Famous Lesbian Women, Gay Men, and Bisexual People

Researched and Prepared by Mark Pope, Ed.D.

Individuals in virtually every culture and every historical period of history have formed intimate sexual and emotional bonds with members of their own gender. Many gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals' contributions to the societies in which they lived were extraordinary. 

There are an impressive number of identifiable famous and distinguished bisexuals, lesbians, and gay men; however, an exhaustive list would be impossible to compile. Documentary evidence of any person's sexual activity is rare, regardless of the person's sexual orientation. In the case of lesbians and gay men, relevant diaries, letters, and photographs are often deliberately destroyed. Evidence is particularly hard to come by if during the person's lifetime there were or are legal, physical, or social penalties for identifying oneself as a nonheterosexual person. An additional complication is that many men-loving men and women-loving women lived before contemporary terms for sexual orientations and practices were invented. Others lived in societies where sexual activity deviating from the majority's was not of interest and went unrecorded for that reason. In some cases, scholars must simply weigh the available evidence and make an educated guess.

The same-sex or bisexual orientation or behavior of the famous or distinguished people whose names appear on the attached list either has been clearly documented or is consistent with strong circumstantial evidence.


Sappho (c. 600 BCE), Greece poet

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), USA author

Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967), USA author, chef

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), Great Britain author

Victoria Sackville-West (1892-1962), Great Britain author

Kate Millett (b. 1934), USA author

Euripides (480-406 BCE), Greece playwright

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), Great Britain playwright

John Milton (1608-1674), Great Britain author

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), Great Britain poet

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), Denmark author

Walt Whitman (1819-1892), USA poet

Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890), England explorer and writer

Horatio Alger (1832-1899), USA author

Samuel Butler (1835-1902), Great Britain author

Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909), Great Britain poet

Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), France poet

Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), France poet

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Great Britain playwright

Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), Greece poet

Andre Gide (1869-1951), France author

Marcel Proust (1871-1922), France author

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), Great Britain author

E. M. Forster (1879-1970), Great Britain author

Harold Nicholson (1886-1968), Great Britain author, diplomat

T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935), Great Britain soldier, author

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), France author

Charles Laughton (1899-1962), England actor

Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986), Great Britain author

W. H. Auden (1907-1973) British-USA poet

Jean Genet (1910-1986), France playwright

Tennessee Williams (1912-1983), USA playwright

Tyrone Power (1913-1958), USA actor

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), USA poet, author

Arthur C. Clarke (b. 1917), England science fiction writer

Merle Miller (b. 1919), USA author

Montgomery Clift (1920-1966), USA actor

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), Italy filmmaker

Brendan Behan (1923-1964), Ireland author

James Baldwin (1924-1987), USA author

Truman Capote (1924-1984), USA author

Rock Hudson (1925-1985), USA actor

Hart Crane, USA poet

Sara Teasdale, USA poet

Gore Vidal (b. 1925), USA author

Allan Ginsberg (b. 1926), USA poet

Nick Adams (1931-1968), USA actor

Lewis Caroll, Great Britain author and mathematician

A. E. Housman, Great Britain poet

Willa Cather, USA novelist

Edward Albee, USA playwright

George Cukor, USA filmmaker

Vicente Aleixandre, Spain poet

Jacinto Benavente, Spain dramatist

Rita Mae Brown, USA author

Ian McKellen, Great Britain actor

Nathan Lane, USA actor

Ellen DeGeneres, USA actor

Rupert Everett, Great Britain actor

Audre Lorde, USA poet

Elizabeth Bishop, USA poet

Marie-Claire Blais, Canada author

Samuel R. Delazny, USA science fiction writer

Judy Grahn, USA author

Langston Hughes, USA author

Ursula LeGuin, USA science fiction writer

Edna St. Vincent Millay, USA poet

Marion Riggs, USA filmmaker

Harvey Fierstein, USA playwright/actor

Sal Mineo, USA actor

Tommy Kirk, USA actor

Paul Winfield, USA actor

Raymond Burr, USA actor

Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007), USA actor/director

George Takei (b. 1937), USA actor

Tab Hunter, USA actor

Andrew Sullivan, USA journalist

Cynthia Nixon, USA actor

Neil Patrick Harris, USA actor


Bessie Smith (1894-1937), USA singer

Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), Russia composer

Serge Diaghilev, Russia ballet dancer

Waslaw Nijinsky (1890-1950), Russia ballet dancer

Paul Robeson (1898-1976), USA singer, actor, political activist

Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968), USA actor

Janis Joplin (1943-1970), USA singer

David Bowie (b. 1947), Great Britain singer

Elton John (b. 1947), Great Britain composer/singer

Benjamin Britton, England composer

Samuel Barber, composer

Cole Porter, USA composer

k. d. lang, USA singer

Janis Ian, USA singer/composer

Melissa Etheridge, USA singer/composer

Johnny Mathis, USA singer

Lee Liberace, USA pianist

David Geffen, USA record producer

Lance Bass, USA singer

Politics & Religion

Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), Macedonia king

Demetrius Poliorcetes (294-288 BCE), Greece king

Antiochus I (280-261 BCE), Greece king

Antigonus II Gonatas (276-239 BCE), Greece king

Ptolemy IV (221-205 BCE), Greece king

Gaozu (206-194 BCE), China emperor

Ptolemy VII (145-144 BCE), Greece king

Wu (140-86 BCE), China emperor

Nicomedes IV (early first century BCE), Bithynia king

Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), Rome emperor

Augustus (31 BCE - 14 AD), Rome emperor

Ai (6 BCE-1 AD), China emperor

Tiberius (14-37 AD), Rome emperor

Caligula (37-41 AD), Rome emperor

Claudius I (41-54), Rome emperor

Nero (54-68), Rome emperor

Hadrian (76-138 AD), Rome emperor

Wei Wen (220-227), China emperor

Jin Diyi (336-371), China emperor

Valentian III (425-455), Rome emperor

Lian Jianwen (550-551), China emperor

Constantine V (741-775), Byzantium emperor

Michael III (842-867), Byzantium emperor

Al-Hakem II (961-976), ruler of Cordoba (Spain)

Hisham II (965-1013), ruler of Cordoba (Spain)

Basil II (976-1025), Byzantium emperor

Sebuktigin (tenth century), founder of the Ghaznavid Empire (Afghanistan)

Mahmud (997-1030), Ghazni (Afghanistan) emperor

Constantine VIII (1025-1028), Byzantium emperor

Constantine IX (1042-1055), Byzantium emperor

Al-Mutamid (1069-1090), ruler of Seville (Spain)

William II (1087-1100), England king

Richard the Lion-hearted (1157-1199), Great Britain king

Frederick II (1212-1250), Holy Roman emperor

Edward II (1307-1327), England king

Richard II (1367-1400), Great Britain king

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1368-1394), Japan shogun

Beyazid I (1389-1402), Ottoman Empire sultan

Juan II (1406-1454), Castile and Leon (Spain) king

Mehmed (Muhammad) II (1451-1481), Ottoman Empire sultan

Enrique IV (1454-1474), Castile (Spain) king

Julius III (1487-1555), Italy pope

Charles IX (1560-1574), France king

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Great Britain philosopher, statesman

James I (1566-1625), Great Britain king

Oda Nobunaga (1568-1582), Japan military dictator

Jahangir (1605-1627), India emperor

Louis XIII (1610-1643), France king

Tokugawa Iemitsu (1622-1651), Japan shogun

Christina (1626-1689), Sweden queen

Peter the Great (1672-1725), Russia czar

Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1680-1709), Japan shogun

William III (1689-1702), England king

Charles XII (1697-1718), Sweden king

Anne (1702-1714), England queen

Frederick the Great (1712-1786), Prussia king

Gustavus III (1746-1792), Swedish king

Catherine II the Great (1762-1796), Russia empress

Christian VII (1766-1808), Denmark king

Kamran (early 19th century), Afghanistan emir

Ludwig II (1864-1886), Bavaria king

Jane Addams (1866-1935), USA social work profession founder

Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867-1951), Finnish president

Frank Parsons ( -1908), USA social activitist, author, career counseling and professional counseling founder

Abdul Al-Rahman (1880-1901), Afghanistan king

Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), Turkey ruler

Mwanga (1884-1897), Buganda (Uganda) king

Harold Nicholson (1886-1968), Great Britain author, diplomat

Ernst Rohm (1887-1934), Germany nazi leader

T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935), Great Britain soldier, author

Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), Sweden United Nations secretary general

Gustavus V (1907-1950), Sweden king

Ferdinand I (1908-1918), Bulgaria king

Rama VI (1910-1925), Thailand king

Amanullah Khan (1919-1929), Afghanistan king

Rev. Troy Perry, USA religious leader

Malcolm Boyd (b. 1923), USA theologian

Manuel Azana (1931-1933, 1936-1939), Spain president

Barbara Jordan (1937-1996), USA Member of Congress, Texas

Roberta Achtenberg, Assistant Director of U. S. Housing and Urban Development

Barney Frank, USA Member of Congress, Massachusetts; Chair, Committee on Financial Services

Gerry Studds, ( -2007) USA Member of Congress, Massachusetts

Tammy Baldwin, USA Member of Congress, Wisconsin

Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, USA National Guard

David B. Mixner, USA political consultant

Karen Clark, USA Minnesota state legislator

Richard C. Failla, USA New York Supreme Court justice

Debra A. Batts, USA federal judge

Mark Foley, USA Member of Congress, Florida

Jim McGreevey, USA Governor, New Jersey


Sophocles (496-406 BCE), Greece philosopher

Socrates (470-399 BCE), Greece philosopher

Aristotle (384-322 BCE), Greece philosopher

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Great Britain philosopher, statesman


Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510), Italy painter

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italy painter, scientist, inventor

Michelangelo (1475-1564), Italy sculptor and painter

Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), Italy goldsmith

Andy Warhol, USA artist

Science and Academia

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italy painter, scientist, inventor

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Great Britain philosopher/statesman, parent of the scientific method

Sir Isaac Newton, Great Britain scientist

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), Germany naturalist

Florence Nightingale, Great Britain nurse, first school of nursing

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), Great Britain economist

Magnus Hirschfeld, German sexologist, scientific study of homosexuallity

Sonya Kovlensky, Russian mathematician, theorem of differential equations

Lewis Caroll, Great Britain author and mathematician

George Washington Carver, USA plant scientist

Margaret Mead, USA anthropologist, studies of culture and human sexuality

Alan Turing (1912-1954), England mathematician and computer science pioneer

Sally Ride (1951-2012), USA astronaut and first American women in space

Allan Cox, USA geophysicist, specialist on paleomagnetism

Louise Pearce, USA pathologist

S. Josephine Baker, USA physician and child hygiene advocate

Jim Pollack, USA astrophysicist, senior space research at NASA Ames Research Center

Bruce Voeller, USA biologist and AIDS researcher

Clyde Wahrhaftic, USA geologist, seismic fault surveyor

Neil Divine, USA astrophysicist, star formation theory


(also see Outsports List of Out Athletes and Out Figure Skaters )

Bill Tilden (1893-1953), USA tennis champion

Babe Didrickson Zaharias (1911-1956), USA golf champion and Olympic track & field medalist (80 meters hurdles, gold, 1932), (javelin, gold, 1932), (high jump, silver, 1932)

Susan McGrievy, USA Olympic team member (1956, 1960)

Ronnie Robertson, USA figure skating champion, Olympic silver (1956)

Dave Pallone, USA major league professional baseball umpire

Glenn Burke, USA professional baseball player (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Cat Chase, USA weightlifting champion

Bruce Hayes, USA Olympic gold medal swimmer (1984)

Billie Jean King, USA tennis champion

David Kopay, USA professional football player

Diana Nyad, USA swimmer

John Curry, United Kingdom figure skater, Olympic gold medalist (1976)

Greg Louganis, USA Olympic diving gold medalist (1984, 1988), silver (1976)

Toller Cranston, Canada figure skating champion, Olympic bronze medalist (1976)

Martina Navratilova, Czechoslovakia/USA tennis champion

Holly Metcalf, USA rowing champion, Olympic gold (1984)

Brian Orser, Canada figure skating champion, Olympic silver medalist (1984, 1988)

Bob Paris & Rod Jackson, USA body builders (Mr. Universe and Mr. America)

Rudy Galindo, USA figure skating champion

Marc Leduc, Canada boxing champion, Olympic silver (1992)

Mark Tewksbury, Canada swimming champion, Olympic (silver, 1988; bronze, 1992; gold, 1992)

Amelie Mauresmo, France tennis champion, Olympic silver (2004)

Allissa Wykes, USA women's professional football player, fullback, Philadelphia Liberty Belles--the 2001 National Women's Football League champions

Roy Simmons, USA professional football player, New York Giants offensive lineman

Gigi Fernandez, USA professional tennis player, Olympic gold medalist (doubles, 1992, 1996)

Conchita Martinez, USA professional tennis player, Olympic silver (1992), bronze (1996)

Billy Bean, USA professional baseball player, San Diego Padres outfielder

Esera Tuaolo, USA professional football player, Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman

Sheryl Swoopes, USA WNBA basketball player, Olympic gold (1996, 2000, 2004)

John Amaechi, NBA basketball player, Utah Jazz & Orlando Magic center

Kyle Hawkins, USA Lacrosse coach at University of Missouri - Columbia

Camilla Andersen, Denmark Olympic gold medalist in handball (1996, 2000)

Judith Arndt, Germany Olympic cycling (bronze, 1996; silver, 2004)

Robert Dover, USA equestrian champion, Olympic bronze (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)

Gunther Seidel, USA equestrian champion, Olympic bronze (1996, 2000, 2004)

Imke Duplitzer, Germany fencing champion, Olympic silver (2004)

Mia Hundvin, Norway handball champion, Olympic bronze (2000)

Johan Kenkhuis, Netherlands swimming champion, Olympic bronze (2000), silver (2004)

Matthew Mitcham, Australia diving champion, Olympic gold (2008)

Vicky Galindo, USA softball champion, Olympic gold (2008)


Malcolm Forbes, USA business person and publisher


Information gathered for this list comes from a variety of sources including the Gay & Lesbian Task Force, American Library Association as well as many other books and resources. For a free list of other publications available from the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table, go to the order form, or contact: GLBTRT Library Information Clearinghouse Coordinator, c/o ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611.