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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

GLBT History Month

In the 1990’s, teachers and community organizations determined that a month should be designated for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history. They chose October because public schools are in session and traditions, such as National Coming Out Day, occur in the same month.

GLBT History Month celebrates and highlights the achievements of GLBT people, with a special focus on one person each day. The 31 Icons, living or dead, are selected for their achievements in their field of endeavor, their status as a national hero, or their significant contribution to GLBT civil rights. Equality Forum solicits nominations from state, national and international organizations and leaders.

Here are this years 31 Icons and their achievements. (For videos, bios, bibliography, images and other resources on these Icons, visit

  1. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon - Gay rights advocates and longtime partners. Martin and Lyon were legally married in California just months before Martin passed away in August.
  2. Stephen Sondheim - Tony, Oscar, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway composer and lyricist. His works include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Sweeney Todd.
  3. Gianni Versace - Trendsetting fashion designer who designed for the jet set before his murder in 1997.
  4. Sheila Kuehl - In 1994, Kuehl became the first openly gay person elected to the California legislature. In her youth Kuehl played the role of Zelda in the TV sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
  5. Tennessee Williams - Tortured playwright who wrote unforgettable works like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.
  6. Alice Walker - Author and feminist who won a Pulitzer for her groundbreaking book The Color Purple.
  7. Greg Louganis - Olympic diver who took home the gold at the '84 Olympics in Los Angeles and the '88 games in Seoul.
  8. Bertrand DelanoĆ« -  This Paris mayor has a reputation for honesty as he backs environmental and LGBT causes in the City of Lights.
  9. Margaret Mead - American cultural anthropologist who remains a legacy in feminist history. Her views helped to advance the sexual revolution of the 1960s. 
  10. Mark Bingham - Hero of 9/11; Bingham was one of the brave fliers believed to have overpowered the hijackers on United Flight 93 and saved the U.S. Capitol from being attacked.

  11. Cleve Jones - An intern for Harvey Milk, Jones founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is best known for the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
  12. Jann Wenner - Editor of the influential Rolling Stone magazine, which has been publishing for over 40 years.
  13. Harvey Fierstein - This gravelly voiced actor wrote and starred in the play and film Torch Song Trilogy. Fierstein also wrote the book to the much-loved musical La Cage aux Folles.
  14. Margarethe Cammermeyer - A colonel in the Washington National Guard who became a gay rights activist after being discharged from the military for being gay.
  15. Anthony Romero - Powerful executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  16. Melissa Etheridge - Platinum-selling, Grammy- and Oscar-winning musician whose hits include "I'm the Only One" and "Come to My Window."
  17.  Gene Robinson - Bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church. Robinson was the first openly gay, noncelibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination.
  18. John Waters - Cult film director whose movies, like Pink Flamingos and Girl Trouble, are legendary.
  19. Robert Mapplethorpe - Photographer best known for his sexy works X Portfolio, Y Portfolio, and Z Portfolio.
  20. Georgina Beyer - First openly transgender member of New Zealand's parliament.
  21. Tony Kushner - Pulitzer- and Tony-winning writer of Angels in America, an epic play about AIDS in the 1980s.
  22. Rosie O'Donnell - Outspoken comedian and actress who anchored her own talk show and starred in A League of Their Own and Sleepless in Seattle.
  23. Philip Johnson - Provocative architect who came out in 1994, when his biography was released. Johnson is the founding director of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
  24. E.M. Forster - English author who explored sexuality and class differences in novels such as Maurice and Howard's End.
  25. Randy Shilts - San Francisco journalist and author who wrote The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk and And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic.
  26.  Allen Ginsberg - Credited with coining the term "Flower Power," this poet and songwriter is best known for his book Howl and Other Poems.
  27.  Troy Perry - Reverend Elder Dr. Troy D. Perry founded the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, which has grown to over 300 congregations in 16 countries.
  28. Bill T. Jones - Dancer and choreographer who worked with his partner of 17 years to create such moving performances as Still/Here, dealing with HIV/AIDS.
  29. Andy Warhol - One of the most influential artists of our time, Warhol created the movement known as Pop Art.
  30. Rachel Carson - Best-selling author and influential marine biologist whose research prompted the government and everyday Americans to become conscious of environmental issues.
  31. Michelangelo - Italian Renaissance artist best known for his sculpture David and his artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. 

The LGBT History Month Co-Chairs - Professor Sharon Ullman of the History Department at Bryn Mawr College and Professor Kenji Yoshino of New York University School of Law - review all nominations and recommend 31 Icons. Once the icons have been chosen, beginning October 1, 2008, a new LGBT Icon video is presented daily. Each day visitors to the site have access to the current Icon and his or her bio and resources, along with all the preceding Icons.

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