Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

The more time passes the more debate rises over the content of one's life. This is due in large part to the availability and reliability of primary sources—or lack thereof—as time passes. There is more time for nuances discussion. Further still is the claim to a legacy. The more influential a person was, the more people want to claim them. This is very much the case with thirteenth-century poet and Islamic scholar Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī.

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Edward De Lacy Evans

The legacy of many trans people is complicated. That’s not an inherently bad thing, either; being transgender can be complex. Treating one’s relationship to gender with care and room for contradictions is healthy. Sometimes, though, a spade is just a spade. In the case of Edward De Lacy Evans, a man is just a man.

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Ondrej Nepela

From the outside looking in, success can seem like an overnight process: a nobody one day and a star the next. Add the disconnection we have from most of history, and it can be difficult to see how much effort goes into the careers of the greats. That is not an issue with Ondrej Nepela, Olympic gold medalist, a man whose own coach admitted he wasn't "particularly talented."

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Princess Vera Gedroitz

The impact that queer people have had on the history and continued growth of art cannot be overstated. Most people are quick to offer examples in the fields of fashion, fine art, even literature when discussing how queer people have shaped our culture. Less often noted are the contributions in the fields of science, mathematics, and medicine. People like Alan Turing, Magnus Hirschfeld, Florence Nightingale, Anna Freud, Alan Hart, and Jane Addams all had huge impacts on their respective fields. Vera Gedroitz joins that list as a doctor, professor, and the first female surgeon in Russia.

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Zdeněk Koubek

The relationship between gender and sports has always been a complicated one, made even more so by modern gender roles. After the 1930s, it was increasingly common for athletes in international circles to be put through what was called “sex tests,” aimed at removing “gender frauds.” This was particularly true for women’s sports. These tests, lacking in scientific reasoning, tended to be invasive and humiliating. The goal was to ensure that no men were competing in the women’s Olympics, and so athletes were measured against white cishetero standards of femininity.

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One of the men who started and fortunately escaped from these discussions was Zdeněk Koubek. He was a transgender man who, after some years of participating in the Women’s Olympics and breaking several world records, withdrew from competitive sports and prioritized his own happiness.

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David Paynter

Internationally renowned David Paynter was a Sri Lankan artist raised in a Christian mission; his religious upbringing would influence him and his work throughout his life. His paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy for nearly twenty years, from 1923 to 1940. Though now remembered primarily for his Biblical scenes, he also painted portraits, focusing on labourers and people outside of the Sri Lankan upper class. He is remembered equally for his work and for a scandal surrounding it.

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tatiana de la tierra

In the age of the internet, recording queer history has never been easier; not only in sharing stories as we do at Making Queer History but in preserving stories that may otherwise be lost. Blogs, social media, videos, newsletters, and more have become the means by which we commemorate and celebrate one another and ourselves. Researching someone’s life is much easier when they’ve recorded it on their own blog, as is the case for tatiana de la tierra.

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Lesley Gore

In honour of Lesbian Day of Visibility recently, we wanted to look at a woman whose music is incredibly well-known, but whose queerness is often erased. Her music has been used in PSAs and presidential campaigns alike, and she worked hard to become a prolific singer, songwriter, actress, and LGBTQ+ activist. Lesley Gore was a vibrant and proud Jewish lesbian. Unlike many of the people we write about, she was fortunate enough to have the language to talk about her identity—and did. It’s an unfortunate truth that one of the rare people we’ve written about who used clear terms to describe their experiences still had her experiences erased.

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Florence Nightingale Part II

Though Nightingale’s career is the star of her story––the founder of modern nursing is an incredible credit––the extent and nature of her work is a bit different than what is said. Remembered primarily as The Lady with the Lamp, a nurturing angel who helped sick soldiers, there is much more to her story.

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Florence Nightingale Part I

The memory of Florence Nightingale still ripples throughout Europe and North America. Documents about her life still exist and uphold her legacy; in many ways she has become something of a mythological figure. Even in life there was merchandise relating to her, but it’s taken on a new life in books, valentines, and even colouring pages. She’s remembered as a no-nonsense feminist icon, a tender motherly figure, the founding of modern day nursing, and even the hero of nursery rhymes. Less discussed in the possibility that she was a lesbian and/or asexual.

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Princess Isabel of Parma and Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen

The history of the queer community is a history of love stories; love for oneself, one's friends, one's family. Because of the nature of the queer community, it is often the story of romantic love. From the tales of fashion designers and models, kings and ladies-in-waiting, and even royal manicurists, the history of love is a diverse one. This story is one about a Princess and a Duchess.

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Simon Tseko Nkoli

Any person who stands on the intersection of multiple marginalized identities can recognize this struggle. It's not an easy one to manage, but it is that balancing act that Nkoli the leader he was. He was the first in many regards, and he made the room for the seconds, thirds, and fourths who came after him.

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