Important LGBT2Q Figures Didn't See in Your History Textbooks
Written by a Thrive Online Guest Writer
It's important to learn about Queer history, and to celebrate the work and achievements of LGBT2Q+ people, because it not only further’s one’s education and broadens one’s scope of knowledge, but also helps those who are a part of the community feel safe and heard. It empowers us to be ourselves, to embrace our identity and wear it proud. Knowing the history of our community helps us connect to our identity and drives the passion to continue fighting for those who face inequalities. So, with that, let's learn about some important LGBT2Q+ figures...
Marsha P. JohnsonMarsha P. Johnson was an activist, self identified drag queen, performer, and survivor. She was a prominent and important figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969 and an active voice in the fight for trans rights. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and S.T.A.R, which she founded with with Sylvia Rivera, another activist. Together the two opened the Star House, a shelter for homeless LGBT2Q+ youth. Her legacy inspires us to continue to protect and take care of trans women who continue to face discrimination, violence, and oppression.
Slyvia RiveraSylvia Rivera was a legendary transgender activist. She fought for the banning of gender discrimination, strived to create safe places for queer homeless youth, and advocated loudly for equal rights. Sylvia Rivera is known for throwing the second Molotov cocktail at Stonewall when she was only 17. She became no stranger to protests as she continued to fight for marginalized voices and challenged the LGBT2Q+ community to be more progressive; she fought for the rights of people of colour within the community.
Douglas StewartDouglas Stewart is an LGBT2Q+ rights activist and was the founding Executive Director of the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention. He was a founding member of Zami, the first Black queer group in Toronto, and was one of the first people in Canada to speak out publicly against the exclusion and racism that queers of color faced from the overall queer community.
Jim EganJim Egan was a Canadian LGBT2Q+ rights activist and journalist. He challenged the homophobic culture of the press industry in the late 1940s — at a time when it was dangerous to speak out against homophobia. More notably, his law case, Egan v. Canada in 1995 fought for his life partner to recieve spousal benefits. Until this case, the definition of “spouse” was restricted to someone of the opposite sex, but Egan argued that this definition infringed his rights. This case lead to sexual orientation being protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Ernestine EcksteinEckstein was a leader in the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, the first American lesbian civil and political rights organization. She attended protests and was typically one of the only women — and the only Black woman — to be present at LGBT2Q + protests and rallies. Not only was she an active voice in the fight for LGBT2Q+ rights, but also in the fight for women’s, most notably Black women’s, rights.
Jackie ShaneJackie Shane was a trans artist who contributed greatly to the local Toronto music scene in the 1960s. Combining rock and roll with soul, Shane's music included expressions unique to Toronto's active but mostly underground LGBT2Q+ scene. In her live album, Jackie Shane Live, she channeled her lived experiences with bigotry, sending a clear message to those who didn't accept her for who she was.
Alice NkomAlice Nkom became the first female barrister in the country of Cameroon and broke boundaries by advocating for gay rights. She has founded the nonprofit organization Association for the Defence of Homosexuals that provides support and legal defence to LGBT2Q+ persons in Cameroon. Nkom continues to fight for the rights and equality of LGBT2Q+ people in her country.
Arsham ParsiArsham is an Iranian, homosexual man who founded the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees in Canada. He advocates and assists queer Iranians seeking asylum. He is also known for his autobiography, Exiled for Love, which touches on his experience fleeing his country because of his sexual orientation.
Gloria EshkibokGloria Eshkibok was born and raised on Wikwemikong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island. She is a Two-Spirited actor, singer, and community activist. She was also a victim of the Sixties Scoop; a practice that occurred in Canada where Indigenous children were taken from their families and communities and placed in the foster care system. She speaks about her experiences and is a prominent activist for Indigenous and Two-Spirited peoples.
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