Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, transgender rights activist. She participated in the 1969 Stonewall Riots and was taken into custody after being hit over the head by a police officer, serving five years. Griffin-Gracy then moved to San Diego to organize grassroots movements for transgender people of color.
Photo courtesy of Stand With Trans
Storme DeLarverie, the one that sparked the Stonewall Riots. DeLarverie was known as the butch lesbian who confronted police at the Stonewall Inn. The gay civil rights activist was also an entertainer who performed at the Apollo Theater and Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, NY. Also known as “the Rosa Parks of the gay commnity,” DeLarverie was a bouncer, bodyguard and volunteer street patrol worker.
Photo courtesy of GQ
Gladys Bentley, blues singer, pianist and entertainer. She was revolutionary for LGBTQ folks in her masculinity. Though she wasn’t trying to “pass” as male, “she exerted a ‘black female masculinity’ that troubled the distinctions between black and white and masculine and feminine.” Bentley was also a key player in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural revival for Black arts.
Photo courtesy of The Advocate
Yasmin Benoit promoted asexual and aromantic visibility, and LGBTQ people of color. The model, activist and writer began her career at 16, modeling alternative fashion. She came out publicly in a 2017 YouTube video titled “Things Asexual Girls Don’t Like to Hear,” which notes her beginning as an activist for the “A” in LGBTQIA.
Photo courtesy of The Independent
Jennicet Gutierrez, a founding member of La Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. Her actions support transgender women detained for their immigration status. She got national attention for the time she interrupted President Barack Obama during a speech at a 2015 celebration for LGBTQ accomplishments.
Photo courtesy of The Washington Post
Amazin LeThi, athlete, cultural change leader, keynote speaker, LGBTQ advocate, author and commentator. She is the first and only Asian and LGBTQ athlete to simultaneously hold multiple sports ambassador roles around the world. She was also the first Asian LGBTQ athlete to appear in the Rainbow Laces campaign.
Photo courtesy of The Yappie
Kim Coco Iwamoto, one of the top pioneers for LGBTQ rights, according to Newsweek. Her passions lie in helping homeless LGBTQ youth by using her own life experience as a transgender woman. Helping those in need pushed her to attend law school. From Hawaii, she was one of the democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor in 2018.
Photo courtesy of The Advocate
Brenda Howard, bisexual rights activist, sex-positive feminist and polyamorous. She is known for being a key component in the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Howard was involved in LGBTQ activism for over three decades, including being a part of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance’s Speakers Bureau. She was also active in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights that helped New York City’s gay rights law through its city council in 1986.
Photo courtesy of The Advocate
Cecilia Chung, civil rights leather and activist for LGBTQ folks and HIV/AIDS awareness, health advocacy and social justice. She has spent a large portion of her life advocating for health issues related to the LGBTQ community. Chung is also the first transgender woman and first Asian to be elected to the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration board of directors.
Photo courtesy of Transgender Law Center
Angie Xtravaganza was a prominent transgender performer in New York City’s gay ballroom culture. She was co-founder and Mother of the House of Xtravaganza, one of the most publicly recognized “houses” to emerge from the New York City underground ballroom scene and among the longest continuously active.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Coccinelle, or Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy, the first widely-publicized post-war transgender woman to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Europe. Since her physical transition, Dufresnoy has been an activist for the community through the later half of the 20th century. Her foundation, “Devenir Femme” (To Become Woman), was made to provide emotional support for those looking to transition.
Photo courtesy of Frenchly
Lili Elbe, a Danish painter, was among the first transgender women to undergo gender reassignment surgery, in which the operation in Germany was highly experimental at the time. Her life was transformed into a literary piece “The Danish Girl” by David Ebershoff and was widely received worldwide.
Photo courtesy of All That’s Interesting
Christine Jorgensen was among the first known transgender women in the U.S. to receive gender reassignment surgery. After returning from the operation from overseas, she became an instant celebrity after being the front-page story of The New York Daily News and became an advocate for transgender people nationwide.
Photo courtesy of Bio.
Sylvia Rivera “was an American gay liberation and transgender rights activist who was also a noted community worker in New York. Rivera, who identified as a drag queen, participated in demonstrations with the Gay Liberation Front.” While being close with Marsha P. Johnson, she co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR).
Photo courtesy of NBC News
Marsha P. Johnson, possibly one of the most famous LGBTQ rights activists in recent history after being a key piece in the Stonewall Riots. She was also very popular among New York City’s gay arts scene, once modeling for Andy Warhol. Johnson also became an HIV/AIDS activist in the late 1980s and early 1990s through the program ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).
Photo courtesy of British Vogue

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