40 Inspiring LGBTQ+ Quotes to Celebrate Pride Every Day
These powerful LGBTQ+ quotes have shaped and inspired generations—and remind us how far the 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 (a key moment in Pride Month history), 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 LGBTQ movies, TV shows, books and podcasts—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—a world with LGBTQ-owned businesses and leadership—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.
“Nature made a mistake, which I have corrected. I am now your daughter.” —Christine Jorgensen
In the early 1950s, Christine 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 happened when one woman announced to her grandmother that she was gay.
“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, Harvey 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. It’s one of the most enduring and impactful gay quotes in history.
“I was going to die, if not sooner, then later, whether or not I have ever spoken myself. My silence had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” —Audre Lorde
A feminist, lesbian activist and poet, the ever-quotable Audre 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 tumor 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
Bayard 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 nonviolent resistance, something he shared in common with a number of LGBTQ activists.
“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, Marsha P. 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.
“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 James 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.
“I wanted to be even more authentic in my music and let people into my life. I’m much more confident now—in my music, myself, my sexuality, the things that I believe that I stand for.” —Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X changed the music industry forever when he released the hit song “Old Town Road” as a BIPOC country rap artist. He made waves again in 2019 when he came out as gay, and he’s been purposefully loud and proud ever since. This quote about truth and authenticity hints at a future in which the LGBTQ+ community isn’t just allowed to be equal—it’s encouraged and celebrated for its diversity.
“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 life-changing words, 53-year-old Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, 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 President John F. Kennedy and civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr. as inspirations.
“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.
“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, this one played by future Golden Girls star Bea Arthur, made this pronouncement in a 1977 episode of the sitcom called “The Gay Bar.” When her ultra-conservative neighbor, Arthur, incredulously asks if she approves of a new gay bar that has opened in their town, she lobs this zinger at his intolerance. The quote reveals the kindness in the simple act of recognition and acceptance.
“The continual process of unlearning heteronormativity and internalized homophobia can be difficult, but one of the biggest blessings lies in the magic that comes from having to understand love outside the confines of learned heterosexual roles.” —Amandla Stenberg
Amandla Stenberg rose to fame when she was cast in The Hunger Games, then reached superstardom with her star turn in The Hate U Give. But it’s perhaps her outspokenness about gender identity that has had the most profound impact on fans of all generations.
“I encourage other people to be unapologetic about themselves as well.” —Lilly Singh
Lilly Singh is the first bisexual individual to host a late-night talk show on a major American network. It’s no surprise she’d encourage pride and self-love in her interview with PinkNews—her unapologetic attitude took her from a YouTube star to a national celebrity.
“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 honor of being a gay actor getting to portray a gay character on TV.
“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. Garth Brooks, whose late sister Betsy Smittle was a lesbian, sang these lines in the 1992 single “We Shall Be Free,” which he cowrote 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.
“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. Miley 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 can’t just blend in with every other woman and disappear. But why should I have to? Because I don’t think that being trans is anything to be ashamed of.” —Abigail Thorn
Abigail Thorn shocked her fans and Britain when she embraced her identity and came out as transgender in her video Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story. In an interview with the BBC, the YouTuber best known for her Philosophy Tube channel dropped this gem. As Pride Month quotes go, Thorn’s resistance to hiding her true self taps into a universal feeling.
“My thing is, I don’t want people to watch my videos or buy my merchandise if they aren’t going to support not only me but the LGBTQ community.” —Jojo Siwa
Performer Jojo Siwa built a veritable empire before she came out as queer, an announcement that was especially impactful considering her younger audience. Still, she faced her share of backlash, including angry fans threatening to avoid her merch. But in a 2021 interview with People, Siwa emphasized that solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community is more important than money. She continues to make content for her fans and impress upon a younger generation that being true to yourself is what matters most.
“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 his 2015 State of the Union address, he became the first one to acknowledge trans people in any speech.
“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 for as long as he did. Anderson Cooper publicly came out as gay in 2012 to then Daily Beast writer Andrew Sullivan.
“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.
“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.
“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 strength and courage it takes for the LGBTQ+ community to simply exist.
“I got to the place [where] 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 OK. 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.”
“Every day when I get out of bed and I work as hard as I do, it’s to prove my worth.” —Tan France
The premiere of the reality show Queer Eye launched Tan France into overnight stardom, but as he told NPR, the success didn’t convince him of his value. His words bring to light a struggle many in the LGBTQ+ community face as they try to find success in the world. It’s a sentiment that hits home for people of all different intersectionalities.
“I’m telling the world who I am so that I never get the chance to forget.” —Halsey
Musician Halsey has never been secretive about their sexuality; an early career music video (for the song “Ghost”) depicts a relationship between two women. In 2021, they quietly updated the world on their pronouns. Halsey’s activism doesn’t stop with the LGBTQ+ community, though. It intersects their identity as a biracial individual living with bipolar disorder and a chronic illness.
“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.
“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 further normalize same-sex marriage. He also called their marriage “the adventure of a lifetime.”
“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.
“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, Ernest J. 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 and remains an essential book for understanding race relations in America, was adapted into a 1999 TV film that won two Emmys, including Outstanding Television Movie.
“It’s a journey, and we all have a role to play.” —Andrea Jenkins
Andrea Jenkins’s role, it seems, was to make history. As the president of the Minneapolis city council, she’s one of the first openly transgender women (and the first Black trans woman) to hold office in the United States. Her words to Time magazine make for one of the most inspiring LGBTQ+ quotes for the nation’s aspiring politicians.
“How can I feel grateful for my joy and embrace my joy and allow myself to have that joy—but then put that joy and that love into action?” —Elliot Page
Pride quotes don’t always center around being grateful and joyful, but Elliot Page is nothing if not that (and isn’t that a beautiful sign of progress?). After gracing our screens for more than two decades, the actor owned his authentic self and the joy it brought to his life. In this quote from a 2021 Vanity Fair interview, he speaks about a form of activism coming from a place of joy and love rather than fear or anger.
“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.
“I am the love that dare not speak its name.” —Lord Alfred Douglas
Long considered one of the defining quotes of the LGBTQ+ community for referring to the love between two men, the poem “Two Loves” is often incorrectly attributed to Oscar Wilde, whose affair with the much-younger Lord Alfred Douglas led to his being tried for gross indecency in 1895, convicted and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Douglas’s 1892 poem 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. You can find a few of Oscar Wilde’s poems on this list of romantic love quotes that will make you swoon.
“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 quote about life, 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.
“Be the hero or heroine of your own story, of your own life.” —Auli’i Cravalho
Moana star Auli’i Cravalho knows how far fighting for yourself can take you, according to her interview with Harper’s Bazaar. Cravalho is the first Pacific Islander to ever star as a Disney princess, accomplished at just 14 years old. In 2020, she came out as bisexual in Gen Z fashion—on TikTok—and has been advocating for her community in interviews and on social media since.
“So many people foreground my gender. That’s just so boring to me because, truly, the only identity that I’ve ever chosen for myself is artist.” —Alok Vaid-Menon
Alok Vaid-Menon is a multitalented and multidisciplinary nonbinary artist, comedian and writer. They’re currently blazing their way through every barrier and advocating for the degendering of fashion. In this quote from an interview with HuffPost, Vaid-Menon emphasizes the plus in LGBTQ+ and underscores how what it means to be transgender isn’t all it means to be transgender.
“There is no pressure to figure out your entire personality today or tomorrow or next year. Figure out what you need to do right now.” —Bob the Drag Queen
Bob the Drag Queen, an artist and activist best known for her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race, gave this advice to a younger generation in her interview with Seventeen. She reminds everyone that while the world might be pushing us for answers, we have all the time we need to define ourselves by our own standards.
“If you don’t fight, nobody is going to fight for you.” —Ceyenne Doroshow
This quote from the New York City Trans Oral History Project is more than words—Ceyenne Doroshow puts the word “fight” into action. A transgender activist who’s been fighting for decades, she raised more than a million dollars in 2020 to secure housing for BIPOC trans women and has big plans for more advocacy projects to make a real difference in individual lives.
“So many people are willing to have teachable moments. That’s awesome because a lot of…hurt and anger in the past generations have been rooted in truly not understanding or not having access to educational moments.” —Kehlani
Kehlani is a Grammy-nominated LGBTQ+ performer who’s been writing and recording their own music since 2014. In an interview with The Advocate, they stress the importance of being open and teaching people who haven’t previously had a chance to learn.
“So much of my impact and my content is solely centered on my identity and my voice.” —Eugene Lee Yang
You may know Eugene Lee Yang as one-third of the Internet’s iconic quartet The Try Guys, but he’s also a filmmaker, writer and activist. And, of course, gay. Yang broke the Internet with his release of “I’m Gay” and continues to bring his unique vision and perspective to every project he works on.
Additional reporting by Jeremy Helligar.