson flourished, later marrying and pursuing a career as a clergyman. When he realized he could no longer suppress his homosexuality, he divorced his wife but continued to work as an out priest in New England. His nomination for bishop of New Hampshire was controversial, bringing him scrutiny and even death threats, but he won all the necessary votes in 2003, breaking new ground for his denomination.
16 Ian McKellen
He's as comfortable in a blockbuster movie as he is in a Shakespeare play, but Ian McKellen's most important role may be his most personal: that of a highly successful, openly gay actor. McKellen first gained notice onstage, garnering acclaim and awards for his theater performances, then made the transition to Hollywood in high style with roles in such films as Gods and Monsters, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the X-Men series. His career flourished after he came out publicly in 1988, and he has called on more of his colleagues to do so. He has also taken an active role in promoting gay, rights by cofounding. the U.K. lobbying group Stonewall.
17 Betty Berzon
Betty Berzon's troubles became her salvation. Her struggle to accept her sexuality led her to attempt suicide as a young woman, but during her recovery doctors recognized Berzon's gifts and encouraged her to become a psychotherapist. After she came out as one of the first openly gay therapists, she helped found the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center in 1971 and organized the first gay group within the American Psychiatric Association, which declassified homosexuality as an illness in 1973. Her books, including Positively Gay and Permanent Partners, were pioneering guides to help LGBT people live the sort of healthy, happy, out life than Berzon herself eventually achieved.
18 Larry Kramer
A list of gay heroes would be nothing without Larry Kramer, whose commitment to LGBT rights is vast and varied. Determined to educate the world about AIDS in the face of the slow-moving Reagan administration, the HIV-positive Kramer founded both Gay Men's Health Crisis and the protest organization ACT UP. As a writer, Kramer was equally influential; his book Faggots was an important publishing breakthrough, and his plays The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me were pivotal explorations of the AIDS crisis (the latter earning Kramer a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize).
19 k.d. lang
Blessed with a luscious voice that has won her a slew of Grammys, k.d. lang is a Canadian chanteuse and lesbian icon. After coming out in The Advocate, lang lent her voice to a host of LGBT causes, but her activism doesn't stop there--she is also a notable advocate of animal rights. Playful about her androgynous appearance, she told us in that historic 1992 interview, "It's just my natural response to how I fit in society--how I feel comfortable, how I feel confident. If I had to wear high heels and a dress, I would be a mental case."
20 Rita Mae Brown
If you name an important gay landmark from the last 40 years, Rita Mae Brown may well have been there. A committed activist during the 1960s, Brown participated in the Stonewall riots and later pushed the National Organization for Women to recognize its lesbian members. In 1971, after leaving NOW, she co-founded the Furies Collective, a group devoted to lesbian separatism. Noted for her romantic relationships with icons like Martina Navratilova and Fannie Flagg, Brown first found fame with the classic lesbian novel Rubyfruit Jungle and went on to author many other works. Most recently, the Virginia resident has channeled her passion for fox-hunting into a successful series of mysteries.
21 Mark Bingham
The dark day of September 11, 2001, created a beloved gay hero: Mark Bingham, thought to be one of the passengers who interfered with the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, bringing the plane clown before it hit its intended target. Tall and solid, this out rugby player used his final moments on the hijacked plane to call his mother and is believed to have then joined his fellow passengers in storming the plane's cockpit. Though everyone on the plane died when it crashed in a Pennsylvania field, Bingham's actions made him a hero on a day when we desperately needed them.
22 Armistead Maupin
Mouse Tolliver and Anna Madrigal aren't real people, but you'd be forgiven for thinking of them as close friends. Many of us fell in love with these characters when author Armistead Maupin introduced them in a Bay Area newspaper serial; he eventually spun off his creation into a series of books beginning with 1978's Tales of the City. Later turned into three separate television miniseries, the Tales books took an uninhibited look into decades of life in bohemian San Francisco, receiving acclaim for presenting LGBT characters in a way few authors had: as we really are.
23 Harry Hay
As a cofounder of the Mattachine Society in 1950, Harry Hay helped organize one of the earliest gay liberation groups in the United States. Only a handful attended that first meeting, but by 1953 membership numbered several thousand. While Hay eventually distanced himself from the Mattachines, he remained involved with many gay and Native American causes, eventually synthesizing both influences when he and his lover, John Burnside, launched the Radical Faeries in 1979.
24 Tammy Baldwin
Although several members of Congress have come out while in office, Tammy Baldwin was the first to win her freshman term as an openly gay candidate. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin's second district in 1998, she is a strong advocate of many liberal causes, and health care reform is one her top priorities. She voted against the invasion of Iraq and is a prominent supporter of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and federal hate-crimes legislation.
25 Tony Kushner
Fiercely intellectual and daring, Tony Kushner is best known for writing Angels in America, the two-part play that earned him the Pulitzer Prize. Tackling AIDS, homosexuality, and Roy Cohn with equal fervor, the play was a watershed event that won back-to-back Tony awards for both its parts (Millennium Approaches and Perestroike) and was later made into an acclaimed miniseries for HBO. Recent works by Kushner include the play Homebody/Kabul, his book for the musical Caroline, or Change, and the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's Munich, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination.
26 Pedro Zamora
Before MTV's The Real World became increasingly irrelevant, it was a pioneer in introducing young gays and lesbians to a national audience--among them 22-year-old Pedro Zamora. The HIV-positive AIDS educator was a member of the reality show's cast in its third season and became a profound influence by putting a human face on a terrible disease. When Zamora died November 11, 1994--one day after the final episode of his season aired--President Clinton paid tribute: "Pedro has become a member of every family. Now no one can say that they don't know someone with AIDS."
27 Malcolm Boyd
The rare Hollywood player to leave show business for the religious life, onetime film and TV producer Malcolm Boyd became rarer still in 1977, when he became the first prominent clergyman to come out as gay in a mainstream Christian denomination (in his case, the Episcopal Church). Boyd had already picked up a reputation as the "Espresso Priest" for organizing poetry nights to reach out to disaffected youths, and his shaggy beard and unconventional techniques stirred traditionalists in the church to denounce him. He continued to defy expectations with his trailblazing work as an out clergyman, a life that has led him to author over 25 gay-affirming books.
28 Cleve Jones
Mentored by Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones is the gay activist who created the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. He conceived of the project during a 1985 memorial march for Milk, asking participants to write down the names of their fallen friends and paste the cards to the wall of San Francisco's federal building. From that humble beginning, Jones developed a quilt in which each panel would pay tribute to a person who had died of AIDS complications; the result had grown to over 45,000 panels by the last time it was displayed in full in 1996.
29 John Waters
Dubbed the "Pope of Trash" by William Burroughs, this Baltimore-bred filmmaker gained fame for venturing into the far realms of bad taste. His muse, the transvestite Divine, famously ate real dog feces in the dénouement to Pink Flamingos, and even his most recent film, A Dirty Shame, garnered the seldom-seen NC-17 rating. Still, despite his reputation, most of Waters's films are leavened by a soupçn of sweetness. His most mainstream film, Hairspray, found massive success after being turned into a Broadway musical, and even if Waters didn't direct the subsequent movie adaptation, he did put his inimitable stamp on it--by appearing in the film as a flasher.
30 Indigo Girls
It's hard to find a band that's closer to fine than this folk duo, consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. Their soulful harmonies won them a Grammy in 1989, and their involvement with Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair tour pushed the Indigo Girls to even greater mainstream heights. Out for the bulk of their careers, both Ray and Saliers have remained committed to activism-especially LGBT rights. The Indigo Girls hit the road most recently as a part of the True Colors tour.
31 Randy Shilts
Hired to work at The Advocate in 1975, Randy Shilts soon became the nation's leading gay journalist. His stint at the San Francisco Chronicle made him the first openly gay reporter to work a gay beat in the mainstream U.S. press. In 1982 he received acclaim for his best-selling Harvey Milk biography, The Mayor of Castro Street, and his 1987 AIDS chronicle, And the Band Played On, brought him international attention and was later made into an Emmy-winning film for HBO. Shilts's last book (he died of an AIDS-related illness in 1994 at age 42) was no less important; titled Conduct Unbecoming, it probed the already controversial subject of gays in the military.
32 Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
In 2004, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in the United States, underscoring two lifetimes of gay activism. The women have been together since the 1950s, when they helped to found the Daughters of Bilitis, the earliest major lesbian group in the United States. In 1972 they published the pivotal book Lesbian/Woman, which chronicled the history of the movement. In 1999 both women received Women of Courage Awards from the National Organization for Women, with which they have a long history, and they have been active in Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, a national network of activist lesbians over 60.
33 Elizabeth Birch
The late 1990s were a time of significant progress for LGBT Americans, and Elizabeth Birch was among those at the forefront. As head of the Human Rights Campaign from 1995 to 2004, she oversaw a huge leap in visibility for the organization that included a new (and now familiar) logo, a historic visit from Bill Clinton (then the first president to speak in public before an LGBT rights group), and a speech from Birch at the 2000 Democratic National Convention that marked the first time the leader of an LGBT organization had been granted such an honor.
34 Bayard Rustin
Few civil rights leaders have had the influence of Bayard Rustin. The African-American activist already had an impressive activist résumé when he became an associate of Martin Luther King Jr. in the mid 1950s. Rustin influenced King's use of nonviolent resistance, and the two worked together until just before the 1960 Democratic National Convention, when New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. threatened to publicly denounce Rustin's homosexuality. Rustin resigned from King's staff but returned to organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
35 Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde could be described as many things, though she famously liked to call herself "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." As other activists struggled to advance the causes of just one of these populations, Lorde spoke on behalf of all of them. Born in 1934 in New York City, she went on to become one of the most notable writers of her generation, publishing alongside Langston Hughes and collecting her initial works in the book The First Cities. Later works of Lorde's, such as Zemi: A New Spelling of My Name, were even more groundbreaking in their overt lesbian imagery. Books like Zemi led Lorde to come up with a new genre: "biomythography"--a mixture of biography, mythology, and history.
36 Leonard Matlovich
When the American Civil Liberties Union needed a test case to challenge the ban on gays in the military, it found what it needed in Leonard Matlovich. A decorated Vietnam vet who had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Matlovich was discharged after coming out publicly; his battle for reinstatement drew nationwide attention and landed Matlovich on the cover of Time in 1975. He won an honorable discharge and settlement in 1980. Matlovich died of AIDS complications just eight years later, and the inscription on his tombstone is a reminder of his legacy: "When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men, and a discharge for loving one."
37 Tim Gill
Tim Gill knows firsthand that a little bit of money can generate big dividends. After cofounding the computer software company Quark with a $2,000 loan, Gill steered the company into lucrative waters and became one of the richest people in the United States. Newly politicized after voters in his home state of Colorado enacted the antigay Amendment 2 in 1992, he invested a million dollars to create the Gill Foundation for gay civil rights two years later. Now worth of hundreds of millions, the Gill Foundation is the country's largest private foundation dedicated to LGBT rights and equal opportunity.
38 John Amaechi
The first NBA player to come out publicly, John Amaechi is someone to look up to--and since he's 6 foot 10, you have to look pretty high. His book Man in the Middle details his struggle to lead a gay life in a notoriously homophobic sport, and though he came out only after retiring from the Utah Jazz, he has since become a prominent gay activist, partnering with the Human Rights Campaign to serve as spokesman for its Coming Out Project.
39 Roberta Achtenberg
In 1993, President Bill Clinton invited Roberta Achtenberg to become the assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Achtenberg had been a committed and influential Democrat for years, but her confirmation by the Senate was a tough process due to Achtenberg's status as an out lesbian. Conservative senators hammered at her (Jesse Helms infamously referred to her as "that damn lesbian"), and Achtenberg took much flak for an earlier decision to deny funds to the Boy Scouts due to antigay discrimination. But the Senate eventually voted to confirm her, making Achtenberg the first openly gay person to be confirmed by that body for a major political post.
40 Barbara Gittings
Barbara Gittings would appear in any book about pivotal LGBT activists, and thanks to her, you're able to check that book out at the library. As head of the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association, she increased the availability of LGBT books in the nation's libraries, which earned her an honorary ALA membership in 2003. Years earlier, Gittings founded the East Coast chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the early lesbian organization whose national magazine, The Ladder, she edited in the 1960s. She was also one of several activists who successfully lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.