LGBTQ+ Innovators who Influenced Mobility Today

In honor of Pride month, SpotHero is highlighting LGBTQ+ innovators who helped revolutionize modern mobility. Their contributions have helped fuel a brighter future, today and into tomorrow!

Ellen Broidy (b. Unknown): Activist and Co-Founder of Pride

Broidy was a student at New York University in the late 1960s, where she was president of the Student Homophile League (later renamed the Gay Liberation Front). Following the events of Stonewall, Broidy, along with fellow activists Linda Rhodes, Craig Rodwell and Fred Sargeant, proposed a march to take place annually on the last weekend in June. The event, known as Christopher Street Liberation Day, was named after the street where the Stonewall Inn was located. Broidy worked to coordinate events with local and national gay rights organizations over the following year, and her work paid off: The first Christopher Street Liberation Day March was held June 28, 1970, and was eventually rechristened as “Pride.” Broidy would go on to become a research librarian, and taught Women’s Studies at the University of California before retiring.

Pete Buttigieg (b. 1982): First Openly Gay U.S. Cabinet Secretary

Buttigieg was mayor of his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, for eight years, and gained national attention after announcing his intention to run for President in 2020. Buttigieg became the first openly gay candidate to win a presidential primary or caucus, and was later appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation in 2021, making him the first openly gay U.S. Cabinet Secretary. Through his position, Buttigieg has worked to increase equal access to public transportation and improve employment opportunities for those seeking roles in public works, as well as an advocate for improving rail networks and transportation infrastructure across the country.

Allan Gilmour (b. 1934): First Openly Gay CFO

Gilmour joined the Ford Motor Company as a Financial Analyst, working there for 30 years and rising to Vice Chairman before retiring in 1995. Gilmour publicly came out as gay after his retirement, and eventually was asked to return to Ford in 2002 as CFO and Vice Chairman to help Ford navigate a change in leadership. This made him the first openly gay C-Suite executive of an American company. Gilmour successfully saw Ford through their leadership change before retiring again in 2005. He would go on to be the interim President of Wayne State University, and devotes most of his free time to charitable organizations, including many local and national LGBTQ+ charities and causes. 

Sally Ride (1951-2012): First Lesbian Astronaut

Ride was still a physics student when she saw an ad in her college newspaper encouraging women to apply to NASA in 1977. Intrigued, Ride applied and ultimately joined NASA in 1978. In 1983, Ride became the first American woman in space and the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space as she joined a space shuttle mission to operate the Challenger shuttle’s robotic arm. Ride left NASA in 1987, she went on to teach physics at UC San Diego and became director of the California Space Institute. While Ride did not discuss her sexual identity with the general public, she is now known to be the first openly lesbian astronaut and the first space traveler known to have been LGBTQ+.

Bayard Rustin (1912-1987): Political Organizer and Equal Rights Activist

Rustin was a committed civil rights and equal rights activist. Amongst his earliest contributions was his organizing of the Journey of Reconciliation. Rustin worked with fellow activist George Houser to organize nonviolent protests by planning bus rides by black passengers on interstate buses throughout the American south. In April 1947, Rustin set out with 17 fellow activists on a two-week journey through North Carolina to protest local laws that enforced segregation on transportation, even though it had been declared unconstitutional the year before. While Rustin’s protest received limited attention at the time, the Journey of Reconciliation is now regarded as the first Freedom Ride. Rustin later became a highly influential political advisor, advising Martin Luther King, Jr. among many others, and was one of the main organizers of the March on Washington in 1963. 

Alan Turing (1912-1954): Mathematician and Code Breaker

A brilliant mathematician, Turing joined the British war effort in 1939 to assist in trying to decrypt Enigma, the secure cipher device used in Nazi communications. Turing and his team worked tirelessly for years to develop strategies to decrypt the massive amounts of data, including inventing automated devices that could interpret codes and help map troop movements and understand Nazi strategies. It’s estimated that Turing’s contributions helped shorten WWII by two years, saving millions of lives. Turing is now regarded as the father of modern computer science and artificial intelligence, and his work helped pave the way for many computational advancements.

Happy Pride!