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Without the help of these and more LGBTQ+ icons, we wouldn't be where we are today. Thanks to activists, musicians, politicians and public figures, we've made enormous strides in the past several decades, particularly since June 28th, 1969— the start of the Stonewall Riots.

During these demonstrations, members of the LGBTQ+ community in NYC fought against the initial police raid and police violence that occurred at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. These riots brought many LGBTQ+ activists to the forefront of the movement, notably Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. And, over the next few decades, we began seeing more activists and figures making strides toward equality in the fields of politics, art, music, sports and more.

Today, we still have a long way to go and it should be noted that the fight isn't over—particularly when it comes to progress made for BIPOC and trans/ non-binary individuals. It should also be noted that in the list you're about to read, you may notice that many important and prolific LGBTQ+ icons haven't been mentioned. This is only because there aren't many (or any) tattoos available of these figures YET. But, we'd like to take the time to recognize the contributions of Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, Larry Kramer, Billie Jean King, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Randy Shilts, Alan Turing, Laverne Cox, Christine Jorgensen, Barbara Gittings, Gilbert Baker, Edith Windsor and many more.

Now, without further adieu, take a peek at 15 LGBTQ+ icons who changed the world.

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was a gay liberation and AIDs activist who was at the forefront of the Stonewall riots and other subsequent movements.


RuPaul is a drag queen who's broken barrier in popular culture, most notably through the creation of the Emmy winning "RuPaul's Drag Race."

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury was the front man of the rock band queen whose flamboyant stage persona and LGBTQ+ identity changed the course of rock and roll.

James Baldwin

James Baldwin was a novelist, playwright and poet whose works on masculinity, sexuality and race had a significant impact on the gay liberation movement.

David Bowie

David Bowie was a musician whose gender expression and bisexuality impacted millions of fans worldwide.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a poet and playwright whose was criminally convicted of consensual homosexual acts, which became one of the first celebrity trials in history.


Divine was an actor and drag performer whose performances in John Waters' productions changed the course of cinema.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was a leader of the pop art movement whose work explored the then underground gay community.

Keith Haring

Keith Haring was an artist whose work and activism worked to raise awareness for AIDs awareness.

Elton John

Elton John is a musician who's sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide and is regarded as one of the first openly gay mainstream artists.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is a musician and actor who's made a tremendous impact in LGBTQ+ advocacy through music, activism and philanthropy.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was a performer and French Resistance agent who's recognized as one of the first bisexuals in entertainment.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith is a musician who's won numerous Grammy's and is one of the most recognizable non-binary performers of all time.

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean is a groundbreaking R&B musician and member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Babadook

The Babadook is a fictional character featured in the 2014 horror film who's been regarded by the community as an LGBTQ+ icon due to the queer subtext of the film.