25 Inspiring LGBTQ Quotes to Celebrate Pride Every Day
These are some of the words that have shaped and inspired generations—and remind us how far the LGBTQ community has come.
The power of language
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but one should never underestimate the power of a few well-chosen sentences. Over the decades, both before and after the Stonewall riots of 1969, the LGBTQ community has had plenty of those, expressing their struggles, their pride, and their stories. Powerful and profound LGBTQ quotes have popped up in interviews, essays, and works of art—in movies, TV shows, and books—and they’ve been delivered both by members of the community and their fiercest allies.
Some LGBTQ quotes delve into the darkest corners of a collective psyche, revealing and expressing hope as well as pain. Others celebrate just how far we’ve come—or acknowledge how far we still have to go. This Pride Month, as we wave the rainbow flag, we celebrate some of the words that have been worth as much as a thousand pictures.
“If you help elect more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.” —Harvey Milk
The first openly gay person elected to public office in California and an instrumental player in the introduction of the LGBTQ rainbow flag, Milk delivered these words at the end of a speech celebrating Gay Freedom Day, on June 25, 1978, several months after being elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. He was assassinated later that year.
“I was going to die, if not sooner, then later, whether or not I have ever spoken myself. My silence has not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” —Audre Lorde
A feminist, lesbian activist, and poet, the ever-quotable Lorde wrote these words in 1977, acknowledging her identity and mortality, less than two months after being told she would need surgery for a possibly malignant tumour in her breast. Although the growth ended up being benign, she would be diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978. After living with the disease for 14 years, she died of liver cancer in 1992 at age 58.
“We need in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable. The only weapon we have is our bodies. And we need to tuck them in places so wheels don’t turn.” —Bayard Rustin
Rustin was the gay Black civil rights activist and leader who organized Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963. This quote represents his belief and faith in non-violent resistance, something he shared in common with a number of LGBTQ activists.
Don’t miss these inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
Be who you are
“If a transvestite doesn’t say I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m a transvestite, then nobody else is going to hop up there and say I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m a transvestite for them.” —Marsha P. Johnson
An early trans rights activist who changed history, Johnson was a key player in the 1969 Stonewall riots. She dedicated her life to LGBTQ causes up until her mysterious death in 1992, when her body was found in the Hudson River.
The power of love
“Love him. Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?” —James Baldwin
As LGBTQ quotes go, they don’t get more beautiful than this one from Giovanni’s Room. In the groundbreaking 1956 novel by Baldwin—a gay Black activist, literary icon, and inspiration for 2016’s I Am Not Your Negro, a must-see documentary about race—these lines are spoken by Jacques, an older gay man, to David, an American living in Paris who is engaged to a woman. The book is written as David’s first-person account of his love affair with Giovanni, an Italian bartender, and in this passage, Jacques encourages David to pursue his feelings for Giovanni instead of giving in to the shame inflicted on gay men by a homophobic society.
Thank you, universe
“So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” —Tim Cook
And with those words, 53-year-old Cook, Apple’s CEO, came out in 2014. He wrote his fateful expression of gay pride in an op-ed titled “Tim Cook Speaks Up,” in which he cited U.S. President John F. Kennedy and civil rights legend Martin Luther King as inspirations.
Transformation and reinvention
“Nature made a mistake, which I have corrected. I am now your daughter.” —Christine Jorgensen
In the early 1950s, Jorgensen (born George William Jorgensen in 1926) became the first American to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. She made this early statement of LGBTQ pride in 1952 in a letter to her parents announcing her transition.
Here’s what one woman learned when her daughter came out to her as trans.
Till death do us part
“Enabling the recognition of committed relationships is perfectly consistent with the Conservative belief that commitment underpins society. We do not seek to change marriage but to spread it.” —Francis Maude
This comment was made by Conservative British politician Francis Maude, whose late brother was gay and died of AIDS in 1993. He made this analogy during a 2006 interview with PinkNews, in which he discussed his support of marriage equality.
No approval necessary
“Arthur, it doesn’t matter whether I approve or disapprove. They are human beings. They exist. It’s like asking me if I approve of dwarfs.” —Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur), Maude
Another Maude, the one played by future The Golden Girls star Bea Arthur, made this pronouncement in a 1977 episode of the sitcom called “The Gay Bar.” When her ultra-conservative neighbour, Arthur, incredulously asks if she approves of a new gay bar that has opened in their town, she lobs this zinger at his intolerance.
“We are at the forefront of telling our own narrative. It’s not at the hands of other people who are outside the community anymore. It’s so dreamy—I just feel so blessed to have lived long enough to see this day.” —Billy Porter
The Pose actor talked to Variety about the long road to his Emmy-winning role as Pray Tell and the honour of being a gay actor getting to portray a gay character on TV.
Love is love
“When we’re free to love anyone we choose/ When this world’s big enough for all different views/ When we all can worship from our own kind of pew/ Then we shall be free.” —Garth Brooks
Yes, pro-LGBTQ quotes can even appear in the lyrics of a country song. Brooks, whose late sister Betsy Smittle was a lesbian, sang these lines in the 1992 single “We Shall Be Free,” which he co-wrote with Stephanie Davis. Although the song was banned by many country music radio stations for its progressive, pro-gay point of view and failed to reach the Top 10, the video still won Video of the Year at the 1993 Academy of Country Music Awards.
The importance of activism
“My empowerment comes from feeling like I have a purpose now. On my tombstone, I didn’t want the ‘Wrecking Ball’ lyrics. I wanted it to be something greater.” —Miley Cyrus
Female pop stars have given us some of our most indelible LGBTQ quotes. Cyrus spoke to Variety in 2016 about coming out as pansexual and what she hopes her LGBTQ activism ultimately will mean to her legacy.
“I think being gay is a blessing, and it’s something I am thankful for every single day and have been my entire adult life. I couldn’t be more proud of being gay.” —Anderson Cooper
The CNN host made this comment during a 2013 interview with Michelangelo Signorile on Signorile’s SiriusXM radio show, expressing regret for staying in the closet as long as he did. Cooper publicly came out as gay in 2012 to then-Daily Beast writer Andrew Sullivan.
One step closer to marriage equality
“If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at the great American dream.” —Michelle Obama
And with those words during her speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the former U.S. first lady, always the queen of inspiring quotes, revealed herself to be a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage. That same year, her husband, Barack Obama, became the first U.S. president to publicly support marriage equality, and in 2015, he was the first one to acknowledge trans people in any speech, during his State of the Union address.
“They made me feel not afraid to be different. I was blown away by people’s bravery, and courage and outspokenness, and…not bowing down to fear. That, in turn, inspired me.” —Madonna
Madonna has long been one of the most ardent celebrity supporters of the LGBTQ community, and she explained her solidarity in a 2019 speech after accepting the Advocate for Change Award at the GLAAD Media Awards.
Daring to be different
“If anyone is brave and true to themselves, it’s my gay fans. The amount of confidence and fearlessness it takes to do what maybe is not what your parents expect you to do or what society may think is different—to be brave and be different and to be yourself—is just so beautiful.” —Beyoncé
Like Madonna, Beyoncé is a gay icon who has been a straight LGBTQ ally for years. In a 2011 interview with Pride Source, she talked about her respect for the LGBTQ community for having the strength and courage to simply exist.
Gay is for happy
“I got to the place I was fighting as I was writing my book between saying, ‘Am I gay? Am I bisexual? Am I gay? Am I bisexual?’ And either is okay, just go within and do not lie to yourself.” —Ricky Martin
The global superstar came out as gay in 2010 in a message on his official website, and he published his autobiography Me later that year. While appearing on Apple Music’s Proud Radio in 2020, he explained his decision to come out as gay following years of speculation about his sexual orientation. After these lines, he continued: “And then I said, ‘Rick, you are a very fortunate homosexual man. You are gay.’ And I wrote it and I pressed send, and then I cried like crazy. And I’ve been super happy ever since.”
“I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out—including myself. Life at last begins to make sense when you are open and honest.”—Ian McKellen
In 2018, the Lord of the Rings actor celebrated the 30th anniversary of the BBC radio discussion during which he came out as gay at age 48. This quote is taken from a tweet he sent to mark the occasion.
Talkin’ ’bout a revolution
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.” —Laverne Cox
The trans actress and activist talked about her journey in a 2014 interview with BuzzFeed. The Orange Is the New Black star, who appeared in the 2020 Oscar-nominated film Promising Young Woman, has since gone on to become one of the most visible trans women in the world.
Find out about the Montreal organization supporting low-income trans women.
A kiss is just a kiss
“Never underestimate what can happen when you agree to go on a date with a cute guy from South Bend, Indiana.” —Chasten Buttigieg
During Pete Buttigieg’s bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, the husband of the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and current U.S. Secretary of Transportation gave hope to young gay romantics around the country and helped to further normalize same-sex marriage. He also called their marriage “the adventure of a lifetime.”
Check out 15 of our favourite romantic quotes from books.
Life’s a drag
“We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag.” —RuPaul
LGBTQ quotes don’t always have meanings that are easy to define. The world’s most famous drag queen delivered this one in his 1995 autobiography, Lettin It All Hang Out, celebrating and normalizing drag culture more than a decade before RuPaul’s Drag Race made it mainstream cool.
Shifting the comfort zone
“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” —Ernest J. Gaines
A Louisiana-born author who died in 2019 at age 86, Gaines is perhaps best known for two novels: 1971’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and 1993’s A Lesson Before Dying. The former was adapted into a 1974 TV movie that won nine Emmys, while the latter, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, was adapted into a 1999 TV film that won two Emmys, including Outstanding Television Movie.
The beauty of bisexuality
“I think I’ve always been bisexual. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it’s just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of ‘Oh, I can’t.’ They say it’s taboo. It’s ingrained in our heads that it’s bad, when it’s not bad at all. It’s a very beautiful thing.” —Billie Joe Armstrong
The Green Day rocker, who made the then-rare move of coming out as bisexual in the ’90s, offered this elaboration on the subject in a 1995 interview with The Advocate.
Find out what you should never say when someone comes out as LGBTQ.
“I am the love that dare not speak its name.” —Lord Alfred Douglas
Long considered one of the defining quotes in the LGBTQ community for referring to the love between two men, “the love that dare not speak its name” is often incorrectly attributed to Oscar Wilde, whose affair with the much-younger Douglas led to his being tried for gross indecency in 1895, convicted, and sentenced to two years of hard labour. Douglas’ 1892 poem “Two Loves” was actually used as evidence against Wilde during the trial. Although it reflects the gay shame of the time, it is early evidence of how love between two men can inspire poetic eloquence.
Find out about the organization helping LGTBQ refugees find asylum in Canada.
Born this way
“Homosexuals are not made, they are born.” ―Abhijit Naskar
In his 2017 book Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality, the neuroscientist, author, and speaker delivers numerous LGBTQ quotes that will stay with you. This one, so simple and direct, is among the most powerful, handily challenging the idea that being gay is a choice or lifestyle. It’s neither. It’s simply being human.
Next, read up on 15 LGBTQ+ heroes you didn’t learn about in school.