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  • Cynthia Fortlage

My LGBT+ Hero's

When I think of Hero's in my life I actually struggle as to who these people are that I admire and look up to. When I asked my roommate for some brainstorming help she came up with this topic not knowing that I struggle to identify those folks.


These folks immediately came to mind for me. I will break them down into three distinct categories; Beginnings, Learnings, and Being Seen.


Beginnings are those folks who are attributed with the beginnings of the LGBT+ movement that stand out to me.


Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Riveria are two names that constantly come up and stand out to me for their foundational work in the early days of the LGBT+ movement. They are both women of colour who are so forgotten these days in the modern LGBT+ movement.



Marsha P Johnson, an American gay liberation activist and New Yorker. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the leading voices in the Stonewall riots of 1969. She is purported to have thrown the first brick in the stonewall riots.


Sylvia Rivera, a Latina American gay liberation and transgender rights activist, prominent as an activist and community worker in New York. Rivera also participated as a leading voice in the 1969 Stonewall riots and in demonstrations with the Gay Liberation Front.


Miss Major Griffin-Gracy often referred to as Miss Major, is a trans woman activist and community leader for transgender rights, with a particular focus on women of colour. She served as the original Executive Director for the transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project. Miss Major has participated in activism for a wide range of causes throughout her lifetime, including the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.


Miss Major

When I look for smart learned women who are Transgender look no further than Professor Jennifer Flynn Boylan and Kate Bornstein.


Professor Boylan is an American author, transgender activist and reality television personality who is a professor at Barnard College of Columbia University and a contributing opinion writer for theNew York Times


Professor Boylan & Kate Bornstein

Kate Bornstein is an American author, playwright, performance artist, actress, and gender theorist. In 1986, Bornstein identified as gender non-conforming and has stated "I don't call myself a woman, and I know I'm not a man". She has many works to her credit both on and off stage.


Speaking of Being Seen. When I think of figures who stand out to me in the public eye, both I saw before I ever knew they were transgender and I thought both embodied something special. To find out they are sisters was a delight.



Candis Cayne is an American actress. She performed in New York City nightclubs in drag since the 1990s, and came out as transgender in 1996; Cayne came to national attention in 2007 for portraying transgender mistress Carmelita on ABC's prime time drama Dirty Sexy Money. The role makes Cayne the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in primetime



Jen Richards is a transgender writer, actress, producer and activist. She has many credits for her work including one of my personal favourites as Anna Madrigal in Tales of the City.




While you won't find their pictures posted across my walls, nor are they mentioned in my profiles, they are amazing womxn regardless and when I thought who do I admire these folks came immediately to mind.


Not all heroes are public figures as these folks weren't in their past. I think Candis Cayne gets credit for the best quote, to sum up, the perception of being a hero to others, "I'm not trying to be a spokeswoman for the transgender community; I just want to be looked at as a living, breathing, happy human being."


Let me know who are your LGBT+ hero's?


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