A blog about (hidden) Amsterdam


A blog about (hidden) Amsterdam

LGBTQ+ Mischief-makers

During Pride Month, it’s easy to focus on the selfless and inspirational figures of LGBTQ+ history. We thought we’d celebrate with some LGBTQ+ people who raised (sometimes necessary) hell. Here are some LGBTQ+ people from the past who were badasses in every sense of the word.

1. Julie d’Aubigny, also known as La Maupin. You know you’re a hellion when the king must pardon you twice! La Maupin was a popular performer who fenced, dressed in men’s clothes, and had numerous affairs with both men and women. She had to be pardoned for burning down a convent in the process of escaping with her lover. She later attended a royal ball dressed as a man, monopolized the attention of a popular lady, and then kissed her in the middle of the dance floor. When the lady’s three suitors challenged her to duels, she defeated each one. The king was so entertained that he pardoned her again. (You can read our thoughts about her here.)

2. Oscar Wilde. This celebrated playwright used his wit as a weapon, often when quarreling with other artists. He said of Shaw that “He has no enemies and none of his friends like him”, of Whistler that “Popularity is the only insult that has not yet been offered to Whistler” and of Pope that “There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.” While it ended up being his downfall, it was also badass that Oscar sued his boyfriend’s father for slander rather than be publicly insulted.

3. Marsha P Johnson. It may be strange for a woman known as “Saint Marsha” to be on a list of mischief-makers, but she did start a riot with “the shot glass heard round the world”. In addition to being a mother figure for trans youth, she led trans women to fight back when the police raided Stonewall on June 28, 1969. (The story says she threw a shot glass at the bar mirror as she was being arrested.) The resulting riot became a turning point in the modern gay rights movement. When she and other trans women of color were later excluded from the first Pride March, Marsha and a few other women jumped in front of the parade.

4. Lydia Zijdel. This utter badass is a fighter in every sense of the word. She came out in a Dutch society that was still wrestling with LGBTQ+ liberation and later became one of a large group of lesbians who cared for gay men during the AIDS epidemic. When a car accident confined her to a wheelchair at age 31, she responded by getting deeply into martial arts. She eventually developed a martial arts course for disabled people that spread across the world. Her international renown even got her an invitation to referee at the Gay Games and advise on disability issues at the EU and UN.

5. James Baldwin. While he is rightfully revered for his place in literary history and his equal rights activism, his confrontational flair sometimes doesn’t get enough credit. It started early when a young Baldwin sat in a café where he thought he’d be denied service because of his race. When he was, he responded by throwing a glass that broke a mirror. As he grew in stature, he continued to speak about racism and homophobia in a way that was as blunt as it was poetic. Baldwin believed that “nothing can be changed until it is faced” and spent his life holding a mirror to people who would rather look away.

As we celebrate LGBTQ+ history month, let’s remember to celebrate the community’s full spectrum!

And if you want to learn about some more incredible LGBTQ+ badasses in Amsterdam, join us on our LGBTQ+ History Tour!

Ready for one of our tours?

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