Notable People of LGBTQ History

Emma Goldman. Photo by T. Kajiwara, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1898: The German Social Democratic Party was the first to support gay rights. The only one to support the demands of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee when it submitted its first petition for repeal of the anti-homosexual Paragraph 175 of the German penal code.


Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was the first public figure in the U.S. to openly support gay rights. A dedicated ally of Oscar Wilde during his prosecution she began speaking publicly on the issue of homosexuality in 1910.


Michael Dillon is remembered as the first known female-to-male trans. The procedure was completed in London after a series of 13 phalloplasty operations performed over a four-year period.


Homosexual Behavior Among Males” written by Wainwright Churchill is the first where the word homophobia appears in print.


Seventeen-year-old Randy Rohl, of Sioux Falls, SD was the first high school student to take a same-sex date to a prom.


Armistead Maupin was the first fiction writer to incorporate the subject of AIDS in his work Tales of the City series.


Valerie Terrigno, of West Hollywood, California, was the first openly lesbian mayor in the U.S. Top vote-getter among five city council members; she became mayor a month after her election to the council.


Terry Sweeney, the first openly gay performer on network television was part of the cast of Saturday Night Live. His impersonation of First Lady Nancy Reagan gained national attention.

OCTOBER 10, 1987

In Washington DC two thousand gay and lesbian couples exchanged vows on the steps of the Internal Revenue Service building. The mass ceremony was part of a week of activities and demonstrations planned in conjunction with the 1987 March on D.C. for gay and lesbian rights.


The New Republic, a conservative opinion mainstream magazine named 28-year-old Andrew Sullivan to its top editorial position. Despite expectations that Sullivan sexuality would discourage advertisers, the magazine thrived.


Deb Price became the first gay or lesbian columnist to write solely about gay topics for a mainstream daily metropolitan newspaper, her column appeared each Friday in the Detroit News, which had, at the time, a readership of 450,000.

History was never as straight as we are told. Recording our history means reporting the truth.

This is a part of a special LGBTQ History Month project. View more stories by visiting


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