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Celebrate inspirational LGBTQ+ icons

Let's celebrate inspirational LGBTQ+ icons!

We’ve brought together a list of a few of our favourite LGBTQ+ icons across 4 categories.

These influential figures have changed the world with their talent and determination.

Be inspired!

LGBTQ+ Actors and Performers

Sir Ian McKellen (Image from Viva Manchester)
Ellen DeGeneres (Image from Making Gay History)
Laverne Cox (Image from Good Morning America)
RuPaul (Image from Us Magazine)

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen, six-time Olivier Award winner and LGBTQ+ activist, first publicly said he was gay in 1988. 

30 years later, at 78, Sir Ian tweeted, “I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out – including myself. Life at last begins to make sense when you are open and honest.” 

In 1989, Sir Ian helped to found the LGBT rights charity, Stonewall.

Ellen DeGeneres

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres was praised by Obama for her influence on the gay rights movement when she received the country’s highest civilian honour.

Obama said it was easy to forget the risk DeGeneres took to come out as gay in 1997.

Furthermore, he said her bravery helped, “push our country in the direction of justice”.

Laverne Cox

Actress, television star, and renowned transgender advocate, Laverne Cox became well-known for her role in Netflix series, Orange is the New Black.

Cox became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in any acting category.

San Diego Pride Director, Fernando Lopez, said, “[Laverne’s] mission to eradicate homophobia, racism, sexism, and transphobia has been an inspiration to many.”


RuPaul Charles is arguably the most commercially successful drag queen in America.  

He currently hosts the famous reality TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, that searches for the next drag superstar.

Above all, RuPaul has encouraged thousands of people to embrace their self-expression by mainstreaming drag queen culture and homosexuality.

LGBTQ+ Musicians

Freddie Mercury (Image from The Guardian)
Lady Gaga (Image from Huffington Post)

Freddie Mercury

Queen’s Freddie Mercury never wanted to have an in-depth discussion about his sexuality with the public. 

However, it was well known that this rock icon had relationships with both men and women, and he did claim at one point to be bisexual.

In any case, Mercury’s outlandish persona and image certainly challenged gender conventions.

Mercury died from AIDS-related causes in 1991.

Queen members and their manager, Jim Beach, subsequently organised The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness.

The proceeds were used to launch The Mercury Phoenix Trust

Lady Gaga

As a bisexual woman, Lady Gaga actively supports LGBT rights worldwide.

Above all, Gaga attributes much of her early success to her gay fans and is considered a gay icon. 

Gaga has been an activist for multiple LGBTQ+ campaigns.

In 2010, The Advocate named her a “fierce advocate” for gays and lesbians.

LGBTQ+ Athletes

Michael Sam (Image from Out)
Nicola Adams (Image from Gay Times)
Jaiyah Saelua (Image from Alchetron)

Michael Sam

After completing his college football career, Sam publicly came out as gay.

As a result, Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL.

Sam works as a public activist for LGBT rights and anti-bullying campaigns.

Most importantly, “Being gay does not define me,” Sam said. “What defines me is my characteristics.”

Nicola Adams

As a female and bisexual boxer, Adams challenged gender stereotypes associated with her sport. 

Now, because of the two-time Olympic medalist’s success in bringing boxing to national prominence, there are facilities for girls to learn boxing. 

Jaiyah Saelua

American Samoan football player Jaiyah Saelua is the first transgender woman to play in the World Cup. 

“I’m proud to be transgender,” she said.

“The gay struggle is coming to an end, and it’s time for transgender women to play a part in the world.”

LGBTQ+ Pioneers

Alan Turing (Image from Habrador)
Sally Ride (Image from ThoughtCo)
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (Image from Wikipedia)

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was recently voted the greatest icon of the 20th Century for his work on the Enigma code breaker, which helped turn the Second World War.

Hailed as the godfather of modern computing, he was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen in 2013.

Sally Ride

Sally Ride was the first U.S woman in space, flying in the 7th Space shuttle mission in 1983.

After retiring from NASA she set up, Sally Ride Science, focusing on education and the promotion of engineering, technology, science and maths.

It was only after her death that it was revealed she was gay.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir 

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was Iceland’s first female Prime Minister (from 2009 -2013) and was the world’s first openly gay head of government.

Links to other Stuffer Pride articles

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