Pop Quiz: Ten Famous, Influential and / or Historic LGBTQ People


Elton John, performing live on stage at Liseberg in Gothenburg, Sweden, 1971. Five years later Elton came out as bisexual. His four year long marriage to Renate Blauel ended in 1988. In 1992 he told Rolling Stone he was "quite comfortable being gay". He and his partner (now husband) David Furnish have been together since 1993.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Each week I set out to research and document ten "fun facts" on a topic loosely based on the two books I've reviewed that week.  "Loosely" being the operative word. 

This week I did a double review on Tuesday, of two nonfiction books by gay authors - Gay Like Me by Richie Jackson and Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas, and on Thursday took on the sci-fi indie book The Year Before the End by Vidar Hokstad.

While I didn't pick Hokstad's book knowing this, it turns out that his main character, the female captain of the Black Rain Zara Ortega, seems to have a romantic interest in one of her crew, Clarice Morgan. And there is a foreshadowing that this may develop into a fuller relationship as the six book series progresses. 

It's clear then that the theme running through all of this week's books is famous gay people, whether authors or main characters: 

  • Richie Jackson is a film and television producer most famous for his film Shortbus and the TV Series Nurse Jackie.
  • Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, an Emmy nominated filmmaker and the producer of the Tony nominated Broadway play What the Constitution Means to Me.
  • Zara Ortega, as noted above, is the fictional captain whose crew famously pursued a terrorist conspiracy in the 2100s. 

And so we've found this week's topic. Yes, this Fun Fact Friday post is once again a "pop quiz", and this time it tests your knowledge of famous, influential and / or historic LBGTQ folks. 

Now, keep in mind - these are (mostly) not the gay rights pioneers we may all recognize. These are people who are famous for one thing or another, and who also who are lesbian, bi, gay,  transgender or just plain ole' queer.

As always with these quizzes, I hope you have fun with it. I am not sure how hard it will prove to be, but if you find it super hard, take heart - there are a couple here even I didn't know until I did my research.

So, here we go - 

Ten Famous, Influential or Historic LGBTQ People:
  1. Civil Rights Icon - Born in 1912, he became a strong proponent of pacifism and peaceful protest. This Black civil rights leader served time during WWII for his refusal to register for the draft. He later became an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. and was instrumental in organizing the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. He was always open about his own homosexuality, and later in life advocated for social rights for gay people. He did not consider himself a gay rights pioneer, even as his civil rights organizing had a strong influence on the gay rights movement of the 1970s. He passed away in 1987. He was:

    • Fred Hampton
    • Bayard Rustin
    • Sam Cooke
    • Jesse Jackson

  2. Economist - Born in the 1880s, this British man went on to become one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century. His ideas fundamentally changed the economic policies of Western governments. As a young man, he fell hard (and often) into liaisons with other men. He became a member of the Bloomsbury Group, which held a relaxed attitude toward homosexuality. Later in life he pursued relationships with women, and in 1921 entered what by all accounts was a happy marriage to his wife, which lasted more than 25 years until his death.  This bisexual economist was:

    • Karl Marx
    • Milton Friedman
    • John Maynard Keynes
    • Thomas Robert Malthus
  3. Astronaut - She was a woman of many talents - she was a nationally ranked tennis player who pursued a professional career for a time before entering college. She earned a bachelors, masters and PhD in Physics, while doing research on the interaction of X-rays with the interstellar medium. She was selected by NASA in 1978 as part of Astronaut Group 8, and in June, 1983 became the first woman in space, as a member of the STS-7 Shuttle crew. She had a five year marriage with a fellow astronaut in the mid 1980s, but it wasn't until after her death in 2012 that her 27 year relationship with her female life partner was acknowledged. This pioneering astronaut was:

    • Shannon Lucid
    • Nancy Currie
    • July Payette
    • Sally Ride
  4. Entrepreneur - He is a co-founder of one of the most influential social media platforms in the world, and served as its main spokesperson after graduating from Harvard. He left that job to volunteer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign where he was instrumental in leading the campaign's social media outreach. He and his husband were married in 2012 and live in upstate New York. He is:

    • Mark Zuckerburg
    • Kevin Systrom
    • Chris Hughes
    • Jack Dorsey
  5. Singer-Songwriter - Born in the mid-1930's this Black American singer's career has spanned decades. He has received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Dozens of his albums have been certified gold or platinum by Billboard. One of his albums held the record for the most weeks on the Billboard Top 200 Albums in the US for 15 years, until Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon surpassed it in 1983. He's been called "the man with the velvet voice", and many of his Christmas records remain popular to this day. He was inadvertently outed in an interview in 1982 (he felt his statement was "off the record"). Because of death threats as a result of that interview, he remained closeted until finally coming out in 2017. He is:

    • Sam Cooke
    • Johnny Mathis
    • James Brown
    • Nat King Cole

  6. Actress - She played the mother in one of the most popular American sitcoms of the 1980s, but her big television break came in 1972 as one of the co-stars of another TV sitcom which lasted only one year. Her co-star in that series became her second husband. She has received five Emmy nominations. After being married three times and having five children, she came out as a lesbian in 2009. She and her current wife have been married since 2013. She is:

    • Meredith Baxter
    • Judith Light
    • Phylicia Rashad
    • Joanna Kerns

  7. Actress - This award winning actress is acknowledged as a trailblazer for the transgender community. She has many "firsts", including first transgender person to play a regularly recurring transgender character on US broadcast television, the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category, and the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine. She has appeared in many TV series on networks / cable channels like VH1, HBO, MTV and CBS. Born in Alabama in 1972, she has an identical twin brother who is is an operatic countertenor and pianist. She is:

    • Mj Rodriguez
    • Laverne Cox
    • Dominique Jackson
    • Harmony Santana

  8. Professional Football Player - Born in 1958, he played college football at Yale University, and was drafted in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. A linebacker for the Cowboys for most of his NFL career ( he was also on special teams) he played under legendary coach Tom Landry. His NFL career ended when he was released by the Cowboys in 1989. In 2018 he officially came out when he announced his engagement to his partner of two years. His marriage made him the first NFL player, former or current, to be in a same-sex marriage. He was previously married to a woman, with whom he had two children. He is: 

    • Jerry Smith
    • Wade Davis
    • Dave Kopay
    • Jeff Rohrer

  9. Politician - Born and raised in Virginia, this currently serving state politician was initially a journalist. Her first job out of college was as a lead reporter for the Gainesville Times. In December 2016 she left journalism, and then decided to run for office. She ran for the Virginia House of Delegates against a long time incumbent who described himself as the House's "chief homophobe". She beat her opponent 54% to 45% and became the first openly transgender member in any US state legislature. She is:

    • Danica Patrick
    • Danica Roem
    • Danica McKellar
    • Danica Wu

  10. Journalist - Born in 1979 this journalist and podcast host works for a major US newspaper. He grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Yale University. He became a political reporter, and during the 2016 election became one of the most prominent newspaper reporters covering Donald Trump. His political podcast airs five days a week and represents the substantial portion of audio revenue for his newspaper. The podcast became such a commitment of his time that it contributed to the breakup of his five year marriage to his husband. After the breakup he began a relationship with a female co-worker. The two share an apartment and have welcomed a baby boy. He is:

    • Lester Holt
    • Anderson Cooper
    • Dave Weigel
    • Michael Barbaro
So there you have it. Scroll down to find the answers. How many did you get right? Let me know if you enjoyed this week's Fun Facts Friday Pop Quiz by leaving a comment below.

Answers below 

1 - Bayard Rustin
2 - John Maynard Keynes 
3 - Sally Ride 
4 - Chris Hughes
5 - Johnny Mathis
6 - Meredith Baxter 
7 - Laverne Cox 
8 - Jeff Rohrer
9 - Danica Roem
10 - Michael Barbaro