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Pride Icon Names Celebrate Diversity

June 14, 2020 Emma Waterhouse
pride icon names

Pride 2020 was always going to be a special occasion.

June 2020 marks fifty years since the first Pride parades took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, commemorating the Stonewall Riots of the previous summer. But no one could have predicted just how different Pride Month 2020 would turn out to be.

Despite – or rather, because of – everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, it’s more important than ever to celebrate diversity and to champion the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community.

To mark this special fiftieth anniversary of Pride, today’s blog focuses on some iconic figures of the LGBTQ+ movement – all with equally iconic names, of course!

You can read more about the history of Pride here, or follow the links in the descriptions to find out more about the inspiring figures featured below.

16 Pride Icon Names

Audre: Long before the concept of “intersectionality” was on anyone’s radar, writer, feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde was shining a light on the most marginalized in society. Her name – a streamlined spelling of contemporary classic Audrey – boasts the fitting meaning of “noble strength”.

Bayard: A close associate of Martin Luther King and the chief architect of the 1963 March on Washington, Bayard Rustin has only recently started to receive the recognition he deserves for his lifetime of activism. His intriguing name comes from a French word meaning “russet red”.

Edie: A trailblazing campaigner for marriage equality, Edie Windsor famously fought the US federal government in a landmark 2013 lawsuit which paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage across all states two years later. Cute retro nickname Edie ranks below the Top 1000 in the US, but just outside the Top 100 in nickname-loving Britain.

Gilbert: Artist and LGBTQ rights activist Gilbert Baker may not be a household name, but you’re sure to recognize his most famous creation: the rainbow flag. Genteel Gilbert is one of the edgiest old man names for boys right now, but looks like it could be on the cusp of a revival.

Gracy: A veteran of the Stonewall riots, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has been a lifetime advocate of transgender rights, and was the original leader of the TGI Justice Project. Gracie is the more popular spelling of the name in the US, but the -y ending feels a little less sweet and a little more sleek.

Harvey: A name that almost didn’t make the list due to the legacy of convicted sex offender Weinstein, but the great Harvey Milk deserves to be celebrated! As California’s first openly gay elected official, he achieved a great deal for the LGBTQ community during his short tenure, which ended in tragedy when he was assassinated just ten months after entering office. Harvey is a genial old-timey name which is a Top 100 pick in Australia, NZ and the UK.

Jazz: The youngest activist on this list, TV personality and LGBTQ rights campaigner Jazz Jennings has spent more than half her life publicly documenting her own transition. Jazz is an appealing choice that has surprisingly never caught on, despite its fashionable sound and cool musical connections

Kahlo: Renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was openly bisexual, and used her art to explore her sexuality and other topics considered taboo at the time. Her famous surname would make for an inspiring artistic baby name; interestingly, it’s only ever made the US list for boys.

Lili or Lilli: The story of Lili Elbe, one of the earliest known recipients of gender confirmation surgery, was fictionalized in the book (then film) The Danish Girl. Another famous bearer is journalist and LGBTQ rights activist Lilli Vincenz. These -i ending forms of Lily have historically been most popular in Germany and Hungary.

Lyon: Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin made history when they became the first same-sex couple to marry in Californiatwice, after their first marriage was voided. Lyon, who was also a lifelong activist, passed away in April this year. This fierce surname name could make an excellent underused alternative to the “Leo” family of names.

Magnus: In 1897, German physician Magnus Hirschfeld founded the world’s first LGBTQ rights organization in Berlin, and was a vocal campaigner for the decriminalization of sexual and gender minorities. Meaning “great”, Magnus is a strong Scandinavian option that entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2013.

Marsha: One of the most iconic figures of the Stonewall movement, Marsha P. Johnson also co-founded the Gay Liberation Front and several other organizations geared towards campaigning and supporting marginalized groups. Peaking in the 1950s, Marsha has a gentle homespun feel but a fittingly fierce meaning: “warlike”.

Rivera: A close friend and associate of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera was an especially vocal advocate for groups she felt were overlooked even by the LGBTQ community, such as the homeless. Her stylish first name is already climbing back up the popularity charts, but surname-meets-nature-name Rivera is also worthy of consideration.

Sappho: Ancient Greek poet Sappho was a celebrated lyricist in her lifetime and beyond, and is the origin of the words sapphic and lesbian – from Lesbos, the Greek island where she was born. With other o-ending girls’ names like Cleo and Juno on the rise, Sappho could make for a striking alternative.

Stormé: Dubbed the “Rosa Parks of the LGBTQ community”, it’s rumored that it was Stormé DeLarverie who kickstarted the rebellion at Stonewall. She was also an influential entertainer and activist. Her intriguing name is pronounced like the word stormy.

Wolfson: Attorney Evan Wolfson has dedicated his career to campaigning for same-sex marriage, founding the organization Freedom to Marry in 2003 and serving as its president until marriage equality was made law in 2015. Wolfson is another fierce-sounding surname name which we think has serious baby name potential.

Read next:

Top Baby Names 2020

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

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