The Harajuku district of Tokyo, Japan is the epicenter of street fashion. Collisions of colors, fabrics and aesthetics culminate in this single square mile, overloading the district with boutiques, clothing chains, and fashion malls all catering to the ever-growing sartorial scene. While Gwen Stefani may have introduced Harajuku to more Western audiences in 2004 (and somewhat contentiously, at that), Harajuku fashion has been a veritable institution for decades.
When Missouri defensive end Michael Sam told The New York Times and ESPN in February that he is gay, it may have been the first step in cementing his legacy of being the first openly gay player in the NFL. Whether Sam indeed breaks through the pink ceiling in the NFL—that most macho of organizations—remains to be seen. The NFL holds its draft from May 8-10, and Sam is favored to be an early-round pick. If that happens, he will join a large group of people who have shattered stereotypes, inspired other LGBT individuals not to let sexual orientation impede their dreams and become icons for the LGBT community. Here are 10 prominent people who have helped advance equality in the community over the years. Cue the Village People…
Gay Pioneers: Harvey Milk
When Harvey Milk arrived in San Francisco’s Castro District on the back of his campaign manager’s motorcycle as the first non-incumbent, openly gay person in the United States to win an election for public office, the street crowds on election night erupted into thunderous applause and cheers. Milk went from being a gay activist to gay icon in 1977 during his short-lived stint on the city’s board of supervisors.
Surviving through famine, war and unsavory political regimes, this image of a tree’s life brings to mind a passage from Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting”: “So Mother was right after all: tanks are mortal, pears eternal.”