“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
– Warren Bennis
For a huge mass to muster up courage and take a step towards the right but path-breaking direction, it needs a tremendous amount of courage and also some inspiration.
Everyone is capable of inspiring themselves with a certain amount of effort, but not everyone can set examples for the millions to witness and follow. The path towards the absolute freedom, safety and equal rights of the LGBT community requires such role models to look up to, now more than ever.
There are a bunch of actors, musicians, artists and sportpeople who have already played their part. Here are some of the LGBT leaders who proved to the world that with a strong will and determination, no aspiration is impossible to achieve.
- HARVEY MILK – USA
Born in New York in 1930, gay rights activist and community leader Harvey Milk created history when he became one of the first openly gay officials in the United States in 1977, when he was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. In late 1972, he moved to San Francisco and opened a camera shop called Castro Camera on Castro Street, right in the middle of the city’s gay culture. Later in 1973, he declared his candidature for a position on the Board, but lost it thrice in a row. Finally in 1977, he won the seat as an influential political figure and an outspoken political representative of the gay community.
Milk served almost 11 months in the office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. In November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, a resigned city supervisor, because he was denied a reappointment by the mayor and Milk supported that decision.
Harvey Milk had prerecorded a message after receiving several anti-gay death threats during his political career. It said:
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.
- ANA BRNABIC – SERBIA
In June 2017, Ana Brnabic became the first woman Prime Minister of Serbia, as well as the first openly gay individual to hold the office. She was previously the Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government of Serbia under Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. After Vučić’s inauguration as president, he proposed Brnabić as his successor. Her main goal as the leader is to change the face of Serbia on the world’s map. She also became the first head of government of any Balkan country to attend a gay pride march when she attended one in Belgrade in this year.
- LEO VARADKAR – IRELAND
Leo Varadkar is not only Ireland’s first gay Prime Minister, but he is also half-Indian from his paternal side, which makes him the first from an ethnic minority to become the country’s leader in 2017. In 2015, a few months before Ireland legalised same-sex marriage, he came out as gay in an interview with the Irish national broadcaster, RTÉ. In the interview, he said:
“It’s not a big deal for me any more. I hope it’s not a big deal for anyone else – it shouldn’t be.”
- GEORGINA BEYER – NEW ZEALAND
Georgina Beyer is a Kiwi politician and former Labour Party Member of Parliament. She was the first openly transgender mayor, as well as the first openly transgender Member of Parliament; not only in New Zealand but in the whole world. She is also among a very small number of former sex workers to hold political office.
In her maiden speech after winning in the 1999 General Elections for the Wairarapa Electorate beating the National candidate by a majority, she said:
“I have to say it, I guess, I am the first transsexual in New Zealand to be standing in this House of Parliament. This is a first not only in New Zealand, ladies and gentlemen, but also in the world. This is an historic moment. We need to acknowledge that this country of ours leads the way in so many aspects. We have led the way for women getting the vote. We have led the way in the past, and I hope we will do so again in the future in social policy and certainly in human rights.”
- JOHANNA SIGURDARDOTTIR – ICELAND
Johanna Sigurdardottir became the world’s first openly gay head of a nation when she was elected as the Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009. She was also the first female PM of her country and the first one to have a same-sex marriage. She married her partner, writer Jonina Ledsdottir in 2010, after same-sex marriage was made legal in Iceland, making Jonina the first homosexual First Lady too. The couple had been dating since 1985.