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Five Influential LGBTQ Minds to Help You Celebrate Pride

The LGBTQ community has, for millennia, been regarded as a second class. Only in recent decades have the rest of us made strides in beginning to treat them with any form of equality.

Of course, there is still a ton of work to do. But Pride Month is about celebrating queerness and the LGBTQ community in general, so let's do just that!

Here are the heroes we will go over:

William Dorsey Swann

Alan Turing

Billie Jean King

Lil Nas X

RuPaul Charles

Millions and Millions of Others

William Dorsey Swann

William Dorsey Swann is perhaps one of the most important people in the entire history of the LGBTQ community's struggle for liberation and equality - and yet very few know his name.

Born a slave in 1860, Swann was the first ever drag queen. He often threw - as a gay black drag queen in the United States in the 1880s - drag parties from his home in D.C. As you might imagine, he was arrested several times.

Rather than choosing safety and remaining silent (which, by the way, is 100% okay to do), Swann chose to resist and continue to be his authentic self in an era where doing so often meant death.

We owe much of the progress that happened after that to his bravery. Without early supporters like Swann, the LGBTQ liberation movement may never have even started.

Looking for a picture of William Dorsey Swann? There are none easily accessible online. Images you might find online "depicting Swann" are actually photos of Jack Brown, another black drag pioneer, who is often mistaken for Swann.

Alan Turing

In contrast to Swann, most people have at least some knowledge about Alan Turing.

He makes the list of our most influential LGBTQ people in history both because of his notorious persecution and potential suicide, as well as his contributions to stopping the Nazis and computer science in general.

A mathematician and computer scientist, Turing is largely responsible for the device you are reading this article on right now. Without his work, we might still be using typewriters and gramophones.

He also developed the Turing Test, a way to indicate the level of intelligence a computer has. The test is still the subject of much conversation and analysis at the highest possible levels of the scientific community today.

He also helped crack several Nazi codes during World War II, making him a hero of freedom and social progress regardless of the circumstances of his persecution and death.

In the 1950s, despite his contributions to science and helping beat Hitler, Turing was arrested for a crime called "gross indecency" - which is '50s legalese for being gay.

Soon after, Turing is believed to have killed himself with cyanide - though this is the subject of some debate since modern inquiries have revealed some holes in the evidence.

Regardless of the truth behind his death, Turing is an important role model for a massive segment of the LGBTQ+ community. Turing showed us that being queer and changing the world aren't mutually exclusive - in fact, they often go hand-in-hand.

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King is - there's no other way of putting it - one of the best tennis players ever.

She holds a record of 20 titles at Wimbledon, and beat the former number one male tennis player in the world, Bobby Riggs, at a "Battle of the Sexes" tournament in 1973.

Needless to say, during her prime sports years, all eyes were on Billie Jean King. She was in the spotlight when, in 1981, she was outed as lesbian - much to the chagrin of her PR team.

They told her to deny the "accusation", and stay low while it blew over. But she refused.

King showed us that, even though it might be convenient for others, you should never be ashamed of the way you love.

Lil Nas X

Since Old Town Road swept the internet in late 2018 and through 2019, pretty much everyone knows who Lil Nas X.

Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, is an openly gay and black artist known for his cross-genre musical structures and deliberately striking visuals.

In fact, those traits are part of why he makes our list of the most influential LGBTQ+ people: Lil Nas X - an openly gay and black man - won a Country Music Award.

While Old Town Road didn't win Song of the Year out of concerns it's "not country enough", Lil Nas X did win the award for Best Musical Event of the Year.

The reason this is so important is that, while general progress has certainly been made and we live in, comparatively, a fairly accepting time, there are still some subcultures and groups of people for whom being queer is still considered "wrong."

One of these groups overlaps considerably with the country music fan base. Lil Nas X makes our list because he showed us we shouldn't be afraid to break down a given wall, even if it's never been done before.

RuPaul Charles

When it comes to spreading acceptance of drag, transgenderism, and gender acceptance in general, there is perhaps no better representative than the modern queen of drag himself, RuPaul Charles.

With over 750,000 people in the US alone watching his hit show RuPaul's Drag Race every week, it's hard to argue that any other single piece of media does more to promote gender acceptance. And that's just the US show. There's a Drag Race in Canada and the UK, as well as several spin-offs.

Credited as the "Queen of Drag" and accepting both "he" and "she" pronouns, RuPaul is an icon in the LGBTQ+ community. RuPaul shows more people than ever that gender identity is way more complex than a simple binary system.

Millions and Millions of Others

Listing every influential LGBTQ+ person to have ever lived is simply not possible in one blog article.

While the above list is composed of exceptional and generally famous people, it is the millions of closeted and uncloseted LGBTQ+ people out there, unsung, fighting every day for equality and peace - whether within their community or within themselves - who are truly doing the most for the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+ Therapy in Austin

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Austin and need mental health support, Williamsburg Therapy Group is proud to offer affirmational and supportive therapy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Just give us a call, and we'll be happy to match you with the right therapist for you.

Book an LGBTQ+ Therapy Session in Austin Today

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