5 Influential LGBTQIA+ People you should know - The Trailblazers



If you could invite 5 influential LGBTQIA+ people around for dinner who would you choose?



It's hard to believe that only a generation ago, being gay was considered a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Even though LGBTQIA+ visibility has come light-years since then, it is thanks to the trailblazers who fought for decades to challenge the status quo and bring inclusivity and equality for all.


There have been some very notable figures in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and more (LGBTQIA+) community who have paved the way for future generations to live freely and openly. A lot of times, we take our history for granted or don't pay much attention to the people who have fought for our rights.



In honour of Pride Month, here are 5 influential LGBTQIA+ folks you should know


In no particular order, they have paved the way for future generations to live freely and openly by educating the masses on queer issues and fighting tirelessly for social justice.


Lady Phyll - (Phyll Opoku-Gyimah)


Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is an activist based in the United Kingdom. Her focus is on promoting rights for the LGBTQIA and B communities and helping to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. She’s currently co-founder of U.K. Black Pride, an organisation celebrated for helping lay the foundations for better understanding among people from around the world.


The organisation’s line: “Building unity and cooperation between all-black LGBTQIA+ people is at the heart of our mission.” In an interview with Justlikeus.org Lady Phyll said, “it’s so important that the next generation feel that they can have these conversations and have some of these very nuanced conversations, and help educate and teach”


Christine Jorgensen


Born in 1926, Christine Jorgensen was one of the first transgender individuals who openly announced her desire for gender reassignment surgery. Because of Jorgensen's prominent display as a public figure, she helped inspire many other transgender women who look to achieve their goals and be at peace with their decisions.


She also helped redefine what gender identity is considered to be. In 1950, after multiple surgeries, transgender women no longer needed to rely on male companionship to survive; they could realistically live on their own and experience an entirely new life.


Billie Jean King


Billie Jean King was a pioneering figure for women’s athletics, who is also famous for being an out lesbian. The American tennis player won 12 Grand Slam singles titles between 1966 and 1974, and 27 more in doubles. In 1973, she played an instrumental role in developing the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). In 1981, she served as the president of the organisation and was the first female athlete to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.


When publicly outed for being gay King’s lawyers and publicists advised her to deny the claims King lost her sponsorships and saw her winnings going straight to pay her legal fees. but The champion athlete refused to deny it. when speaking to NBCnews King told them, “I said: ‘I’m going to do it. I don't care. This is important to me, to tell the truth.” Through owning her identity King’s popularity and notability as a key figure in the LGBTQIA+ community began to soar.


Laverne Cox


Laverne Cox became a household name in 2013 when she landed the role of Sophia Burset in "Orange Is the New Black." Since then, Cox has produced and directed several documentary films and TV series and written a book entitled "Daring to be myself: A Memoir."


She was also the first openly transgender person to appear on the covers of TIME magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine and Essence magazine among others. She continues to spread her message of equality and acceptance as an advocate for transgender rights.


In an interview with Hollywood Life Cox said “Once we can accept that trans people are who we say we are and that our humanity should be respected, then I think all of the policies that we see being passed in my country, in the United States, that are affecting trans youth, we won’t pass laws like that anymore.”


Gilbert Baker - Rainbow warrior


This list, albeit a short one, would not be complete without the man who created the universal symbol for LGBTQIA+ communities, the rainbow flag. Gilbert Baker (1951 - 2017) was a world-famous political activist, artist and flag maker. Baker was urged to create the flag we all know and love today by Harvey Milk, who was one of the first openly gay politicians to be elected in the state of California.


According to Insider.com, the rainbow pride flag was first flown in San Francisco on June 25, 1978, for Gay Pride Day. In his own words, Baker described the flag as a symbol of liberation. He called it the modern alternative to the pink triangle.



These individuals, and many more like them, have paved the way for a better world in terms of making it safer and easier to be who you are.


It is important to note that equality is far from being achieved worldwide, and there are still many battles to be fought. The LGBTQIA+ community has continued to face hardships and discrimination yet they continue to fight back with love.


If there is one thing to take away from this post, it's that LGBTQIA+ people have always existed throughout human history, long before the term itself was ever coined. There has been a great deal of effort in both the UK and abroad to improve the social standing of LGBTQIA+ people since the 1960s, and there is ample evidence to suggest we are moving in the right direction.


That said, it would be foolish to suppose that issues related to sexuality and gender will disappear overnight. Instead, keep an eye on how LGBTQIA+ rights are handled around the world and lend your support accordingly. After all, history might look back at our generation as the tipping point for humankind.