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
1SocratesPlatonism / Greek philosophy
2Sappho 
3Oscar WildeChurch of Ireland (Anglican); Catholic
4Magnus Hirschfeld 
5The Patrons of Stonewall Inn 
6Walt WhitmanQuaker; Transcendentalist
7Gertrude SteinJewish
8Karl Heinrich Ulrichs 
9Edward Carpenter 
10J. A. Symonds 
11Mary WollstonecraftUnitarian
12Susan B. AnthonyQuaker; Unitarian
13Virginia WoolfNeo-Pagan
14Alexander the GreatGreek state paganism
15Hadrian 
16St. AugustineGreek state paganism; Manichaeanism; Catholic
17Michelangelo BuonarrotiCatholic
18Leonardo da VinciCatholic
19Christopher Marloweatheist
20William ShakespeareCatholic; Anglican
21Johann Joachim Winckelmann 
22Harry Hay 
23Harvey MilkJewish
24Queen Christina of Swedenoccultist
25Edward II 
26Jane Addams 
27Emily Dickinson 
28Radclyffe Hall 
29Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky 
30Andre Gide 
31Marcel ProustJewish Catholic
32Michel Foucault 
33Andy WarholCatholic
34John CageBuddhist
35Ruth Benedict 
36James Baldwin 
37HafizMuslim
38Byron 
39The Ladies of Llangollen 
40David and JonathanJewish
41Petronius 
42The Amazons 
43Natalie Barney 
44Eleanor RooseveltEpiscopalian
45Jean Genet 
46Sergey Diaghilev/Vaslav Nijinsky 
47Adrienne RichJewish
48Larry KramerJewish
49Tennessee WilliamsEpiscopalian; Catholic
50Rosa Bonheur 
51Author Rimbaud/Paul VerlaineCatholic
52Audre LordeNeo-Pagan
53We'whaZuni (Native American traditional religion)
54Florence NightingaleAnglican
55Willa CatherEpiscopalian
56Barney FrankJewish
57Bayard RustinQuaker
58E. M. Forster 
59Martha Carey Thomas 
60Christopher IsherwoodHindu (Vedanta Society)
61Pier Paolo Pasoliniatheist
62Yukio MishimaJapanese Budhido/Shinto/Buddhist culture
63Rock HudsonScientologist
64Sir Harold Nicolson/Vita Sackville-West 
65Eslie de Wolfe 
66LiberaceCatholic
67Allen GinsbergJewish; Buddhst
68Marlene Dietrichmostly nonreligious but superstitious;
nominal Lutheran background
69Quentin Crisp 
70H.D. 
71Dr. S. Josephine Baker 
72Romaine Brooks 
73Benjamin Britten 
74Rita Mae BrownLutheran
75Kate MillettCatholic
76Martina Navratilova 
77Barbara Gittings 
78Martin Duberman 
79Gloria Anzaldua/Cherrie Moraga 
80Mary Renault 
81Francis Bacon (artist) 
82Derek Jarman 
83Alan Turing 
84Roy CohnJewish
85Anna FreudJewish; Freudian
86Entertainers of Harlem:
Gladys Bentley/Ma Rainey/Bessie Smith
 
87Dr. Tom Waddell 
88Holly Near 
89Rudolf Nureyev 
90Freddie MercuryZoroastrian
91Judy Grahn 
92Edmund White 
93Katherine Philips 
94Ethel Smyth 
95Halston 
96Samuel Delaney 
97Ian McKellenatheist
98James Merrill 
99MadonnaCatholic; Kabbalah
100Michelangelo Signorile (radio host)Catholic

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