Despite adversity and discrimination, LGBTQ individuals have excelled throughout history.  Yet historians and academics have conveniently participated in the heterosexist erasure of these LGBTQ contributions by omitting the LGBTQ status of prominent historical figures from academic and historical documents.  Accordingly, there are relatively few comprehensive projects which document and showcase the influence of these LGBTQ efforts.  Being Different: 101 Global LGBTQ Individuals Who Changed The World will be an original documentary outlining the contributions that members of the LGBTQ community have made, individually and collectively, to changing the world.  

Being Different will reclaim these LGBTQ contributions and create a forum for these LGBTQ individuals to be celebrated.  Being Different will historically, politically, and socially contextualize these efforts in order to demonstrate how these individuals balanced their desire to change to their social context with personal and social discrimination due to their sexuality.  Understanding how sexuality-based discrimination influenced, negatively or positively, their efforts will also be discussed.  By reversing the heterosexist erasure of these individual’s sexualities, we intend to uncover the true historical significance of these individuals and their contributions.

Sadly, there is still a vast spectrum of global LGBTQ rights: many countries are quite liberated and LGBTQ individuals experience political and social acceptance; in other countries, LGBTQ individuals experience overt discrimination, imprisonment, violence, and murder.  Without documentaries like this one, political and social majorities may find it easy to dismiss LGBTQ issues as a contemporary social agenda of an insignificant political minority. Being Different will provide an opportunity to educate policies-makers and the general public about the contributions that LGBTQ leaders and innovators from diverse races, genders, and ethnicities have made while outlining the challenges they faced. 

The goal, therefore, is to challenge perceptions of LGBTQ individuals in order to end stigmatization.  Being Different will also be a source of inspiration and pride for the far-too-many people who have shame associated their own LGBTQ status (or of someone close to them).    Being Different will teach youths and adults that ‘being different’ is normal, and that difference is worthy of celebration.

This documentary will be presented in two formats: a 90-minute feature documentary to be shown at film festivals and a more in-depth series of four one-hour segments suitable for TV and online presentation.


  • Will begin with a brief overview of the global state of LGBTQ rights in order to underscore the importance and precarious nature of LGBTQ rights.
    • Will then demonstrate the contribution that notable historical LGBTQ philosophers, academics, theorists and rights activists have made to laying the foundations for modern constitutional democracies and human rights.  The influence of Socrates, Plato, Sappho, Sir Francis Bacon, Nietzsche, Simone de Beauvoir, Foucault and contemporary individuals will be highlighted.  
  • PART 2
    • Will focus on notable historical LGBTQ social activists, academics and scientists who laid the foundation for our modern social policies, institutions, and disciplines of learning.  Leaders such as Florence Nightingale, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Alan Turing, Johann Joachim Winckleman, Alexander von Humboldt, Magnus Hirshfeld, Alfred Kinsey, and Margaret Mead will be featured along with contemporary counterparts.
  • PART 3
    • Will focus on the positive and negative influence of prominent LGBTQ past and present politicians and public figures, economists and business leaders including King James I, Alexander the Great, Cecil Rhodes, Ernst Rohm, and J. Edgar Hoover, Alexander Hamilton, John Maynard Keynes, and Dan Pallotta.
  • PART 4
    • Will examine the way notable historical LGBTQ individuals have influenced culture, art, sports, recreation, and music.  Feature figures will include Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Christian Dior, James Beard, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Captain Robert Jones, Mildred Didrikson, Dr. Tom Waddell, Billy Jean King, George Fredric Handel, Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky, Aaron Copland, Ma Rainey, Janis Joplin, and Sir Elton John.

The documentary will be accompanied by a website that will encourage the viewer to share their own personal narratives, feedback, and a forum to debate the contributions of the LGBTQ leaders.  Future projects could include a nomination of the single historical LGBTQ individual who has had the greatest impact on society.  Ultimately, Being Different will demonstrate that we are all deeply indebted to members of the LGBTQ community: not only have they contributed to the sociopolitical basis for a fair and just society that promises to protect us all but also their contributions to diverse realms such as politics, arts, science, economics, and music have enriched and enhanced our daily lives.

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