Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

LGBTQ+ Youth & Adult Resources: History

Books, groups, healthcare, movies, and more for those who are Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Two-Spirit, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer and their allies.

LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History Edited by Megan E. Springate

LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History is a publication of the National Park Foundation for the National Park Service and funded by the Gill Foundation. Written by experts in the field, it consists of 32 chapters and over 1200 pages that cover different aspects of LGBTQ Studies. These topics cover LGBTQ history in the United States, the preservation of LGBTQ heritage, intersectionality, transgender history, the importance of people of color in the community, LGBTQ spaces and places, religion, sports, art, and more. Visit the National Park Service's website to read the entire document for free.

Related BPL Research Guides

The LGBTQ History of Boston

The History Project

The mission of The History Project is to document and preserve the history of Boston's LGBT community, and to share that information with the public.

For a more extensive look at Boston's LGBTQ history in the early 1970s, visit the Boston Globe article: "How Boston Powered the Gay Rights Movement."

Drag Queen Sylvia Sidney in 1945

1947 - Sylvia Sidney

Sylvia Sidney, Boston's most infamous drag queen, performs onstage circa 1947 at the age of 17, long before the explosion of the gay rights movement in the '70s. Sylvia Sidney, or Sidney Sushman, was active in Boston's gay nightlife scene for five decades.

Photo Credit: The History Project

Poster declaring: sunday26april THE GAY LIBERATION DANCE &catfishblack! A dance for humanity: gay, straight -- we are all One. Come together. Go to Harvard Free U. in Lawrence Hall, 9 pm. Donations accepted!

1970 - First Liberation Dance

The Student Homophile League holds their first Liberation Dance at the Harvard Free University in Lawrence Hall, an abandoned building scheduled for demolition.

Photo credit: The History Project

Several women standing and sitting on the bandstand holding posters that say I Feel good lesbian and alive!

1970 - Lesbian Rights Rally

Women participate in a lesbian rights rally at the Boston Commons Parkman Bandstand.

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, the Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

Women and men marching down the street, several of them smiling at the camera. One woman's t-shirt says

1975 - Back Bay Parade

A gay pride parade is held in Back Bay.

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

A black woman in bell bottoms, two white women, and three white men carry a banner that says

1975 - Back Bay Parade

Banners are held at the Back Bay gay pride parade, demanding legal equality.

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

A row of women hold up a banner that says

1975 - Back Bay Parade

The lesbian contingent at the Back Bay gay pride parade display a banner quoting Mao Zedong: "Women hold up half the sky."

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

Barney Frank's profile as he speaks into a microphone, addressing a sea of people in front of him.

1976 - Barney Frank Speaks Out

Prominent gay politician Barney Frank  addresses the crowd at a gay pride rally at the Parkman Bandstand in the Boston Commons.

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

People stand around talking to one another in front of Trinity Church in Copley Square. A half-cut off banner reads

1976 - Gay Unity is Gay Strength

"Gay Unity is Gay Strength" is the theme for the 1976 Gay Pride Parade at Copley Square.

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe, 'Wicked Proud: How Boston Has Been Celebrating Gay Pride for 45 Years'

A line of smiling people carry a purple banner reading

1977 - Commonwealth Ave Parade

A gay pride parade marches on Commonwealth Ave.

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

Seven drag queens pose for the camera, one with her hand on her hip. One of them is wearing a large white and pink feathered hat, and they are all wearing large wigs.

1977 - Copley Square Rally

Female impersonators pose as they carry a gay pride sign at a rally held in Copley Square.

Photo Credit: Spencer Grant, Spencer Grant Collection at Boston Public Library

Elaine Noble turns away from the microphone and the crowd of people she is addressing to smile at the camera.

1977 - Elaine Noble

Elaine Noble, the first openly gay state representative in the nation, speaks at a 1977 gay rights rally at the Boston Common.

Photo Credit: Stan Grossfeld, Boston Globe, "How Boston Powered the Gay Rights Movement"

Members of the Dignity/Boston are shown marching with signs in the 1978 Gay Pride March. Some of the signs read:

1978 - Dignity/Boston at Boston Pride

Dignity/Boston, an organization for GLBT Catholics formed during the Gay Liberation movement that followed the Stonewall Riots, bears signs during the 1978 Gay Pride March.

Photo Credit: Ken Rall, The History Project

A group of men and women from Black and White Men Together march in the street with a banner reading:

1978 - Black and White Men Together Protest

Men of All Colors Together, the Boston chapter of the National Association of Black and White Men Together, declares "Lesbians and Gays Say No to Nazis and the Klan" in protest of racial and societal inequalities.

Photo Credit: The History Project

People fill the streets, some carrying circular signs that each bear a different letter: G, A, Y,  S, and F. (Presumably part of a

1982 - It's a Nice Day to Be Out

"It's a Nice Day to Be Out" is the theme for the 1982 Gay Pride Parade.

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe, 'Wicked Proud: How Boston Has Been Celebrating Gay Pride for 45 Years'

Three women, including two women of color, play triangles with other drummers marching behind them through a crowded street.

1983 - The Batucada Belles

The Batacuda Belles, an all-women percussion troupe that plays the Brazilian-inspired batucada samba, performs in the 1983 Boston Pride March.

Photo Credit: Susan Bernstein, The History Project

People march down the street, several of them carrying a banner that reads

1983 - AIDS Action Committee

Members of the AIDS Action Committee, the oldest and largest community-based health organization, march for a rally titled "Stepping Out with Pride."

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe, 'Wicked Proud: How Boston Has Been Celebrating Gay Pride for 45 Years'

Members of the AIDS Action Committee carry a banner that says

1985 - How Many More Must Die?

At the 1985 Gay Pride Parade, The AIDS Action Committee hold a banner and signs dating the deaths of community members.

Photo Credit: Janet Knott, The Boston Globe

George Nolley, co-chair of Men of All Colors Together, with a panel for the Names Project AIDS quilt commemorating the life of Michael O'Leary (1949-1986), one of the group's members, signed by Men of all Colors Together Boston.

1987 - NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

The co-chair of Men of All Colors Together, George Nolley, poses with a piece of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, commemorating member Michael O'Leary.

Photo Credit: Laura Wulf, The History Project

Two women kiss during the 1987 pride parade.

1987 - Out for Good

A couple kiss at the 1987 "Out for Good" Pride Parade.

Photo Credit: Tom Herde, The Boston Globe

Two parade members hug one another over a banner during the parade at the Boston Common.

1988 - Rightfully Proud

Marchers enter the Boston Common for the 1988 parade, themed "Rightfully Proud."

Photo Credit: Suzanne Kreiter, The Boston Globe

People fill the streets during the 1989 parade. Visible signs read

1989 - A Generation of Pride

Celebrators flood Beacon Street for the 1989 parade theme: "A Generation of Pride."

Photo Credit: Wendy Maeda, The Boston Globe

A group of Latina women hold a sign that says

1990 - Lesbianas Latinas at Boston Pride

Members of Lesbianas Latinas (LESLA), an organization formed in 1986, march with a LESLA banner on Charles Street in Beacon Hill during the 1990 Boston Pride march.

Photo Credit: Susan Fleischmann, The History Project

Two Latino men pose for the camera as they carry a banner that reads

1991 - Club Antorcha

Club Antorcha, originally Latinos Unidos, works to expand the visibility of Latino gay men in Boston with their motto: "Illuminating Our History, Lighting the Present, a Beacon into the Future."

Photo Credit: Susan Fleischmann, The History Project

Several members of the AIDS Action Committee cheer and wave flags during the parade on Beacon Street, where they are surrounded by balloons and carry an

1991 - Together in Pride

The AIDS Action Committee joins the 1991 "Together in Pride" parade on Beacon Street.

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe, 'Wicked Proud: How Boston Has Been Celebrating Gay Pride for 45 Years'

Rows of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple balloons arc over the heads of marchers.

1993 - Family of Pride

Rainbow balloons are featured in the 1993 "Family of Pride" celebration.

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe, 'Wicked Proud: How Boston Has Been Celebrating Gay Pride for 45 Years'

Two costumed marchers laugh and pose for the camera, one dressed in resplendent peacock feathers, blue and gold sequins, and a Brazil banner, while the other wears a giant red ballgown and carries a bouquet and white parasol.

1996 - Pride Without Borders

Marchers show off their costumes for the "Pride Without Borders" parade.

Photo Credit: Pam Berry, The Boston Globe

Famous Faces

Janet Mock

Janet Mock

Transgender author and activist

 

Raven Symone

Raven Symone

Lesbian actress, comedian, and singer

Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner

Lesbian WNBA 
basketball player

Michael Sam

Michael Sam

Gay NFL football player

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper

Gay television personality, journalist, and author

Ian McKellen

Ian McKellan

Gay actor

BD Wong

B.D. Wong

Gay actor

Don Lemon

Don Lemon

Gay television personality and journalist

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury

Bisexual singer and songwriter
1946-1991

George Takei

George Takei

Gay actor, director, and author

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox

Transgender actress, producer, and activist

Elliot Fletcher

Elliot Fletcher

Transgender actor

Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

Gay singer, actor, and author

Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown

Bisexual writer, feminist, and activist

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman

LGB Singer and songwriter

Alice Walker

Alice Walker

Bisexual novelist, poet, and political activist

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow

Lesbian political television host and author

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard

Transvestite (self-identified) stand-up comedian and actor

Angel Haze

Angel Haze

Pansexual, agender rapper and singer

Ruby Rose

Ruby Rose

Genderfluid, lesbian actress, model, and DJ

Sappho

Sappho

Lesbian poet
630-570 BC

Sculpture from Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera

Transgender activist
1951-2002

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde

Lesbian writer, feminist, and activist
1934-1992

Keith Haring

Keith Haring

Gay artist
1958-1990

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Bisexual vedette, singer, and entertainer
1906-1975

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Bisexual artist
1907-1954

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Bisexual First Lady
1884-1962

Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey

Bisexual blues singer
1886-1939

Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal

Bisexual writer
1925-2012

James Baldwin

James Baldwin

Gay writer
1924-1987

Angela Davis

Angela Davis

Lesbian political activist, academic scholar, and author

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry

Lesbian playwright and writer
1930-1965

Maude Fealy

Maude Fealy

Lesbian or bisexual silent film star
1883-1971

Eva Le Gallienne

Eva Le Gallienne

Lesbian stage actress, producer, director, and author
1899-1991

LGBTQ People: From Ancient Days to Modern Times

Many people, from the ones you study in history class to the ones you read about online are members of the LGBTQ community. Here is an abridged list of LGBTQ individuals from all walks of life who went on to do amazing things: 

ANCIENTS:

Socrates / Greek Philosopher, 400 BC

Sappho / Greek Woman Poet, 600 BC

Aristotle / Greek Philosopher, 384-322 BC

CLASSICAL:

Michelangelo / Italian Artist, 15th C

Leonardo Da Vinci / Italian Artist and Scientist, 15th C

Christopher Marlowe / English Playwright, 16th C

RULERS:

Alexander the Great / Macedonian Ruler, 300 BC

Peter the Great / Russian Czar, 17th-18th C

Frederick the Great / King of Prussia

MILITARY:

Tammy Smith / US Army General

Reichen Lehmkuhl / US Air Force Officer

Gary Ross / US Navy Officer

Dan Choi / US Army Officer

ACTIVISTS:

Bayard Rustin / US Civil Rights Activist w MLK

Angela Davis / US Political Activist

Susan B. Anthony / Women’s Suffrage Activist

BUSINESS/ECONOMICS:

Tim Cook / CEO of Apple Computers

John M. Keynes / English Economist

Robert Hanson / CEO of American Eagle Outfitters

WRITERS:

Hans Christian Andersen / Danish Author

James Baldwin / US Author

Langston Hughes / US Author

Herman Melville / US Author

Maurice Sendak / US Writer

Gertrude Stein / US Poet and Author

 

Alice B. Toklas / US Author

P.L. Travers / English Writer (Mary Poppins)

Walt Whitman / US Poet and Author

Oscar Wilde / Irish Author

Tennessee Williams / US Playwright

Virginia Woolf / English Author

NEWS/MEDIA:

Rachel Maddow / US News Commentator (MSNBC)

Anderson Cooper / US Newscaster (CNN)

Don Lemon / US News Anchor (CNN)

Robin Roberts / US Talk Show Host (Good Morning America)

Janet Mock / US Magazine Editor (People.Com)

MUSICIANS:

Cole Porter / US Composer

Leonard Bernstein / US Composer

Peter Tchaikovsky / Russian Composer

Elton John / English Rock Star

George Michael / English Pop Star

 

Janis Joplin / US Singer

Liberace / US Pianist and Entertainer

Tracy Chapman / US Musician

Lance Bass / US Musician (N’Sync)

Brandi Carlisle / US Musician

Clay Aiken / US Musician (American Idol)

Ricky Martin / US Pop Star

ARTISTS/DANCERS:

Andy Warhol / US Artist

Keith Haring / US Painter

Annie Leibovitz / US Photographer

Frida Kahlo / Mexican Painter

Robert Mapplethorpe / US Photographer

Josephine Baker / US Dancer

Isaac Mizrahi / US Fashion Designer

ACTORS / ENTERTAINERS:

James Dean / US Film Actor

Ellen Degeneres / US Actor and Comedian

Lily Tomlin / US Actor and Comedian

B.D. Wong / US Actor

Margaret Cho / US Comedian

George Takei / US Actor (Star Trek)

Lindsey Lohan / US Movie Actor

Ellen Page / US Movie Actor (Juno)

 

Neil Patrick Harris / US Television Actor (Doogie Howser)

Wanda Sykes / US Comedian and Actor

John Barrowman / US and UK Actor

Laverne Cox / US Trans TV Actor (Orange is the New Black)

Chris Colfer / US Television Actor (Glee)

Jim Parsons / US Television Actor (Big Bang Theory)

Gillian Anderson / US TV Actor (X Files)

Raven Symone / US TV Actor (Cosby Show)

POLITICS:

Eleanor Roosevelt / US Stateswoman

Harvey Milk / US Politician

Barney Frank / US Congressman (MA)

Tammy Baldwin / US Congresswomen (WI)

Jim McGreevey / New Jersey Governor

Sam Adams / Portland OR Mayor

David Cicilline / Providence RI Mayor

 

 

ATHLETES:

Martina Navratilova / US Tennis Player

Greg Louganis / US Olympic Swimmer

Abby Wamback / Olympic Soccer Player

Brian Boitano / US Olympic Figure Skater

Tom Daily / British Olympic Diver

 

Jason Collins / US NBA Basketball Player

Michael Sam / US NFL Football Player

Billie Jean King / US Tennis Player

Orlando Cruz / Puerto Rican Boxer

Belle Brockhoff / US Olympic Snowboarder

Sheryl Swoopes / US WNBA Basketball Player

SCIENCE/RESEARCH/PHILOSOPHY:

Alfred Kinsey / Researcher, Father of Sexology (1894-1956)

Alan Turing / British Mathematician (1912-1954)

Michael Foucault / French Philosopher, Sociologist, and Educator (1926-1984)

Sally Ride / American Physicist and Astronaut (1951-2012)

List courtesy of ALGBTICAL