Over the centuries, many brave and exceptional individuals, often at significant personal risk, went against the odds and refused to let inequalities and prejudices stop them from changing the rules, laws and opinions relating to the LGBTQIA+ community across the globe.
We all must remember and celebrate all those exceptional individuals. Those people that are now and in the past who have fought hard for equal treatment for the LGBTQIA+ community
Diamond, Missouri, United States
b. 1864 – d. 1943
The actual date when George Washington Carver was born was unknown as he was born into slavery, but it is believed to have been during the year 1860. Both of George’s parents were enslaved people living in Diamond in Missouri. By age five, George became a free man when slavery was abolished. After being accepted by several universities, all offers became revoked, and he was not allowed to attend due to his race. Eventually, in 1891, he became the first black student at Iowa State University studying Agriculture. After receiving his master’s, he became the first black faculty member at Iowa State. George left Iowa State for Tuskegee University, where he taught for 47 years.
Over the years, Carver developed a number of techniques to help with crop cultivation and became an advocate for the initiative to encourage farmers to restore nitrogen to their soil. George’s work and research saw him become a public figure, with President Theodore Roosevelt showing public support for his work. In 1919 Carver wrote to a peanut manufacturer about the potential he saw for peanut milk. He late received funding for himself and his college, William Melhuish, to research a milk substitute made from peanuts and soybean.
George’s research and personality saw him rise to celebrity-like status. However, little was known about his private life at the time. George never married, and when he turned forty, he started a relationship with Sarah Hunt, a relationship which lasted three years. In 2015, the author and historian Christina Vella published a biography entitled George Washington Carver: A Life. Within the Biography, George was believed to be bisexual and hid his sexuality due to his status and the country’s stance on same-sex relationships at that time.
Though George was never able to publicly and openly identify as Bisexual, he was a remarkable individual. A person who both the LGBTQIA+ and the black community are proud to call their own. He only overcame so many adversities and obstacles, from being born into slavery to the constant struggles for equality. George was dedicated and perseverant, a drive that resulted in George achieving so many of his goals, from graduating from university to his ground-breaking work in agricultural science. Regardless of George’s sexuality, he was an exceptional individual. Upon his death, on his tombstone, George’s epitaph reads, “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honour in being helpful to the world.” The sentiment and statement best sum up George and his incredible life.
Thank you, Mr Washington Carter, may you never be forgotten
TAKING PRIDE IN YOU
Santos Dumont, Minas Gerais, Brazil
b. 1873 – d. 1932
In 1901, Alberto controversially became internationally recognised as the world’s greatest aviator and inventor of the airship. The controversy was due to the successful test of his N-6 balloon, which was 622 cubic metres and housed a 20-horsepower engine. After the 29-minute flight, the Deutsch Prize committee initially denied Alberto the award. The controversy was surrounded by a decision made by Mr Deutsch, for whom the award was named after. Most of the general public disagreed with the committee’s ruling, believing Alberto had won. The committee later reversed their decision and eventually awarded Alberto the prize. After achieving so much within ballooning, Alberto later turned his attention to engines, specifically gliders, helicopters and planes.
After several prototypes, it was in 1909 that Alberto presented the Demoiselle No.20, considered the first ultralight in history. The Demoiselle is on permanent display at the Musée de l’air et de l’espace in Paris. Sadly, Alberto had multiple sclerosis and began to withdraw from public life; however, during the first world war, Alberto offered his services to the French Ministry of war. During the war, aeroplanes began to be used in warfare, with aerial combats becoming more violent. At this point, Alberto saw his dream turn into a nightmare.
Alberto is considered a national hero in Brazil, and there is a controversy regarding his sexuality. Considered a shy, well-groomed, and without any public and known relationships, some believe Alberto may not have been entirely heterosexual. Others and accounts of those that knew him have publicly stated that Alberto had remarked about liking women. Regardless of his sexual orientation, Alberto was a remarkable individual. Though not as widely known as the Wright Brothers, it is clear that his work and research contributed a lot to modern-day aviation.
Thank you, Mr Santos-Dumont, may you never be forgotten
Hoboken, New Jersey, USA
b. 1894 – d. 1956
Alfred Charles Kinsey was born in 1894 in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the United States. Alfred was the eldest of three children. Even though his father was a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, Alfred’s family struggled financially for much of his childhood. Alfred grew up in a strict and religious home, with his parents both devout members of the local Methodist church. It was during high school that Alfred developed two significant interests. His first was his love for the piano. He even once hoped to become a professional concert pianist. His second was an interest in botany. After graduation, Alfred began studying engineering at his father’s insistence. However, he eventually confronted his father and switched courses to follow his passion and study biology.
In 1916, Alfred graduated from Bowdoin College with degrees in biology and psychology. Alfred continued his studies by attending Harvard University, one of the US’s most highly regarded biology programmes. After graduating, Alfred went on to accept an academic post in biology at Indiana University. Throughout the years, Alfred published several highly regarded books in the field of Biology. In addition to his notable works in biology, Alfred is also considered the first significant figure in American sexology, where he researched sexuality amongst men and women. Alfred himself identified as bisexual, and even though he was married and a family man, he had an open marriage and had many relationships with other men over the years.
There is much controversy regarding Alfred’s work in sexology, namely regarding his participation in his studies and the vast amounts of sexual material he collected from around the world. Through Alfred’s Kinsey Reports, he introduced and articulated concepts not previously considered within the academic communities. One of Alfred’s most significant contributions is the scale that explains the fluidity within sexuality that was previously believed. Rather than individuals being either heterosexual or homosexual, there are different degrees. Though there are things in common, individuals do not necessarily neatly fit into one or more categories. It has since been acknowledged that the scale had some flaws; however, it was the start or beginning point for the world in understanding gender and sexual identities.
Thank you, Dr Kinsey, may you never be forgotten
EXCEPTIONAL AND DIVERSE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY
New York, New York, USA
b. 1951 – d. 2002
Sylvia Rivera was born in 1951 in New York City. Born to a Puerto Rican father and a Venezuelan mother, Sylvia struggled and experienced much hardship and abandonment throughout her early life. Sylva’s father abandoned her shortly after her birth, and Sylvia became an orphan at the age of three after her mother had committed suicide. Sylvia lived with her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of her effeminate ways, resulting in Sylvia living on the streets at 11. While on the streets, Sylvia was forced to work as a child prostitute and was eventually taken in by the local drag queens, who gave her the name Sylvia.
At 18, Sylvia participated in the Gay Liberation Front’s Drag Queen Caucus and the Gay Activists Alliance. Two groups focused not only on gay rights but also on the inclusion of drag queens within the community and movement. With her closest friend, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia and Marsha formed the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). STAR offered services and advocacy for the city’s homeless LGBTQIA+ youth. At the same time, Sylvia became a vocal advocate of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in New York. SONDA prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights. After a disagreement with Marsha Johnson over claims relating to the Stonewall Riots, Sylvia relocated to upstate New York. Sylvia later returned to the city in 1992, after the death of her close friend Marsha P Johnson. Sylvia campaigned alongside Marsha’s friends against the claims made by the police that Marsha had committed suicide. While back in the city, Sylvia was homeless and resided at the Gay Piers on Christopher Street in New York. While at Gay Piers, Sylvia became a vocal advocate for all of the city’s homeless members from the gay community.
Throughout Sylvia’s life, she had suffered from substance abuse and even had attempted to take her own life. Even with all her struggles, hardships and problems, she remained a vocal advocate for the rights of the gay, drag, transgender and homeless communities. As a Latina woman, Sylvia suffered abuse on how she identified and racism based on her ethnicity. Sylvia’s own life, voice and dedication to the movement mean that she is and will remain an important person in the fight for equality for LGBTQIA+ and specifically transgender rights in the USA and worldwide.
Thank you, Ms Rivera, may you never be forgotten
DISCOVER HOW WELL THE COMMUNITY ARE TREATED..
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
b. 1944 – d. 2021
Carl Bean was born in Baltimore in the US state of Maryland in 1944. Carl had a difficult upbringing; his godparents raised him after his mother died during an abortion. Early in his childhood, he was sexually abused by his uncle and rejected by his family for being gay. After a difficult childhood and all that he went through and struggled with, Carl attempted to take his own life. The attempt resulted in him becoming hospitalised in a mental health ward.
At age 16, Carl moved to New York to pursue his dream of gospel singing. After some success, Carl relocated to Los Angeles and formed the Carl Bean and Universal love group, which Motown Records signed. While working with Motown, Carl recorded the disco track; I Was Born This Way, a record that became a positive message played at gay pride events and an anthem for the LGBTQIA+ community. The song’s success inspired Carl to connect more with his faith, and as a result, he became ordained in 1982. In that same year, now Reverend Bean, Carl founded the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, Los Angeles (UFCLA), a church for openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender African Americans. Today, the church has expanded to 17 affiliate churches in the US and Caribbean.
During the 80s global HIV and Aids epidemic, Archbishop Bean saw the devastation to the Black and Latino gay communities in Los Angeles. In 1985, Carl formed the Minority Aids Project (MAP), a group designed to offer prevention, care, and treatment services for people of colour on low incomes and who live with HIV and AIDs. For all his hard work, dedication, and support for the LGBTQIA+ community in Los Angeles, in 2019, the city council unanimously voted to rename a square in southern Los Angeles to Archbishop Carl Bean Square. Carl is a shining example that the Christian faith, a man of colour and the LGBTQIA+ community can coexist in unity and achieve extraordinary things.
Thank you, the most Reverend Bean, may you never be forgotten
LGBTQIA+ COUNTRY & REGION GUIDES
The LGBTQIA+, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities have been around for thousands of years and referenced in many texts, scriptures and paintings from as early as 2400 BC. The diverse community includes many famous and notable people, from emperors, kings, poets, and politicians. Many of which have played key and important roles throughout history.
Over the centuries, the treatment of the community and its members’ rights has changed, from individuals being tolerated and often on the fringe of society to becoming active targets and facing brutal persecution. It was only until the end of the 18th Century that things improved. Large scale global change only began to occur in the 20th Century, typically from the 1970s to the present day.
The New York Stonewall Riots in 1969 became a catalyst for the global gay liberation movement. However, many brave individuals have stood up and championed the community throughout history, often at significant risk to themselves. It is often hard to imagine what life must have been like even as recent as 40 years ago, left alone 200 years. With conservative and religious beliefs dominating society, many individuals were required to suppress and hide their true selves for fear of persecution.
It took a group of brave and fearless individuals to stand up and have their voices heard. To show the world that the rules, laws and opinions had to change. The change resulted in the freedoms and rights many of us now enjoy. Increase acceptance and protection within the law directly given the work and effort of these exceptional individuals. Though there have been significant developments relating to the equality status for many members of the LGBTQIA+ community, they are not so fortunate. Many people still live in countries and under regimes; even today, they are actively targeted and in constant fear for their lives. In those countries right now, activists are fighting to change the rights and laws. As individuals and all the risks, and for their bravery and desire to see change, we are truly grateful for all they are going for the global community. We know many of those activists will become pioneers in the future.
Gayther feels it is crucial to highlight and focus on these exceptional pioneers as a community and their contributions to fairer and more tolerant societies worldwide. To showcase all that they have accomplished and to ensure that they are never forgotten, so we would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Gayther’s annual pioneer collection.
ADVOCATES | PIONEER COLLECTIONS: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019
There are thousands of events taking place, it is not always easy to know what is going on and when, Gayther can help