It’s only been 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, which is considered one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement. Scores of people in the LGBT community and their advocates fought back at a police raid of the Stonewall Inn.
Back then, the Stonewall Inn was one of the rare establishments that accepted marginalized people of the LGBT community. While the world is becoming a more inclusive place, there’s still a long way to go for complete freedom from discrimination.
From sports players and politicians, to poets and playwrights, these activists continue to push for equality and understanding. Read on for the 13 inspiring quotes from LGBT leaders.
1. George Takei – Actor, Director, and Activist
”We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”
2. Tammy Baldwin – First Openly Gay U.S. Senator
“There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now okay to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.”
3. Leslie Feinberg – Author and Transgender Activist
“Like racism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry against transgender people is a deadly carcinogen. We are pitted against each other in order to keep up from seeing each other as allies. Genuine bonds of solidarity can be forged between people who respect each other’s differences and are willing to fight their enemy together. We are the class that does the work of the world, and can revolutionize it. We can win true liberation.”
4. Alice Walker – Novelist, Essayist, and Activist
“Please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.”
5. Charles M. Blow – Journalist, Columnist, and Commentator
”Part of what my discomfort was, in the beginning, is that I wanted something that didn’t exist. I wanted something that was so singular, a label that was so singular for me. I was so special – I was so different from everybody else I was meeting. And I wanted a different label. And I had to say, ‘Charles, snap out of that. What are you talking about?’ All identity labels are umbrella terms to some degree, but this term bisexual is not only serviceable but it is sufficient. And yes, it brings together a bunch of people who are maybe shades different from one another. And maybe that’s the beauty of labels: that they force you to be with other people and see the difference.”
6. Bob Paris – Author, Bodybuilder, Former Mr. Universe, and Activist
“Every gay and lesbian person who has been lucky enough to survive the turmoil of growing up is a survivor. Survivors always have an obligation to those who will face the same challenges.”
7. Kristen Beck – First Openly Transgender Former U.S. Navy Seal
“I don’t want you to love me. I don’t want you to like me. But I don’t want you to beat me up and kill me. You don’t have to like me, I don’t care. But please don’t kill me.”
8. Portia DeRossi – Actor, Model, and Philanthropist
“I’m living by example by continuing on with my career and having a full, rich life, and I am incidentally gay.”
9. Chaz Bono – Writer, Musician, and Actor
“I’ve been embraced by a new community. That’s what happens when you’re finally honest about who you are; you find others like you.”
10. Janet Mock – Author, TV Host, Transgender Rights Activist
“I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act.”
11. Ellen Degeneres – Comedian, TV Host
”I learned compassion from being discriminated against. Everything bad that’s ever happened to me has taught me compassion.”
12. Simon Nkoli – Equal Rights Activist
”I am black and I am gay. I cannot separate the two parts of me into secondary or primary struggles. In South Africa, I am oppressed because I am a black man and I am oppressed because I am a gay man. So, when I fight for my freedom I must fight against both oppressions… All those who believe in a democratic South Africa must fight against all oppression, all intolerance, all injustice.”
13. Rupaul – Drag queen, Actor, Songwriter, and TV Personality
“When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.”
LGBT Leaders: Forces of Change
The fight for positive change and equality is far from over. These quotes from LGBT leaders address many aspects of the LGBT experience: from the strength needed to survive in a hostile world to the power of community.
This list of quotes isn’t exhaustive. There are many other LGBT leaders in the community that also deserve recognition.
Simply the act of coming out to friends and family is enormous. Hopefully these quotes bolster your strength and remind you that hundreds, thousands, and maybe millions of people have your back. I certainly do.