Celebrating Queer Icons
Queer culture has shaped the course of humanity itself. Furthermore, it has shaped how we dress, speak, celebrate, and eat. Fashion, dance, literature, and science are all influenced by brilliant queer minds that have changed the form time and time again. There have been countless queer pioneers that have paved the way for us to celebrate our identities freely. As a celebration of Pride Month, here is a short, non-comprehensive list of some queer icons, both sung and unsung, throughout history, and today.
QUEER ICONS THROUGHOUT HISTORY
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver is known as the Scientist that invented peanut butter. But in fact, had never actually invented peanut butter. He did however discover 285 different uses for the legume. Carver never married, but he had a relationship with fellow scientist Austin W. Curtis Jr. Straight culture may not necessarily label him as queer. But he did will all his assets to Austin W Curtis Jr. when he passed. Carver never revealed his sexuality, and history books are silent on the topic. But historians commonly accept him as bisexual.
Florence Nightingale is the mother of modern nursing. She was one of the first to write down procedure in caring for wounded soldiers and changed the modern medical field forever. According to history books, she only had ‘close female friends’. However, historians now acknowledge that those friends were in fact her lovers.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Although historians have labeled Leonardo Da Vinci as ‘celibate’ in history books, that was far from the case. Da Vinci lived openly as a gay man in 15th century Florence. He had many trysts with men, and wrote about his his sexuality, all while being a sculptor, painter, and inventor, mathematician, astronomer, and more.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican Painter known for her folk art depicting self portraits, nature, and Mexican artifacts. She was heavily involved in politics and is celebrated globally as a symbol for Mexican nationalism. She is a feminist icon for her unabashed depiction of the female body and experience. Frida approached the idea of sexuality with incredible openness both in her life and in her art. She actively rejected limitations of orientation and gender throughout her life.
Shakespeare’s sexuality is shrouded in historical mystery in that history chooses not to acknowledge it. But the reality is that Shakespeare directed 126 love sonnets toward a young man. The most popular one of all, the ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ is in that category. Shakespeare packed other sonnets with queer metaphors. Contemporaries unpacking The Merchant of Venice have even called it a queer allegory.
QUEER ICONS TODAY
Alice Walker is probably most known for writing The Color Purple, but is also a fierce advocate and activist for the LGBTQ movement, the Feminist Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement. In 1967, Walker’s was the first interracial marriage in Mississippi. After her divorce, she was romantically involved with Tracy Chapman in the 90’s.
Margaret Cho is a writer, producer, stand up comedian, and LGBTQ activist. The first asian person to star in their own sitcom, Margaret Cho was always very vocal about being unapologetically Asian and unapologetically queer. She has fostered space in the queer Asian community, and has been an outspoken feminist her entire career.
Janet Mock is a writer, host, director and trans activist. She’s a New York Times Best Seller and a contributing editor for Marie Claire. Her powerful voice constantly uplifts the trans community and encourages their inclusion in entertainment. Recently, she closed a historic Netflix Deal as a producer and creator.
Mavendra Singh Gohil
Manvendra Singh Gohil is an actual real life Indian prince. He is the first openly gay prince in the entire world, and his charity the Lakshya Trust offers resources for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Gohil married, and subsequently divorced. Years later, a reporter outed him. Manvendra has since become a fierce advocate for South Asian queer folk.
Lumi Park is a writer, foodie, and Capricorn, from the cornfields of Ohio. He once won a NYC bartending award, a Brooklyn-wide comic book Trivia Bowl, and went to nationals two years in a year for the sport of jump roping. He is oddly not competitive.