vote on everything
Culture
65 voters

The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time

Updated July 5, 2018 530 votes 65 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. 

...more
  • 1
    Alan Turing is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    23
    2

    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
  • 2
    Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    18
    3

    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

    More Virginia Woolf 

    The Best Virginia Woolf QuotesThe Best Virginia Woolf Books

  • 3
    James Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    17
    2

    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
  • 4
    Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    15
    2

    Oscar Wilde

    Poet, Journalist

    AgeDec. at 46 (1854-1900)

    BirthplaceIreland, Ireland, Europe, Dublin

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

    More Oscar Wilde 

    The Best Oscar Wilde QuotesThe Best Oscar Wilde Books

  • 5
    Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    14
    4

    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

    More Truman Capote 

    How Truman Capote Went From A New York City "Party Boy" – To A Social RuinerThe Best Truman Capote Books

  • 6
    Oliver Sacks is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    13
    2

    Oliver Sacks

    Neurologist, Author

    Age87

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Oliver Wolf Sacks, (9 July 1933 – 30 August 2015) was a British neurologist, naturalist,... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Michel Foucault is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    13
    5

    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

    More Michel Foucault 

    #1605 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time#208 of 1,357 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • 8
    Tammy Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    8
    0

    Tammy Baldwin

    Politician, Lawyer

    Age58

    BirthplaceMadison, Wisconsin, United States of America

    Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin (born February 11, 1962) is an American politician serving as the... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Harvey Milk is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    11
    5

    Harvey Milk

    Businessperson, Politician

    AgeDec. at 48 (1930-1978)

    BirthplaceWoodmere, Contiguous United States, New York, United States of America, United States

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

    More Harvey Milk 

    #83 of 87 People Who Made The World A Better Place#18 of 31 30+ Celebrities Whose Names Are Food

  • 10
    Gore Vidal is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    8
    1

    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

    More Gore Vidal 

    The Best Gore Vidal Books#522 of 580 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • 11
    Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    14
    10

    Michelangelo

    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

    More Michelangelo 

    #37 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive#3 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

  • 12
    Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    14
    10

    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

    More Walt Whitman 

    13 Bizarre Facts About Walt Whitman They Didn't Teach In History ClassThe Best Walt Whitman Quotes

  • 13
    Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    8
    4

    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
  • 14
    John Maynard Keynes is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    12
    10

    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

    More John Maynard Keynes 

    #113 of 432 Famous Tall Men Over 6'2#5 of 8 Famous Pitt Club Members

  • 15
    Chelsea Manning is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time

    Age32

    BirthplaceCrescent, Oklahoma

    Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is an American... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Sappho is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    7
    4

    Sappho

    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
  • 17
    John Ashbery is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    9
    7

    John Ashbery

    Poet, Professor

    Age93

    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

    More John Ashbery 

    #53 of 163 The Best Poets of the 20th Century#14 of 111 The Best American Poets

  • 18
    Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    10
    9

    Allen Ginsberg

    Film Score Composer, Poet

    AgeDec. at 71 (1926-1997)

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, United States of America

    Irwin Allen Ginsberg (; June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet, philosopher and... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    8
    7

    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

    More Tennessee Williams 

    #16 of 342 The Greatest American Writers of All Time#81 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time

  • 20
    Adrienne Rich is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    4
    1

    Adrienne Rich

    Poet, Essayist

    AgeDec. at 83 (1929-2012)

    BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland

    Adrienne Cecile Rich (; May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist and... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Susan Sontag is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    11
    11

    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
  • 22
    Jeanette Winterson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    7
    5

    Jeanette Winterson

    Journalist, Novelist

    Age61

    BirthplaceManchester, United Kingdom

    Jeanette Winterson (born 27 August 1959) is an English writer, who became famous with her... more on Wikipedia

    More Jeanette Winterson 

    The Best Jeanette Winterson Books#133 of 209 The Greatest Living Writers & Most Famous Authors Today

  • 23
    W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    5
    4

    W. H. Auden

    Poet, Librettist

    AgeDec. at 66 (1907-1973)

    BirthplaceEurasia, North Yorkshire, York, United Kingdom, England

    Wystan Hugh Auden (; 21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was an English-American poet.... more on Wikipedia

    More W. H. Auden 

    The Best W. H. Auden Quotes#292 of 369 The Greatest Poets of All Time

  • 24
    Bayard Rustin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    Bayard Rustin (; March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an American leader in social movements... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Gertrude Stein is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time
    3
    0

    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

    More Gertrude Stein 

    The Best Gertrude Stein Quotes#30 of 232 The Best Female Authors of All Time

PeopleLGBTQ+top 50Influential