6 Important LGBTQ Scientists Who Left a Mark on STEM Fields

These important LGBTQ scientists changed the world through science! 

June is Pride Month in the United States, commemorating the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 which are largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBTQ+ movement for civil rights. The riots inspired LGBTQ+ people and allies throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights. Pride Month is a time to recognize past and present struggles and successes in the ongoing fight for civil rights, as well as to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals.

In honor of Pride Month, we’ve rounded up a list of incredible scientists who self-identified as members of LGBTQ+ community and have left a lasting mark on the STEM fields with both their activism and scientific research. Learn more about these important LGBTQ+ scientists and their impact.   

 

Sara Josephine Baker, known for tracking down Typhoid Mary, was openly gay. She contributed greatly to public health in New York City and took particular interest in helping communities of immigrants. She fought to provide access to medical care for all areas of the city and helped train new healthcare professionals. 

 

important LBGTQ scientists included Sarah Josephine Baker

 

Ben Barres was a pioneering neurobiologist at Stanford University. His work on a type of brain cells called glia revolutionized our understanding of the brain. In 2013, Barres became the first openly transgender member elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, an organization that includes many of the United States’ leading scientists.

important LBGTQ scientists include Ben Barres

 

Colin Turnbull was one of the first anthropologists to study ethnomusicology (the study of the music of different cultures). He was an activist in many causes, including prison reform and the celebration of immigrant cultures. He and his partner, Joseph Towles, both died of AIDS. 

important LBGTQ scientists include Colin Turnbull

 

Lauren Esposito is an arachnologist (a scientist who studies spiders and related animals such as scorpions) and the only woman expert on scorpions in the world. She is the co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists, a visibility movement and professional network that boosts the recognition and awareness of LGBTQ+ people working in STEM fields.

important LBGTQ scientists include Lauren Esposito

 

Ruth Gates was a leading marine biologist and conservationist who studied coral reefs. Her work on creating “super corals” that are more resistant to climate change can be seen in the documentary Chasing Coral. She was an inspiration to LGBTQ+ scientists as an out lesbian at the top of her field. 

 

important LBGTQ scientists include Ruth Gates

 

Richard Summerbell is a prominent mycologist (a scientist who studies fungi) and a leading expert on how fungi affect the health of humans and the environment. He has been an LGBTQ+ activity and commentator on HIV/AIDS since the 1970s during the gay liberation movement.

important LBGTQ scientists include Richard Summerbell

Learn more about the LQBTQ+ science community!

Remembering our nation's history is important, and it is equally important to continue working toward our bright future.

The 500 Queer Scientists website is a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people and their allies working in STEM and STEM-supporting jobs — a group that collectively represents a powerful force of scientific progress and discovery. You can learn more about this project via their website at www.500queerscientists.com

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Pulse Nightclub Tribute ♥ How to Fold an Origami Heart

Celebrate Pride by Making These Pulse Nightclub Tribute Origami Hearts

This month, we celebrate Pride – a celebration of both the amazing people who fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and honoring the diverse self-expression and love of our LGBTQ+ community.

 

If you’ve been to the Science Center, you may have seen our Love Bridge – an installation of crystal hearts that hang above you as you walk across the bridge from the garage. This was originally made of origami hearts as a Pulse nightclub tribute in memoriam of the 49 people who lost their lives in June of 2016.

 

The Pulse tragedy deeply affected our community and the people of Orlando have continued to honor the souls we lost that night by working to make sure our city becomes a more welcoming place for all people. Inside each origami heart, our guests and staff wrote messages of what love means to them. We invite you to create your own reminder of love with this origami heart tutorial.

 

As we celebrate Pride, and remember the victims of the Pulse tragedy, we invite you to create your own reminder of love with this origami heart tutorial. 

Materials you will need:

  • Origami paper or a sheet of printer paper you can turn it into a square. 
    Learn how to use any paper for origami paper here.

Before you make any folds in your paper, write a message about love – what does it mean to you? 

h

The "Love Bridge" is a community art project created by guests of the Orlando Science Center to show support for the OneOrlando.org fund and those affected by the PULSE Nightclub tragedy.

 

The 7 colors of the rainbow span the length of the bridge in rows of 4. Each row holds a total of 49 origami hearts which represent the lives lost on that tragic night. The origami hearts were made by the community on One Orlando Night at the Museum and are filled with messages of love and hope.

 

The original origami heart installation has been replaced with a crystal version that will withstand the test of time. The original project was reimagined into a permanent tribute called Facets of Love, which hangs in our STEAM Gallery for all to enjoy. 

A girl fold paper into origami heart for Pulse nightclub tribute
Orlando Science Center One Orlando night, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

 

Expand on the activity!

June is Pride Month in the United States. Pride Month is a time to recognize past and present struggles and successes in the ongoing fight for civil rights, as well as to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals.

 

Meet some of the incredible scientists who self-identified as members of LGBTQ+ community and have left a lasting mark on the STEM fields with both their activism and scientific research.