Influential LGBTQ+ People of the Past and Present
In an effort to raise awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ people of the past and present, the Diversity & Inclusion Council highlighted 22 influential LGBTQ+ people throughout June 2021 in our private Facebook group for members. We compiled the whole list to share with you here and encourage you to reflect, research, engage, and ask questions at your own pace. We are here to learn together!
1. Dr. Rachel Levine (She/Her/Hers)
Dr. Levine, a pediatrician and former Secretary of Heath for Pennsylvania, was nominated by President Biden to serve as the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Human Services. In March 2021, the U.S. Senate confirmed her position, making her the highest-ranking openly transgender person ever to serve in the federal government.
2. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (She/Her/Hers)
Griffin-Gracy, also known as Miss Major, is a transgender activist, community leader, Stonewall veteran, former sex worker, and fierce leader for the civil rights of transgender women and gender-nonconforming people of color. She served as the Executive Director for the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, which helps transgender folks who have survived incarceration and police brutality, in which they are disproportionately impacted. She now runs House of GG’s, a safe haven and retreat house for the transgender community in Arkansas.
3. Amber Hikes (They/She)
Amber Hikes is a social justice advocate, community organizer, and a proud queer black human. Hikes is the ACLU’s first Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. They provide vision, leadership, and direction for the ACLU’s nationwide strategy to support equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Prior to the ACLU, Hikes served as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. In 2017, they added black and brown stripes to the Philadelphia rainbow flag in a bold act of conscious inclusion, prompting an international conversation about race and discrimination within the LGBTQ community.
4. Angelica Ross (She/Her/Hers)
Angelica Ross is a prominent business owner, actor, and transgender rights advocate. She is the founding CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that provides training and employment for transgender people. Ross has appeared in a number of groundbreaking shows that promote incredible transgender representation such as Pose and Her Story. She is a leading figure of success and strength in the movement for transgender and racial equality.
5. Audre Lorde (She/Her/Hers)
Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," used her extraordinary creative talent to boldly confront and address the injustices of racism, homophobia, sexism, and classism. Beyond her writing, Lorde was also a staunch activist and a central figure in many groundbreaking liberation movements. In 1981, she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press to foster the writings of future Black feminists. She also founded Sisterhood in Support of Sisters to support Black women living under apartheid rule in South Africa.
6. Ser Anzoátegui (They/Them/Theirs)
A self-described "nonbinary Latinx, Chicanx, actor, playwright, and activist," Anzoátegui is best known for their portrayal of Eddy on the Starz trailblazing drama series Vida. They are a community leader and have made numerous contributions to the Latino Equality Alliance, California Endowment, Gender Justice LA, TransLatin@ Coalition, LA LGBTQ Center's Mi Centro, and East LA Housing Corporation.
7. Angela Morley (She/Her/Hers)
Angela Morley is one of the only known transgender composers and orchestrators in history. In 1974, she became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award for her work on the soundtrack of The Little Prince. Just two years later, she was nominated for a second Academy Award for her work on the soundtrack of The Slipper and the Rose. She would also go on to win three Emmy Awards in 1984, 1988, and 1990 in the category of "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction."
8. Barbara Smith (She/Her/Hers)
Barbara Smith is a Black lesbian author, educator, and legendary Black feminist icon. In 1974, she co-founded the Combahee River Collective, which analyzed the interlocking oppressions of race, gender, class, and sexuality affecting Black women, especially Black lesbian women, within the feminist and Civil Rights Movements. The Collective coined this term “identity politics.” Alongside Audre Lorde, Smith co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, one of the first independent organizations in the country committed to publishing women of color.
9. Indya Moore (They/Them/Theirs)
Indya Moore is a Black transgender and nonbinary actor, model, and activist who is best known for their role as Angel on FX's trailblazing drama series Pose. Moore was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2019 for their unrelenting commitment in the fight for transgender rights, particularly for Black trans women.
10. Jennicet Gutiérrez (She/Her/Hers)
Gutiérrez is a transgender immigrant and fierce Latinx activist. In June 2015, she famously interrupted President Obama during a White House gay pride event, calling out the administration’s mistreatment of transgender immigrants of color. She is a founding member of La Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement and much of her work today is dedicated to uplifting the voices of trans women of color and ending the deportation, incarceration, and criminalization of immigrants.
11. Menaka Guruswamy & Arundhati Katju (She/Her/Hers)
Lawyers Menaka Guruswamy & Arundhati Katju successfully argued for the decriminalization of homosexuality in India, resulting in the unanimous Supreme Court decision to repeal Section 377 in 2018. The couple was featured on Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2019.
12. Janet Mock (She/Her/Hers)
New York Times bestselling author Janet Mock continues to make history as a trailblazing writer, director, and transgender advocate. In 2018, Mock became the first transgender woman of color to write and direct an episode of television (FX's Pose). Most recently, she signed a three-year multimillion-dollar contract with Netflix, making her the first openly transgender woman of color to sign a deal with a major content company.
13. Laverne Cox (She/Her/Hers)
Laverne Cox is a transgender actor, executive producer, and activist. In 2014, Cox made Katja global headlines for being the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine and the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. In 2015, she became the first transgender woman to win a Daytime Emmy as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. She is a leading face of the trans rights movement and inspires trans youth all over the world.
14. Mia Yamamoto (She/Her/Hers)
Yamamoto is a Japanese-American transgender woman and the first openly trans attorney in Los Angeles County. As a criminal defense attorney, she was appointed by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to serve on the Judicial Council Task Forces on Jury Improvement and Fairness and Access in the Courts. The civil rights activist has emphasized the importance of standing in solidarity with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as hate crimes have increased.
15. Laurel Hubbard (She/Her/Hers)
New Zealand has named Laurel Hubbard to its women's weightlifting roster for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the games. She will be competing in the women's 87kg-plus super heavyweight division.
16. Bamby Salcedo (She/Her/Hers)
Salcedo is a nationally and internationally recognized transgender activist, community organizer, and social justice advocate. She is the founder and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition in Los Angeles. Her remarkable and wide-ranging activism has brought voice and visibility to not only the transgender community, but also to the multiple overlapping issues that have directly impacted her life such as immigration, HIV/AIDS, youth violence and incarceration, and discrimination faced by the Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities.
17. AC Dumlao (They/Them/Theirs)
Dumlao is a transgender nonbinary first-generation Filipino-American activist. As Program Manager at TLDEF, they manage the Name Change Project, which connects transgender people with attorneys providing pro bono representation during the legal name change process. Additionally, AC leads TLDEF’s community education initiatives and is the lead trainer for trans cultural competency presentations and workshops.
18. Geena Rocero (She/Her/Hers)
Rocero is a transgender Filipino-born American model, TED speaker, and activist based in New York City. She is the founder of Gender Proud, a media production company that tells stories of the transgender community worldwide to elevate justice and equality.
19. Zahara Green (She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs)
Green is the Founder and Executive Director of TRANScending Barriers Atlanta, a trans-led and issue-focused non-profit organization whose mission is to empower the transgender and gender non-conforming community in Georgia through community organizing and leadership building.
20. Gladys Bently (She/Her/Hers)
Bently was a Black, lesbian performer in Harlem that was known as “Harlem’s most famous lesbian” for her blues performances on the Harlem Nightlife scene during the 1920s. By the 1930s, she was regarded as one of the best black entertainers in the US. She was best known for her vocal talents and trademark top hat and black tuxedo. Her openly unique gender expression and identity served as a beacon of hope for lesbian performers around the world.
21. Sylvia Rivera (She/Her/Hers)
A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, Rivera was a prominent transgender activist and community leader. She fought tirelessly against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York and was an active member of the Gay Activists Alliance.
As someone who suffered from systematic poverty and racism, she used her voice for unity, sharing her personal stories, pain, and struggles to generate unity in the LGBTQ+ community. She fought for and amplified the voices of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community: people of color, drag queens, homeless youth, gay inmates in prison and jail, and transgender people.
22. Marsha P. Johnson (She/Her/Hers)
Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson was a Black transgender woman and outspoken LGBTQ+ rights activist and community leader, especially for transgender people of color. She was an iconic figure and prominent force in the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Along with her good friend Sylvia Rivera, she co-founded Street Transvestite (now renamed Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group committed to supporting transgender youth experiencing homelessness in New York City.
Our Diversity and Inclusion Council Mission:
Through a diverse team of WNA members - assess inclusion needs and opportunity gaps, brainstorm impactful solutions, guide the strategic direction and drive the practical application of WNA Inclusion initiatives.