LGBTQ+ leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They include activists who gave their lives for the cause and role models who show us every day how to have an impact on the world around us.
While LGBTQ+ people have existed throughout all periods of history, we’re getting more recognition than ever before. Today, an estimated 4.5% of Americans identify as LGBTQ+ and recent studies have found that as many as 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ+.
In large part, the lives we lead today can be credited to the LGBTQ+ leaders that came before us. Their stories serve as an inspiration and part of history.
Top Quotes from LGBTQ Leaders
Below are ten quotes from pioneers and icons from across the LGBTQ+ community.
1. Harvey Milk: “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” …
Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay politicians to be elected to public office. He was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977, where he passed groundbreaking gay rights ordinances for the city.
This quote is especially poignant since Harvey was shot down less than a year after taking office. He is considered one of the major icons in the gay rights movement.
2. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir: “It is absolutely imperative that every human being’s freedom and human rights are respected, all over the world.”
This woman was elected Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009, becoming the country’s first female leader and also the world’s first openly gay head of government. She was included on Forbes’ list of 100 most powerful women in the world.
She famously penned an op-ed in the New York Times declaring that “women are generally better than men at ensuring fairness in society. The world would truly be a better place if equal numbers of women and men were at the helm.”
3. Katie Sowers: “Be kind.”
Katie Sowers actually was quoting another gay icon, Ellen Degeneres, when she used this expression to reply to hatred after Sowers’ team lost the Super Bowl.
Sowers broke every barrier imaginable to become the first openly gay female football coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl. She coached the San Francisco 49ers, and the players all loved her and appreciated her abilities.
Katie was a pioneer for both women and gay people by breaking into this predominantly cis male sport.
4. Christine Jorgensen: “Everyone is both sexes in varying degrees. I am more of a woman than a man.”
One of the first Americans to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, this blond beauty gained worldwide fame as an advocate for the transgender community.
Christine became quite a celebrity in her day and spoke openly about her experience. Her doctor credited her for revolutionizing the medical process now used to assist people with gender reassignment.
5. Sylvia Rivera: “I’m not missing a minute of this. It’s the revolution!”
This revolutionary claimed to have been present at the Stonewall riots, although others in the community dispute that. Nevertheless, she was a forceful advocate for drag queens and the transgender community, whom she felt were excluded in the early days of the gay rights movement.
She also worked hard to help homeless gay and transgender youth who often ended up on the street, as she had been as a child.
6. Tammy Baldwin: “All of us who are openly gay are living and writing the history of our movement. We are no more – and no less – heroic than the suffragists and abolitionists of the 19th century; and the labor organizers, Freedom Riders, Stonewall demonstrators, and environmentalists of the 20th century.”
This politician is the first openly gay women elected to the United States Congress. She was elected from the state of Wisconsin, which was not always recognized as the most gay-friendly jurisdiction. She opposed the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy and supported gay marriage long before the bill finally passed.
7. Anderson Cooper: “I think being gay is a blessing, and it’s something I am thankful for every single day.”
Anderson Cooper shines his intelligence and good looks into our living rooms every night on CNN, showing the world that being gay is no barrier to journalistic or professional success.
His bravery in the face of hurricanes and wars is balanced by his adorable sense of humor and infectious giggle, especially when he teams up with pal Andy Cohen for New Years and other fun.
Who doesn’t love Anderson?
8. Harvey Fierstein: “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”
From his award-winning triumphs on Broadway to his many film roles in such hits as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Harvey has never let convention or prejudice stand in his way. He is both a sweet Jewish boy from Brooklyn and a former drag queen who has brought gay issues to the forefront in plays and movies- always with a dose of humor.
9. George Takei: “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.”
Whoever thought that a minor character from “Star Trek” would become a major spokesperson for the gay community? George’s huge online following of fans of all persuasions embraces his joyful brand of love and acceptance.
10. Troy Perry: “The Lord is my Shepherd and he knows I’m gay.”
Troy Perry founded a Protestant church focused on welcoming the LGBTQ community. He also encourages other religious organizations to open their doors more. He has received many awards for his activism and has met with many world leaders.
Troy actively opposed Anita Bryant and other anti-gay leaders and succeeded in firing up grassroots opposition to such oppressive government actions as preventing gay people from becoming teachers in California public schools.
LGBTQ Leaders: Words of Wisdom and Hope
Whether or not you’ve experienced discrimination, others have paved the path before you. I hope these quotes filled you with hope, inspiration and wisdom.
What other quotes from LGBTQ leaders should be included in this list? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add the best ones.