Shapers and Thought Leaders


The recognition of community success invites a wide perspective. We tend to view success on an individual basis and in context of the immediate moment. What if we view our LGBT community through a broad historical lens? What do we find? We find success in every discipline and significant contributions to all of humanity. I’d like to take a moment to appreciate a few of the most influential shapers of Western civilization, successful thought leaders whose impacts are felt hundreds if not thousands of years later. And guess what, they are our own. They are homos and bi’s, crossdressers and trannies who have shaped Western Civilization as we know it.

I ask you, can you imagine art without Michelangelo, Da Vinci, or Warhol? ҬPoetry without Sappho, Emerson, and Whitman? ҬMusic without Tchaikovsky or Cole Porter?ӬWhat is philosophy without Socrates, Aristotle, and Wittgenstein?

Mathematics and artificial intelligence without Alan Turing?Ӭ Or science without Francis Bacon?
ҬWhat would humanity be WITHOUT our greatest lesbian and gay contributors? ҬӬThe endeavours of the following homo- and bisexuals have shaped our thoughts, our feelings, our views of the world:

Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sappho, Tchaikovsky, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hadrian, Desiderius Erasmus, Francis Bacon, Frederick the Great, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde,Marcel Proust, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Rainer Maria Rilke, Federico Garcia Lorca, Cole Porter, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Bernstein, Pope Julius III, T.E. Lawrence, Jean Cocteau, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Jean Genet, Andy Warhol, Christopher Marlowe, Herman Melville, Richard the Lionhearted, Saladin, Charles Laughton, Marguerite Yourcenar, Horatio Alger, Jr., Willa Cather, Amy Lowell, E.M. Forster, John M. Keynes, Bessie Smith, Noel Coward, Christopher Isherwood, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Yukio Mishima, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, James I, Queen Anne, Melissa Etheridge, Pope Benedict IX, May Sarton, Edna Ferber, Elton John, Margaret Fuller, Montezuma II, Peter the Great, Langston Hughes, Pope John XII, Madame de Stael, Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Billie Jean King, Roberta Achtenburg, Barney Frank, Gerry Studds, Hans Christian Andersen, Tom Dooley, Frida Kahlo, Suleiman the Magnificent, Rock Hudson, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margarethe Cammermeyer, Zoe Dunning, J. Edgar Hoover, Tom Waddel, Kate Millet, Janis Joplin, Montgomery Clift, Rudolf Nuryev, Waslaw Nijinsky, Dag Hammerskjold, Paula Gunn Allen, Angela Davis, June Jordan, Baron VonSteuben, Edward II, and James Dean? (Fromgroup A Day Without A Gay on Facebook)

This list is not exhaustive, nor is it particularly current. I recognize most but not allour forebears, as diverse and controversial as some of them are. I just want to make a point that from within our own margins we find the most significant shapers of humanity. Why not view ourselves in this way. We are thought leaders. We areshapers of civilization. Our success is realizing the contributions we’ve made and continue to make to humanity, to our communities, and to our families. Let us not only recognize the success of, but stand on the shoulders of our own giants.

Who are we currently?dot429 is a great place to start

About The Author

Cynthia Vale is a budding scholar and doctoral student in Transformative Inquiry at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She writes the dot429 philosophy blog. You can reach Cynthia at

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