Langston Hughes, whose literary legacy is enormous and varied, was closeted, but homosexuality was an important influence on his literary imagination, and many of his poems may be read as gay texts.
The writers of the Beat Generation, many of whom were gay or bisexual, endorsed gay rights as a part of their rebellion against inhibition and self-censorship.
The Comedy of Manners, which flourished on the Restoration stage, has been particularly amenable to twentieth-century gay male writers as a vehicle for social satire in both dramatic and nondramatic works.
Using his and his family's experiences, particularly his childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina, and his own wacky perspective on life, David Sedaris has become a world-famous humorist, comedian, writer, playwright, and radio personality.
From the great modernist writers of the 1920s and 1930s to the pulp writers of the 1950s to the lesbian writers of today, lesbian novelists have had a powerful impact on the lesbian community.
From its beginning, the nineteenth century in England had a purposeful homosexual literature of considerable bulk, both male and female, though it was fettered by oppression.
Persecuted for his homosexuality by the Castro government he had once championed, Cuban novelist, essayist, and poet Reinaldo Arenas challenged all types of ideological dogmatism.
Baudelaire was among the first French poets to include lesbians as subjects.
Astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died on July 23, 2012 at her home in San Diego of complications from pancreatic cancer. A physicist who flew on the shuttle Challenger in 1983 and on a second flight in 1984, Ride was fiercely protective of her private life and was not publicly out as a lesbian, but her relationship with her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaugnessy, was well known to friends and colleagues. She is survived by O'Shaughnessy, as well as by her mother, Joyce; a sister, Bear; and a niece and a nephew.
As Denise Grady reports in the New York Times, Dr. Ride was not only the first American woman to fly in space, but, at age 32, also the youngest American to do so. She was also the only person to sit on both panels investigating the catastrophic shuttle accidents of the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003.
As a young woman Dr. Ride was a nationally ranked amateur tennis player who was advised by Billy Jean King to pursue a career as a professional. She did not accept that advice, choosing instead to pursue her interest in science. She earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Stanford University in 1978.
After retiring from NASA, she became a professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, San Diego.
She also worked tirelessly to interest young people, especially girls, in science, math and technology.
In 2001, she founded a company, Sally Ride Science, to "make science and engineering cool again" by providing science-oriented school programs, materials, and teacher training. Her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy, with whom she co-authored several books, is Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University and serves as chief operating officer of Sally Ride Science.
Ride's sister Bear issued a statement regarding her public "outing" via her obituary, "I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them."
President Obama has issued a statement describing Dr. Ride as "a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools," he said. "Sally's life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve."
The video below profiles Sally Ride.