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Endean, Steve (6 Aug. 1948–4 Aug. 1993), gay rights activist and lobbyist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) causes, was born Stephen Robert Endean in Davenport, Iowa, to Robert Endean, a salesman, and Marilyn Endean. Raised in a Roman Catholic family, Endean grew up in Rock Island, Illinois; Peoria, Illinois; and Bloomington, Minnesota. After graduating from Lincoln High School in ...

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Hay, Harry (07 April 1912–24 October 2002), gay rights pioneer, was born Henry Hay, Jr., in Worthing, Sussex, England, to wealthy American parents, Henry Hay, Sr., and Margaret Neall. His father worked as a manager for mining companies, forcing the family to relocate frequently. The Hays moved to Chuquicamata, Chile, in 1914, then settled in Los Angeles, California, in 1919. Harry (as he was known) attended Los Angeles public schools and spent summers working on relatives’ ranches in California and Nevada. At age fourteen, Harry experienced his first sexual encounter with another man and realized he was gay (he had seen the word “homosexual” in a book several years earlier). Harry Hay attended Stanford University from 1930 to 1932, where he participated in the campus’s clandestine gay social scene and even told many classmates he was gay—an audacious declaration at a time when gay people usually did not publicly reveal their sexual identities....

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Kameny, Frank (21 May 1925–11 October 2011), pioneer in the gay rights movement, was born Franklin Edward Kameny in New York City to Emil Kameny and Rae Beck, European Jews. A shy, precocious boy, he entered Queens College at age sixteen to study astronomy. During World War II he interrupted his studies to serve in the army. At his induction, when asked if he had homosexual tendencies, he answered no. Decades later he confessed that he resented having to lie in order to serve his country. After finishing his undergraduate degree in 1948 at Queens College, where he specialized in optics, Kameny went to Harvard to pursue a doctorate under the noted astrophysicist ...

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Milk, Harvey (22 May 1930–27 November 1978), politician and gay rights activist, was born Harvey Bernard Milk in Woodmere, Long Island, New York, the son of William Milk and Minerva Karns. His father operated a department store in Woodmere that was founded in 1882 by his grandfather, Morris Milk (originally Milch), a Lithuanian immigrant. Before she married his father, Milk’s mother was an early feminist activist who joined the Yoemanettes, a group agitating for the inclusion of women in the U.S. Navy during World War I....

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Shilts, Randy Martin (08 August 1951–17 February 1994), journalist, was born in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Bud Shilts, a salesman of prefabricated housing, and Norma (maiden name unknown). Neither of his parents graduated from high school. They raised four sons in a politically conservative Methodist family. Young Randy Shilts grew up in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where he organized a local chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and graduated from a public high school. Shilts entered the University of Oregon in 1969. Two years later he openly acknowledged his homosexuality and became a leader in the Gay People’s Alliance in Eugene. In his senior year Shilts ran unsuccessfully for student body president on the slogan “Come Out for Shilts.” After completing requirements for graduation with honors in English literature, Shilts decided that he “didn’t know how to write.” Changing his major to journalism, he learned that he could write well, won several journalism awards, and served as managing editor of the campus newspaper. In 1975 Shilts graduated at the top of his class with a B.S. in journalism....