What the lack of clarity shows is how hard it is to find clear evidence from an age when such relations had to be secret and how many men have been presumed to be straight due to the silence they had to maintain. In this I’m reminded of how even in the 20th Century gay men in the public eye maintained that they were straight, which brings us to Dirk Bogarde.
8. Actors: in the closet and out. Dirk Bogarde directly denied being gay, saying “why should I lie about this” whilst actually living with his male lover in France. This despite his role in the ground breaking film Victim, which looked at the impact of blackmail on a gay man. Were we to only go on the evidence of interviews with him and his surviving written work we would have to assume Dirk Bogart were straight. To read more click here. How much harder then to find evidence from an age when, as in Shakespeare’s time, the punishment for sodomy was death?
Sir Ian Mckellen, who came out in 1988 aged 49.
9. Actor and philosopher of history: Rock Hudson and Michel Foucault
10. Scientist and musician: Alan Turing and David Bowie. Two men who shaped the modern age through science and art. Turing not only broke the German enigma code but was also the founder of computer science laying the foundations for the modern age of computing. Convicted for gay sex and chemically castrated he killed himself a few years later.
11. Polymath and activist: Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell
12. Dancer and activist: Rudolf Nureyev and Harvey Milk
13. Gay rights campaigners: Allan Horsfall (1927–2012) was a British gay rights campaigner and founder of the North West Committee for Homosexual Law Reform, which became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. In Horsfall’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Peter Tatchell described him as “one of the grandfathers of the gay rights movement in Britain” and “one of the truly great pioneers of LGBT equality in Britain” To read more click here
Antony Grey (1927 – 2010) is regarded as Britain’s first gay rights activist and was instrumental in forcing the government to push through the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which paved the way for modern law reform. He began campaigning for gay equality in 1958, when he joined the Homosexual Law Reform Society, which campaigned to change laws which criminalised gay men.To read more click here
14. Political activists: Keith Boykin, the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Clinton White House Kieth helped organize the nation’s first meeting between gay and lesbian leaders and a U.S. President.
Bayard Rustin, who campaigned with Martin Luther King for black rights and went on to campaign for gay rights. He convinced King of the value of non-violent protest and helped to organise the March on Washington.
15. Writer and musician: James Baldwin, author of Giovanni’s Room and Frank Ocean, the first Hip Hop artist to come out as gay.
16. Football and swimming: Justin Fashanu, the first professional footballer to come out as gay in 1990, who sadly killed himself. Tom Daily, Olympic swimming champion.
17. Rugby: Keegan Hirst: The first British rugby league player to come out as gay in 2015 aged 27.
Gareth Thomas: Thomas’ public confirmation of his sexuality in 2009 made him the first openly gay professional rugby union player.
18. Comedian and writer: Julian Clary, whose show ‘sticky moments’ on channel 4 in 1989 was central to my coming out process. Seeing an openly gay man being cheeky and playful with a mainly straight audience gave me hope and helped me to realise that I was not alone.
G. Winston James is a Jamaican-born author and poet and a former fellow of the Millay Colony for the Arts. James is the former Executive Director of the Other Countries: Black Gay Expression artists’ collective and a founding organizer of Fire & Ink: A Writers Festival for GLBT People of African Descent. James is also co-editor of the historic anthologies Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Writing and the Lambda Literary Award finalist publication Spirited: Affirming the Soul and Black Gay/Lesbian Identity. To read more about him click here
19. Fashion: Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent
20. Tech and banking: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple “If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is … then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Antonio Simoes CEO, HSBC Bank
21. Buisiness and banking: Michael Sosso, Vice President, Ethics and Compliance, BP and Peter Zorn, Managing Director, Deutsche Bank.
22. Entrepreneur and human rights activist: Jared Eng, founder of pop culture website justjared.com Just Jared was recently named to Yahoo’s Top 10 Bloggers Roll (alongside the Huffington Post & TMZ) and was previously highlighted by Vanity Fair & InStyle as one of the world’s leading Entertainment Sites.
Dan Choi became the face of “don’t ask, don’t tell” when he first came out on The Rachel Maddow Show in 2009. Lt. Choi, who’s Korean-American, was an Arabic translator in the Army National Guard and was discharged under the discriminatory policy that barred openly gay and lesbian soldiers from serving in the military. DADT was repealed in 2011.
23. Politics: Alan Duncan, MP for Rutland and Melton was the first Tory MP to voluntarily come out, in 2002.
Stephen Twigg was elected as a labour MP in 1997, defeating Micheal Portillo in what was thought to be a safe Conservative seat. He was elected as an openly gay man. There are now more openly gay MPs at Westminster than in any other parliament around the world.
To read more about the number of openly gay MPs in the UK click here
24. Royalty and Politics: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is an openly gay Indian prince who is the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat.
Leo Varadkar, came out whilst being Ireland’s minister for social protection and went on to be elected Taoiseach of Ireland, the first ever openly gay Prime Minster. He came out as gay during the same-sex marriage referendum campaign in Ireland in 2015.
And so the list could go on…….
If this selection has interested you to see a much more detailed list of men and women who have loved their own gender throughout history click here