In 1972, Harvey Milk opened a small camera shop on Castro street in the heart of San Francisco. Upset by what he considered an unfair tax on small businesses in the city, Milk decided to run for a small local office. Within 5 years, Milk would make history as the country’s first openly gay elected official.
As the month of June nears its close, the trailblazers of the Pride movement should be commended. In the fields of politics, entertainment, music, and sports, there are the firsts: those who took the risk of unfair judgement and hate to come out to the world with #pride. Here are just a few of them:
1. Harvey Milk
In November of 1978, Milk was assassinated in his office. Though his tenure in government was short-lived, he introduced the possibility of powerful officials being gay to the table.
Ellen, oh, Ellen. How we love you. In 1997, she was one of the first women to come out as gay in entertainment. Ellen’s personal coming out was timed perfectly with that of the character she played at the time, Ellen Morgan — who also came out on the popular sitcom Ellen. She would late front a historic Times cover and an interview with Oprah. Though she was outed by Hollywood for a time after, Ellen was one of the first to make being gay, really ok. Two decades later, Ellen said: “I’m Ellen, and I’m gay. 20 years ago, I said that; it was a much bigger deal then.”
3. Jason Collins
Basketball is a guy’s guy kind of deal. Collins was the first openly gay player on a major American team sport. “I'm a 34 year-old NBA Player. I’m black. And I’m gay” Collins said in an op-ed for Sports Illustrated. "No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly,” Collins wrote, inspiring many to follow his footsteps.
4. Anderson Cooper
Though he was the sixth, Cooper was by far the most high-profile journalist to come out in the cable news industry. While the topic of his sexuality was speculated for years, Cooper came out in an open letter, saying: "while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible,” changing the tide himself.
5. Chely Wright
While country music singer Chely Wright decided to come out in 2007, it took her three years to release her the song “Like Me” through which she came out to the world in conjunction with a spot on The Today Show. Still today, Wright is one of the only openly gay country music singers.