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The Gay 100:
A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present

The list below is from the book
The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present, Kensington Publishing Corporation/Citadel Press (2002), written by Paul Russell.

NOTE: It should be pointed out that many of the people on this list were not actually "Gay" in any normative sense of the word, although they may have been part-time bisexuals, "latent homosexuals, or "potentially homosexual." Clearly many of those listed were in no way members of contemporary GLBT culture; in fact, a large proportion of the individuals lived prior to the advent of GLBT culture as we know it. If one utilizes enough definitions and identifiers of what qualifies a person as "gay," then potentially 98 to 100% of the human population can be classified as such. This book, although presumably well-meaning, certainly uses a wide variety of definitions, although the author is, of course, not quite so all-inclusive. The list includes a number of people who are regarded by mainstream historians as life-long celibates or heterosexuals who had only minimal experience or latent homosexual potential. William Shakespeare and Madonna are just two of the more questionable "gays" included on the list.

As explained in the book's introduction, listings are based less on an individual's own lifestyle, self-identity, or proclivities, and more on the impact that their actions had on GLBT culture. The fact that author Paul Russell strongly identifies and writes from the perspective of contemporary GLBT culture (and not simply homosexuality in general) is made plain by the listing of "The Patrons of Stonewall Inn" in the #5 spot on his list of history's "most influential gays and lesbians. Although these are the individuals who participated in the foundational event of contemporary GLBT culture, they are clearly not as influential or as widely known in mainstream, non-GLBT culture as most of the people listed lower on the list (such as Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony, Virginia Woolf, Tennessee Williams, etc.) Russell points out that the title of this book is misleading in terms of the actual premise he used in compiling the list. That is, if a person could be classified as gay and was immensely influential (say, an important inventor or political figure whose impact is felt by everybody), but that person in no way directly influenced GLBT culture, such a person would be omitted from the list. Thus, Russell's book even includes gay actor Ian McKellen, who may be well known today, but is certainly of little mainstream historical importance. On the other hand, Russell did not include U.S. President James Buchanan on the list, despite the fact that Russell identifies Pres. Buchanan as "obviously gay."

Rank Name
1 Socrates Platonism / Greek philosophy
2 Sappho  
3 Oscar Wilde Church of Ireland (Anglican); Catholic
4 Magnus Hirschfeld  
5 The Patrons of Stonewall Inn  
6 Walt Whitman Quaker; Transcendentalist
7 Gertrude Stein Jewish
8 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs  
9 Edward Carpenter  
10 J. A. Symonds  
11 Mary Wollstonecraft Unitarian
12 Susan B. Anthony Quaker; Unitarian
13 Virginia Woolf Neo-Pagan
14 Alexander the Great Greek state paganism
15 Hadrian  
16 St. Augustine Greek state paganism; Manichaeanism; Catholic
17 Michelangelo Buonarroti Catholic
18 Leonardo da Vinci Catholic
19 Christopher Marlowe atheist
20 William Shakespeare Catholic; Anglican
21 Johann Joachim Winckelmann  
22 Harry Hay  
23 Harvey Milk Jewish
24 Queen Christina of Sweden occultist
25 Edward II  
26 Jane Addams  
27 Emily Dickinson  
28 Radclyffe Hall  
29 Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  
30 Andre Gide  
31 Marcel Proust Jewish Catholic
32 Michel Foucault  
33 Andy Warhol Catholic
34 John Cage Buddhist
35 Ruth Benedict  
36 James Baldwin  
37 Hafiz Muslim
38 Byron  
39 The Ladies of Llangollen  
40 David and Jonathan Jewish
41 Petronius  
42 The Amazons  
43 Natalie Barney  
44 Eleanor Roosevelt Episcopalian
45 Jean Genet  
46 Sergey Diaghilev/Vaslav Nijinsky  
47 Adrienne Rich Jewish
48 Larry Kramer Jewish
49 Tennessee Williams Episcopalian; Catholic
50 Rosa Bonheur  
51 Author Rimbaud/Paul Verlaine Catholic
52 Audre Lorde Neo-Pagan
53 We'wha Zuni (Native American traditional religion)
54 Florence Nightingale Anglican
55 Willa Cather Episcopalian
56 Barney Frank Jewish
57 Bayard Rustin Quaker
58 E. M. Forster  
59 Martha Carey Thomas  
60 Christopher Isherwood Hindu (Vedanta Society)
61 Pier Paolo Pasolini atheist
62 Yukio Mishima Japanese Budhido/Shinto/Buddhist culture
63 Rock Hudson Scientologist
64 Sir Harold Nicolson/Vita Sackville-West  
65 Eslie de Wolfe  
66 Liberace Catholic
67 Allen Ginsberg Jewish; Buddhst
68 Marlene Dietrich mostly nonreligious but superstitious;
nominal Lutheran background
69 Quentin Crisp  
70 H.D.  
71 Dr. S. Josephine Baker  
72 Romaine Brooks  
73 Benjamin Britten  
74 Rita Mae Brown Lutheran
75 Kate Millett Catholic
76 Martina Navratilova  
77 Barbara Gittings  
78 Martin Duberman  
79 Gloria Anzaldua/Cherrie Moraga  
80 Mary Renault  
81 Francis Bacon (artist)  
82 Derek Jarman  
83 Alan Turing  
84 Roy Cohn Jewish
85 Anna Freud Jewish; Freudian
86 Entertainers of Harlem:
Gladys Bentley/Ma Rainey/Bessie Smith
87 Dr. Tom Waddell  
88 Holly Near  
89 Rudolf Nureyev  
90 Freddie Mercury Zoroastrian
91 Judy Grahn  
92 Edmund White  
93 Katherine Philips  
94 Ethel Smyth  
95 Halston  
96 Samuel Delaney  
97 Ian McKellen atheist
98 James Merrill  
99 Madonna Catholic; Kabbalah
100 Michelangelo Signorile (radio host) Catholic


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Webpage created 3 November 2005. Last modified 11 August 2007.
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