From statues to ships, how history’s gays have left their mark

GSN looks at how some of the greatest gay, lesbian and bisexual people in history have been remembered

From statues to ships, how history’s gays have left their mark
11 July 2012

With a gay rights activist having an asteroid named after him, GSN have been discussing what we’d like to have named after us. Call us grandiose, but for inspiration we’ve looked at gay people honored through history.

Here are the ones who stood out most in our gay family tree.

Alexander The Great

First is the gay man who’s held the most power. Alexander The Great, was Emperor of Ancient Greece from 336 to 323 BC. Under his rule, the Greek empire invaded Egypt and expanded into modern day India.

Alexander is usually remembered as the most powerful man with epilepsy – but in the rest of his personal life he married three times and had relationships with a number of men.

Lord Byron

On the literary side, Lord Byron (1788 to 1824), the most notorious romantic poet was openly bisexual. Byron fathered two children and slept with enough men and women out of marriage for historians to call his sexuality ‘a matter of controversy’.

Byron’s Cave in Portovenere, Italy, was named in his honor because it inspired some of Byron’s best poems. A statue of him stands in Athens, Greece, for his service in the Greek War of Independence (1821 to 1832).

Joan Baez

Musically, Joan Baez has had the Joan Baez Award named in her honor by Amnesty International. Baez was presented the award in 2011 for her outstanding work for global human rights.

Baez rose to fame with her self titled album in 1960. She briefly dated singer and songwriter Bob Dylan and Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Queen Anne

Having sat on the UK throne in the 17th century, Queen Anne (1665 to 1714) is the only royal whose sexuality has been questioned. Passionate letters to other women have been found, making historians discuss whether Anne was a lesbian.

Queen Anne’s War, a series of battles in the War of the Spanish Succession, was named in her honor by British forces.

Also, the world’s first copyright law, granting exclusive rights to authors was named the Statute of Anne, passed in 1710.

Simone de Beauvoir

Twentieth Century philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908 to 1986), author of famous feminist book The Second Sex is remembered in her home city, Paris.

The Passerelle Simone De Beauvoir bridge crosses the Seine river in the French capital. It opened in 2006.

Alan Turing

And finally in science and maths, Alan Turing (1912 to 1954) is the gay man best remembered for helping to defeat the Nazis by cracking their secret Enigma message code.

The mathematician also developed the study of computer science but commited suicide after being arrested and ‘treated’ for his sexuality in the 1950s.

The University of Surrey remembers Turing with a statue of him in the main piazza and the road to the University’s research park is named Alan Turing Road.

Harvey Milk

Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, has not only had a street in San Diego named after him, but is expected to be honored with a US Navy battleship in his namesake.

Milk served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for 11 months before he was assassinated in San Francisco in 1978.

Throughout his campaigns and even after his death, Harvey Milk proved instrumental in shifting gay rights into the national spotlight.

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