Guest Blogger

The Top 25 Things That Owe Their Existence to the LGBT Community

Filed By Guest Blogger | January 07, 2013 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: gay history, top 25 things

Editors' Note: Jeremy Redlien is the creator of the bigstock-Number-twenty-five-26348108.jpgblog Queering the Closet where he writes philosophical articles (mostly) on LGBTQ issues and does reviews of queer films. He is also the creator of the webcomic The Amazing Sassy about the dog Sassy and her human companion Jack, who is being rasied by two moms.

Thanks to the feedback and critique that I received regarding The Top 20 Things That Owe Their Existence to Queers (or at least a hearty thanks) after I posted it to The Bilerico Project, plus additional research I've done since then, I was able to expand it into a new list:

The Top 25 Things that Owe Their Existence to the LGBTQ Community (or at least a hearty thanks) They're all after the break.

25 - World Organization of the Scout Movement Queer to thank: Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell

Lord Baden-Powell founded the Scout Movement in the early part of the 20th century, which grew to become the global phenomenon most people are familiar with today. Ironically, given the current positions of the Boy Scouts of America, several biographers, most notably Tim Jeal in The Boy-Man: The Life of Lord Baden Powell, have concluded that Powell was gay.

24 - Baseball Queers to Thank: Glen Burke, Nate Silver, Christina Kahrl

Glenn Burke was the first gay man who played professional baseball and who come out while playing in the Major Leagues. He left a lasting impression on the sport after he popularized the ritual of high-fiving following a home run.

Nate Silver and Christina Kahrl are both promoters of sabermetrics or the advanced use of statistical data to analyze Baseball players, which has helped revolutionize the sport. Nate Silver (who is openly gay) famously used the same sabermetric models he created for baseball to correctly predict the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Christina Kahrl was the first openly trans woman to be accepted to the Baseball Writers Association of America, the organization that votes on which individuals will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

23 - Hull House, The Settlement Movement Queer to Thank: Jane Adams

Jane Adams was the first woman to be awarded the Noble Prize, which was given to her in part for her work on the Hull House, the first settlement house, which was established in 1989.

The Settlement Movement was the first major anti-poverty program and was designed to work by having the rich and poor living in close quarters.

22 - Copernicus' Model of the Solar System Queer to thank: Georg Joachim Rheticus

Nicolaus Copernicus developed the heliocentric model of the solar system, which still happens to be viewed as true today, despite the best efforts of the Flat Earth Society. In any case, Copernicicus' work could have been lost, if it had not been for the efforts of Georg Joachim Rheticus. Copernican scholar Edward Rosen posited, "Is it going too far to claim that without Rheticus, no Copernicus, without Copernicus, no moving Earth, and without geodynamic astonomy, no modern science?" In 1551, Rheticus was accused of trying to seduce a 17-year-old male, which resulted in Rheticus being exiled from Leipzig for 101 years.

21 - Sexuality of the Human Male, Sexuality of the Human Female, Coming of Age in Samoa, Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies Queers to thank: Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Mead

Combined, the above works led directly to what is referred to as the Sexual Revolution, a cultural phenomenon whose fallout is still being felt today. It probably should not come as much of a shock that both of these individuals were bisexual. Kinsey experimented with sexual relationships with both sexes. Mead herself was married three times and letters published after Mead's death revealed that she had an intimate relationship with Rhoda Metraux.

20 - The British Broadcasting Corporation Queer to thank: John Reith, 1st Baron Reith

John Reith played a critical role in the formation of the BBC, so much so that the term Reithian became a word, describing his particular management style. The BBC model that Reith pionered - based around his summary of what the BBC's mission should be, Inform, Educate, Entertain - also influenced other broadcast organizations such as PBS.

Reith himself was intimately involved with a man named Charlie Bowser: The depth and intimacy of the relationship was revealed in Reith's diaries when they were analyzed by Ian McIntyre.

19 - Modern Architecture Queer to Thank: Ralph Adams Cram

Ralph Adams Cram was among the most influential architects at the beginning of the 20th century. A proponent of the gothic style, he made the cover of Time magazine in December 1936 and is honored by the Episcopal Church on December 16 with a feast day.

While he married Elizabeth Carrington Read in 1900, he was also part of the Boston Bohemians, an early social group for gays and lesbians.

18 - Keynesian Economics Queer to Thank: John Maynard Keynes

Keynesian Economics, first presented in the 1936 book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes, has profoundly influenced economic theory ever since. Keynesian Economics was the reason for the controversial stimulus plans backed by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Keynes was always open about his sexuality and the numerous affairs he had with men.

17 - Peanuts, Soybeans, Pecans, Sweet Potatoes Queer to thank: George Washington Carver

Here is an exercise for anybody reading this list. Go to your fridge or any cabinet in your house. Pick an item at random. Chances are, the item you are now holding would not exist in its current form if it were not for the work of George Washington Carver, a black man born in 1864 Missouri. Carver is credited with developing hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes. He also developed or popularized uses for such products as diverse as shaving cream, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonaise, meat tenderizer, shoe polish, talcum powder, cosmetics, and synthetic rubber.

By promoting peanuts, soybeans, pecan trees, and sweet potatoes as alternative crops, Carver helped save agriculture in the south, as these products restored soil nutrients lost thanks to cotton farming, with monopolized farmland at the time.

Carver is thought to have been intimate with Austin W. Curtis, Jr.

16 - Eradication of Tuberculosis Queer to thank: Alan L. Hart

In the early Twentieth Century, tuberculosis was the number one killer in the Unites States. Today, less than 10 percent of the U.S. population typically test positive for the disease and for those that are found to be infected, the chances of survival are dramatically better than they were 100 years ago. This can be attributed in part to the efforts of Alan L. Hart, who innovated numerous ways of detecting and treating the disease. Early detection methods pionered by Hart, such as using x-ray screenings, also helped prevent the disease from infecting more patients since doctors could quarantine those individuals found to have tuberculosis. His efforts are credited with helping to contain TB and therefore saving thousands of lives.

Born Alberta Lucille Hart, Alan L. Hart was among the first female-to-male transsexuals in the U.S. to have a hysterectomy and gonadectomy performed on himself.

15 - Abolition of Slavery (United States) Queer to thank: Abraham Lincoln Honorable Mentions: Susan B. Anthony, Alexander Hamilton

Although slavery would not be abolished entirely in the Unites States until the passage of the 13th Amendment, it was Abraham Lincoln who first wrote the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves on a large scale. Without the Emancipation Proclamation or Lincoln's leadership during the Amercan Civil War, the North could have lost and slavery would probably have continued in the Confederacy.

Lincoln wrote one of the earliest explicit gay themed poems in American Literature and shared a bed with Captain David V. Derickson, who was the head of his guards.

Other notable queers involved in the abolishment were suffragette Susan B. Anthony and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton even used Britain's support for slavery as one reason for the colonies seceding from Great Britain.

14 - Woman's Suffrage Queer to Thank: Susan B. Anthony Honorable Mentions, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, Nancy Cook, Jane Addams, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Charley Parkhurst, Eva Gore-Booth

Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, one of the earliest organizations dedicated to woman's rights in the United States. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton originally wrote the original draft of what would eventually become the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads as follows: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

Other notable members of the suffrage movement include Anthony's lover, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson as well as Nancy Cook, who became the intimate of Eleanore Roosevelt.

Trivia: It is thought that Charley Parkhurst was possibly the first female to vote in the United States. Parkhurst was stagecoach driver in California and after his death in 1879, it was discovered that Parkurst was not biologically male.

13 - The Napoleonic Code Queer to thank: Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès Honorable Mention: Napoleon Bonaparte

The Napoleonic Code was written by Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, who was open about his sexuality and preference for men. The Napoleonic Code is one of the most influential documents of the modern era. Napoleon biographer Robert Holtman declared in his The Napoleonic Revolution that The Napoleonic Code was among the few documents to have changed the entire world.

The code was originally enacted in the European territories that Napoleon had conquered. Specifically, the Napoleonic Code forbade special privileges based upon birthright, secret or unpublished laws, special laws that applied to specific incidents, and ex post facto laws (laws written and applied to events that have already occurred). Just as importantly, The Napoleonic Code reformed judicial procedures and the treatment of criminals.

As for the Emperor himself, he was rumored to have had many male lovers among his aides, guards, and fellow soldiers. According to biographer Evangiline Bruce, Napoleon once wrote a note declaring that whenever he met a good looking man, Napoleons feelings were felt "first in the loins and in another place I will leave unnamed."

12 - Helicopters, Modern Aviation Queers to thank: Leonardo da Vinci, Howard Hughes

Leonardo da Vinci was the legendary Renaissance artist who was arrested twice following accusations that he had engaged in same sex activity. Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, who inherited the Mona Lisa, had an unusually close and suggestive relationship with the da Vinci. However, one possibility regarding who the real life subject of the Mona Lisa was provides a scintillating clue here. This proposal put forth by Susan Dorothea White, has that the Mona Lisa was actually a self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci in drag. Also, Keith Stern claims that an article published in the April 1995 edition of Scientific America described a computer scan that came to that conclusion as well.

As for helicopters, Leonardo da Vinci designed many fantastical mechanical devices, but unfortunately the materials necessary for those devices to actually work were not created until many years after his death. One such device was a primitive helicopter, with Leonardo's design used as the inspiration for the modern flying contraption.

Howard Hughes was the producer and director for The Outlaw a movie filled with homoerotic subtexts (and Jane Russell's bosoms). In her autobiography, Greta Keller claimed that Hughes engaged in a sexual relationship with her husband, David Bacon. Bette Davis who had a sexual relationship with Hughes, claimed that Hughes frequently liked to fantasize that she was a man.

Howard Hughes is credited with many aviation innovations and set several world records flying air-planes that he had commissioned. Hughes was awarded multiple aviation awards, in addition to the Congressional Gold Medal in 1939 for his contributions to the industry.

11 - Libraries Queer to thank: Ashurbanipal Honorable Mentions: Alexander the Great

Ashurbanipal was one of the last king of Syria and created a vast, well organized library of cuneiform writings. The works within were grouped by subject matter, a unique innovation for the time period. This library was so expansive that it inspired Alexander the Great to create his own, and thus eventually leading to the creation of the great Library of Alexandria by Ptolemy following Alexander's death.

Ashurbanipal is documented to have enjoyed dressing in woman's clothing.

10 - The computer you are reading this list on Queer to thank: Alan Turring Honorable Mentions: Lynn Conway, Mary Ann Horton, Sophie Wilson, Audrey Tang, Kate Craig-Wood

Alan Turing was an early pioneer in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence. His work included developing the Turing Test, which is intended to test if a computer has achieved human level sentience. He also helped design the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) which was the first computer built in Great Britain. Turing's numerous accomplishments have lead many to declare him the father of the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence.

Tragically, Alan Turing was convicted for committing "homosexual acts" and sentenced to probation as well as chemical castration. This punishment is thought to have led to him committing suicide in 1954 at the age of 41.

Lynn Conway is a computer engineer who first worked at IBM, but was fired in 1968 when she under went transitional surgery. She is credited with having developed numerous computer science innovations, whose names make no sense to me, such as generalised dynamic instruction handling and Mead & Conway revolution in VLSI design.

Mary Ann Horton is a computer scientist and trans activist whose innovations aided the developement of Usenet and later the Internet itself.

Sophie Wilson is a trans woman who designed the Acorn Micro Computer.

Audrey Tang, who transitioned from a man to a woman in 2005, is a Taiwanese free software programmer, who taught herself Perl at age 12 and is considered to be one of the "ten greats of Taiwanese computing."

Kate Craig-Wood is a British innovater, co-founder and managing director of Memset, the first British carbon neutral ISP. She is a proponent of greater energy efficiency in electronic technology. Kate Craig-Wood transitioned in 2005.

9 - Christianity Queer to thank: Alexander the Great Honorable Mentions: Desideririus Erasmus, Théodore de Bèze, King James I

The exploits of Alexander the Great, who was lovers with Hephaestion, are legendary. Most people know that he conquered "The Known World" spreading Greek Culture as he went. What many people, outside of historians, are not so aware of is that the Hellenization (as Alexander's spread of Greek Culture is referred to) later helped ease the subsequent growth and spread of Christianity.

Desideririus Erasmus was the controversial writer/editor behind several influential editions of both the Old and New Testaments. Erasmus's writings also included many letters to his fellow monk, Servatius Roger, that were highly suggestive and included phrases like, "you are half my soul... I have wooed you both unhappily and relentlessly." Roger's responses were usually more along the lines of, "what is wrong with you?"

Théodore de Bèze was a follower of John Calvin and played an important role in the Protostant Reformation. After the death of John Calvin, Bèze succeded Calvin as the leader of the reformation. Bèze was also criticized for a relationship he had with a young man, Audebert, whom Bèze wrote numerous love poems.

King James I, the man responsible for the King James Bible, had a secret passage that linked his royal bedchambers with those of George Villiers, with whom it was thought that King James I was intimate with. King James I was also rumored/thought to have been intimate with others, including male courtiers, Robert Carr, and Esmé Stewart.

8 - The Great March on Washington, The Civil Rights Movement Queers to thank: Bayard Rustin Honorable Mentions: Alain LeRoy Locke, Langston Hughes, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, Alice Walker

Bayard Rustin was the chief organizer behind the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Rustin was also a highly influential advisor to King and was the individual responsible for convincing King to adopt non-violence as a key strategy. Rustin was open about his sexuality and in 1986 gave a speech entitled "The New Niggers Are Gays".

Other important contributions to the Civil Rights Movement came from Alain LeRoy Locke, Langston Hughes, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker.

7 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Queer to thank: Eleanore Roosevelt

Eleanore Roosevelt chaired the committee that drafted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has proven enormously influential on international law and U.N. policy since it was first adopted. Roosevelt also campaigned heavily for the formation of the United Nations and founded the UN Association of the United States for that purpose.

Roosevelt is thought to have been intimate with suffragette Nancy Cook.

6 - [Insert title of any major, significant, or popular work of art here] Very short list of queers to thank: William Shakespeare, Sapho, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, Graham Chapin, Cole Porter, James Ivory, Roland Emmerich, Elton John, Langston Hughes, Dee Palmer, Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, Rupaul, Lady Gaga, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Lorraine Hansberry, Countee Cullen, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Octavia E. Butler, Billie Holiday, Jacqueline Woodson, Wanda Sykes, Bill T. Jones, Zora Neale Hurston, E. Lynn Harris, Alvin Ailey, Pedro Almodóvar, Charlie Anders, Molly Cutpurse, Candy Darling, Harisu, Dana International, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Terre Thaemlitz, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Jin Xing, Antonia San Juan, Witi Ihimaera, Bessie Smith, Sylvester James, Walt Whitman

Within early every artistic form, genre, and work, from the highbrow films of James Ivory to the lowbrow sci-fi action pornos of Roland Emmerich, to the pop songs of Lady Gaga, there is probably not a single work of art that does not owe some debt to some LGBTQ individual, somewhere. If a work of art was not created with our direct input, then it was probably somehow inspired by some other work that was.

5 - U.S. Constitution Queer to thank: Alexander Hamilton Honorable Mention: Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Although the Federalist Papers were written anonymously, historians generally attribute their primary authorship to Alexander Hamilton. The purpose of the Federalist Papers was to argue that the U.S. Constitution should be ratified by the states. Alexander Hamilton was possibly an intimate of John Laurens, to whom Hamilton wrote, "I wish, Dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by action rather than words, to convince you that I love you."

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was an important military leader in the Revolutionary War, who helped General Washington install discipline into the entire Continental Army. A hero of the American Revolution, Steuben came to America and the aid of General Washington after he was accused of "improper relations" in his homeland of Prussia. Steuben was thought to have been the intimate of John H. Mulligan, William North, and Ben Walker.

4 - Philosophy Queers to thank: Socrates, Plato Honorable Mentions: Marsilo Ficino, Francis Bacon, Francesco Algaratti, Goerge Santayana, Gerald Heard, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Ram Dass, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Hazel Barnes, Marquis de Sade, Simone de Beauvoir, Allan Bloom, Judith Butler, Alain LeRoy Locke, Peter Gomes, Saint Anselm, Audre Lorde, Jane Addams, Didier Eribon, Raewyn Connell, Deirdre McCloskey

Thales may be credited as being the "first" western Philosopher, but it was Socrates, along with his student Plato, took it to the next level. So radical and offensive were the notions of Socrates to the ancient Athenians, that he was pretty much the Marilyn Manson of their society. After Socrates was put to death following accusations of corrupting the Athenian youth and questioning the existence of the Gods, Plato fled Athens in disgust, before returning to found the original Academia.

Socrates and Plato are also thought to have been lovers, in addition to their relationship of teacher and student. Plato argues in the Symposium that same sex love is the highest form of love of all.

3 - Calculus, Various Mathematical Theories Queer to thank: Isaac Newton Honorable Mentions: Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Alan Turing

Granted, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz developed Calculus at the same time, so maybe Calculus does not owe it's existence to Newton per se. However, Leibniz's and Newton's versions of Calculus differed on several points, so Calculus can be said to at least owe a debt and a hearty thanks to both. Isaac Newton also developed an early way of calculating the roots of a function and made many other independent and significant contributions to the field of Mathematics.

Isaac Newton is believed to have been intimate with Fatio de Duillier and Newton became depressed when Duillier moved out/broke up with him in 1693.

Other important mathematical theories were developed by Andrey Nicolaevich Kolmogorov and Alan Turring.

Anyone who thinks that woman cannot compete with men on the same level with regards to mathematics should read the story of Sofia Kovalevskaya. What makes her notable was that Sofia Kovalevskaya was forbidden from studying mathematics in Russia, due to her gender. Outside of Russia, Sofia Kovalevskaya was forced to obtain alternative means to obtain advanced degrees, as the university where she was studying would not even allow her to audit classes. Her contributions to the field of mathematics include the discover of the Kovalevsky Top and the Cauchy-Kovalevski theorem.

2 - Modern Science Queers to thank: Isaac Newton Honorable Mentions: Alexander von Humboldt, Count Justus von Liebig, Alan Turing, Georg Joachim Rheticus

Isaac Newton did not develop calculus on a whim, he did it to help with his work creating the 3 Laws of Physics that bear his name. Newton's theories held until Einstein came along and made everything relative. Physicists and Engineers still rely on Newton's equations in situations involving the macro universe and speed not approaching the speed of light. Furthermore, Einstein could not have developed his theories without the previous work of Newton.

Count Justus von Liebig developed the modern chemistry lab set up that is still used today which will be familiar to anyone who took chemistry in high-school.

1 - Democracy Queer to thank: Solon of Athens Honorable Mention: Alexander the Great

Solon of Athens is credited with instituting legal reforms that helped pave the way for the development of democracy in Ancient Athens. Solon was also known to have composed poems expressing his love for boys.

The Hellenization brought about Alexander the Great also helped with the spread of Democracy.


Sources Keith Stern's "Queers in History, The Comprehnsive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders"

Wikipedia's List of transgender people List of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people

George Washington Carver was gay. . . and other bits of lgbt black history you probably didn't know

(Top 25 graphic via Bigstock)


Recent Entries Filed under Gay Icons and History:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.