4 Influential LGBTQ+ Members throughout history

Names to remember…

Written by Georgia Chappell

February 2, 2021

lgbtq+ flag glitter fist pastel Missguided

Its LGBTQ+ History month. So, we wanted to showcase some important LGBTQ+ members who stood before and paved the way for people to live a free life, exactly the way they choose. From James Baldwin to Lili Elbe, Barbara Gittins to Marsha P. Johnson and many more people who have changed perceptions and rights for LGBTQ+ members everywhere. So, get your LGBTQ+ flags at the ready as we put some faces to the names you’ve probably heard of. It’s safe to say we wouldn’t be where we are without these people. Keep reading to find out more.

What does LGBTQ+ stand for?

This community term stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (or questioning their sexual identity). It’s so important to educate yourself regardless of your sexuality. We are all human and everyone deserves their right to love.

those who came before

James Baldwin

James was born in 1924 and swiftly became a novelist. Once James came to the realisation that he was gay, he began to feel smothered for being both gay and African American in a racist, homophobic America. He then decided to escape to France where he focused his writing around critiquing class structures and bringing attention to the inequalities of sexuality and race. He showcased the challenges black and LGBTQ+ members have to face every day, just for being themselves. This made him an important voice to be heard for the black and LGBTQ+ community. His book, ‘Nobody Knows My Name’ discusses these issues further. James Baldwin sadly died in 1987 at the age of 63 but his never-ending work to change the perception of the black and LGBTQ+ communities will live on.


Lili was born 136 years ago and is best known for undergoing one of the first-known gender-affirming surgical processes. She was originally married to Gerda Gottlieb and they were both obsessed with art. When one of Gottlieb’s models failed to show, she asked Elbe to wear stockings and heels so she could continue her portraits lower half. That’s where Elbe realised that she “felt very much at home”. In 1912, they moved to Paris where Elbe continued to live as a woman. After many gender-affirming surgeries, Elbe had an operation consisting of vaginoplasty and a uterus implant in 1931. Unfortunately, her immune system rejected the uterus, resulting in an infection. On September 13th, 1931, Lili Elbe died due to an infection at 48 years old. “The Danish Girl” based on Elbe’s life was adapted into a movie in 2015 allowing her story to educate and inspire.

Barbara Gittings

In an era where it was dangerous to be ‘out’, Barbara was a prominent American LGBTQ+ rights activist and was heavily involved in promoting all of the positive literature about homosexuality in libraries to raise awareness and educate. In 1964 she wrote an editorial which blasted medical reports that described homosexuality as a disease. She wrote that this treated lesbians as “curious specimens” rather than humans. She was a well-known member of the American Psychiatric Association movement to drop homosexuality as a mental illness in 1972. She met her partner, Kay Tobin in 1961 and were together for 46 years. Sadly, the pair were never allowed to get married as the same-sex marriage ban in America was only lifted in 2015. Barbara passed away in 2007 after a long and hard battle with breast cancer.


Marsha P. Johnson co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. This was the first organisation ran by trans women of colour, where they provided shelter for LGBTQ+ individuals. At this time, being gay was classified as a mental illness in the US. Gay people were often threatened and beaten by police, and were outcasted by many people in society. Marsha said the P in her name stood for ‘pay it no mind’ – a phrase that she would constantly use to shield negative comments on her life and choices. In June 1969, when Marsha was just 23, police raided a gay bar in New York, where they forced over 200 people out of the bar and on the streets, and then proceeded to use excessive violence against them. Marsha was one of the key members who stood up to the police and continued to lead protests and riots demanding rights for gay people. Marsha went missing in 1992 with police finding her body just 6 days later. They claimed nobody had been responsible for her death, but friends argued that attacks on gay and trans people were common. Marsha leads a life of determination, courage and bravery and for that, she has inspired many future generations.

For even more important news, fashion advice, lifestyle and trending topics check back to Babezine for your daily scoop. Make a difference by donating or volunteering at MindOut – a mental health charity for LGBTQ+ members.