70 voters

The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time

Updated July 5, 2018 617 votes 70 voters50 items

List RulesVote up the LGBTQ+ individuals who made the biggest mark on the world.

From writers to philosophers to activists, there are plenty of LGBTQ+ thinkers whose thoughts and ideas have shaped the world over the years. These individuals were hugely influential in terms of opening up minds and encouraging bolder critical thought. Who is the most important LGBT+ thinker out there? Vote below to help decide! 

Some LGTB leaders in history were open and honest about their sexual orientation or gender identity, which helped change minds and make the public more open and accepting. Harvey Milk, for example, amplified public awareness of gay rights during his time in the San Francisco political scene. LGBT writers, like Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin, often tackled topical issues in their work and their contributions still impact how we think today. There are plenty of other influential LGBT people who work in an array of fields from science to philosophy to medicine to music. Vote up the most important LGBT thinkers of all time below and feel free to add anyone you think is missing. 

  • Alan Turing1

    Alan Turing

    Mathematician, Logician

    AgeDec. at 42 (1912-1954)

    BirthplaceMaida Vale, London, United Kingdom

    Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer... more on Wikipedia

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  • Oscar Wilde2

    Oscar Wilde

    Poet, Journalist

    AgeDec. at 46 (1854-1900)

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of Ireland

    Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet... more on Wikipedia

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  • James Baldwin3

    James Baldwin

    Activist, Poet

    AgeDec. at 63 (1924-1987)

    BirthplaceHarlem, New York City, New York

    James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright,... more on Wikipedia
  • Virginia Woolf4

    Virginia Woolf

    Novelist, Author

    AgeDec. at 59 (1882-1941)

    BirthplaceKensington, London, United Kingdom

    Adeline Virginia Woolf (; née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English... more on Wikipedia

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  • Oliver Sacks5

    Oliver Sacks

    Neurologist, Author


    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Oliver Wolf Sacks, (9 July 1933 – 30 August 2015) was a British neurologist, naturalist,... more on Wikipedia

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  • Michel Foucault6

    Michel Foucault

    Sociologist, Writer

    AgeDec. at 58 (1926-1984)

    BirthplaceEurope, Metropolitan France, Poitiers, Poitou-Charentes, Vienne

    Paul-Michel Foucault (UK: FOO-koh, US: foo-KOH, French: [pɔl miʃɛl fuko]; 15 October 1926 –... more on Wikipedia

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  • Truman Capote7

    Truman Capote

    Novelist, Screenwriter

    AgeDec. at 60 (1924-1984)

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    Truman Garcia Capote (; born Truman Streckfus Persons, September 30, 1924 – August 25, 1984)... more on Wikipedia

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  • Harvey Milk8

    Harvey Milk

    Businessperson, Politician

    AgeDec. at 48 (1930-1978)

    BirthplaceWoodmere, New York, United States of America

    Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician and the... more on Wikipedia

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  • Michelangelo9


    Sculptor, Painter

    AgeDec. at 89 (1475-1564)

    BirthplaceCaprese Michelangelo, Italy

    Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian... more on Wikipedia
  • Tammy Baldwin10

    Tammy Baldwin

    Politician, Lawyer


    BirthplaceMadison, Wisconsin, United States of America

    Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin (born February 11, 1962) is an American politician serving as the... more on Wikipedia
  • Gore Vidal11

    Gore Vidal

    Politician, Journalist

    AgeDec. at 87 (1925-2012)

    BirthplaceWest Point, Contiguous United States, New York, Orange County, United States of America

    Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (; born Eugene Louis Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an... more on Wikipedia

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  • Walt Whitman12

    Walt Whitman

    Poet, Nurse

    AgeDec. at 73 (1819-1892)

    BirthplaceWest Hills, New York

    Walt Whitman (; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist.... more on Wikipedia

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  • Anderson Cooper13

    Anderson Cooper

    Journalist, Television producer


    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Anderson Hays Cooper (born June 3, 1967) is an American journalist, television personality,... more on Wikipedia

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  • Sappho14


    Lyric poet

    AgeDec. at 55 (624 BC-569 BC)

    BirthplaceLesbos, Greece

    Sappho (; Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω Psáppho; c. 630 – c. 570 BC) was an Archaic Greek poet from the... more on Wikipedia
  • Tennessee Williams15

    Tennessee Williams

    Screenwriter, Writer

    AgeDec. at 72 (1911-1983)

    BirthplaceColumbus, Mississippi, Lowndes County, United States of America, United States

    Thomas Lanier Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), known by his pen name... more on Wikipedia

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    #81 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#3 of 250 The Best Gay Authors

  • Willa Cather16

    Willa Cather

    Novelist, Author

    AgeDec. at 74 (1873-1947)

    BirthplaceGore, Virginia

    Willa Sibert Cather (; December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) was an American writer who achieved... more on Wikipedia
  • Susan Sontag17

    Susan Sontag

    Cultural critic, Novelist

    AgeDec. at 71 (1933-2004)

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    Susan Sontag (; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker,... more on Wikipedia
  • Alvin Ailey18

    Alvin Ailey

    Choreographer, Dancer

    AgeDec. at 58 (1931-1989)

    BirthplaceRogers, Texas, United States of America

    Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an African-American dancer, director,... more on Wikipedia
  • Barney Frank19

    Barney Frank



    BirthplaceHudson County, Bayonne, Contiguous United States, United States of America, United States

    Barnett Frank (born March 31, 1940) is an American former politician. He served as a member of... more on Wikipedia

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  • John Maynard Keynes20

    John Maynard Keynes

    Politician, Investor

    AgeDec. at 63 (1883-1946)

    BirthplaceCambridge, United Kingdom

    John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes ( KAYNZ; 5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946), was a British... more on Wikipedia
  • Chelsea Manning21


    BirthplaceCrescent, Oklahoma

    Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is an American... more on Wikipedia
  • Bayard Rustin22
    Bayard Rustin (; March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an American leader in social movements... more on Wikipedia
  • John Ashbery23

    John Ashbery

    Poet, Professor


    BirthplaceArea code 585, Contiguous United States, New York, United States of America, United States

    John Lawrence Ashbery (July 28, 1927 – September 3, 2017) was an American poet. He published... more on Wikipedia

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    #15 of 118 The Best American Poets#55 of 168 The Best Poets of the 20th Century

  • Allen Ginsberg24

    Allen Ginsberg

    Film Score Composer, Poet

    AgeDec. at 71 (1926-1997)

    BirthplaceArea code 862, Area code 973, Area codes 862 and 973, Essex County, Contiguous United States

    Irwin Allen Ginsberg (; June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet, philosopher and... more on Wikipedia

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  • Gertrude Stein25

    Gertrude Stein

    Poet, Librettist

    AgeDec. at 72 (1874-1946)

    BirthplaceAllegheny, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) was an American novelist, poet, playwright,... more on Wikipedia

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