LGBT Foreign Stamp Gallery
Below is a sampling of the many foreign LGBT themed stamps available. Shown are stamps with subject matter that relates to the country of issue. Topical issues having themes with no connection to the issuing entity, usually promoted by philatelic agents, are not included here. Otherwise, if your favorite(s) are missing, help add to this page by contacting the webmaster who is listed on the “Contact Us” page of this website. He can accept either high resolution scans or actual items; the latter will be scanned and returned if desired. Be sure to provide a brief description of the subject matter, to include how it relates to a LGBT theme.
The sexuality of famous personalities is often open to debate. Even today, many remain in the closet for fear of ruining their career and relationships. For some individuals depicted on the stamps listed below, all we have are clues as their being or possibly being gay, lesbian or bisexual; correspondence that would reveal homosexual relationships was often destroyed after the death of those involved. Also included are some LGBT icons. The biographical sketches below are drawn from Wikipedia, Biography.com, Britannica.com, the Gay and Lesbian History on Stamps Journal, the Lambda Philatelic Journal, and various LGBT websites.
The topic AIDS on stamps is not explored here. This subject matter is comprehensively covered on the AIDS on Stamps website.
Antigua & Barbuda, Scott #1671a
Best known for marrying Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, Antony Armstrong-Jones, first Earl of Snowdon (1930-2017), was a British photographer and filmmaker. He attended Eton and Jesus College, Cambridge, coxing the eights to televised victory in 1950. He was inventive in design, making tiny crystal wireless sets, a gadget for rolling cigarettes, a photographic enlarger from tomato soup cans, and a radiogram. Having suffered polio as a teenager, he would become a tireless advocate for disabled people. Despite marrying twice, Lord Snowdon continually had affairs with both women and men, including Jeremy Fry.
Argentina 2010 Census
Argentina, Scott #2593
Argentina's 2010 Census stamp includes two same-sex couples among the various silouettes of individuals depicted.
Argentina 2014 Marriage Equality
Argentina, Scott #22702
Among 20 stamps issued in 2014 relating to new Argentine laws, policies and regulations was a 50¢ value noting Law 26-618 that established marriage equality in the South American nation.
Armenia, Scott #588
Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) was a Soviet film director who made significant contributions to Soviet cinematography, using a style totally out of step with socialist realism, through Ukrainian, Georgian, and Armenian cinema. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, to Armenian parents, he enrolled in Moscow’s VGIK, one of the oldest and highly respected film schools in Europe. In 1948, he was arrested for homosexual acts with an MGB officer and sentenced to five years, but he was released after three months. He made his first professional film in 1954. Abandoning socialist realism in 1965, he became somewhat a celebrity. He created Sayat Nova in 1969 (re-edited as The Color of Pomegranates). The Soviet film administration sabotaged or banned his projects and plans until he was charged with homosexuality in 1973 and improspmed four year. He returned to film creation in the late 1980s.
Australia, Scott #222
Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson (1867-1922) was an Australian writer and bush poet. He is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period and is often called Australia's “greatest short story writer.”. According to a book released in 2017 by Frank Moorehouse, Lawson may have had a gay relationship with a fellow bush poet, Jim Gordon. (Also known as Jim Grahame.) They met in 1892 when Lawson was 25 and Gordon was 17 or 18. What was supposed to be a three week trip together covering 200 kilometers turned into three months, the men sleeping under the stars. The trip became a significant event for both men. They parted thereafter and did not meet again until 1916. Both men married and fathered several children. Lawson's stormy marriage ended after six years and most of his relationships ended abruptly. Gordon's wife was leery of their friendship.
Australia, Scott #2268
Ian Thorpe (born 1982) is an Australian retired swimmer who won five Olympic gold medals, the most won by any Australian. He qualified for the Australian Championships in 1996 and made his international debut in 1997. The next year, he won an individual and a team gold medal at the World Championships. His first individual world record was set in 1999. He competed at both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics. Ian came out as gay during a 2014 televised interview.
Australia, Scott #2925
Retired diver and trampolinist Mathew Mitcham (born 1988) was the first openly gay man to win an Olympic gold medal. Competing in the 10-meter platform during the 2008 Olympics, he received the highest single-dive score in Olympic history and was the first Australian to receive a gold medal in diving since 1924. He narrowly failed to make the 10-meter platform finals in the 2012 Olympics and has since retired from sports to pursue a showbiz career, appearing sporadically on Australian television and LGBT promotional events.
Australia, Scott #3202, 3203
An openly gay Australian writer born in Brisbane, David Malouf (born 1934) graduated from the University of Queensland and published his first novel, Johnno, in 1975. His Remembering Babylon was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1993. He has also written short stories, poetry, opera libretti, and a play.
Australia, Scott #3754
Patrick White (1912-1990) is the only Australian to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Between boarding school in England and study at King’s College, Cambridge, he worked as a stockman at Bolaro, near Adaminaby, New South Wales, for two years. After joining the British Royal Air Force in World War II, he met his life partner, Greek army officer Manoly Lascaris. Patrick’s novel Voss won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1957. During his career, he published twelve novels, three short-story collections, and eight plays.
Australia, Scott #3836
Openly gay Australian music critic, journalist, record producer, and musical entrepreneur Molly Meldrum (born 1943) was born in Orbost, Victoria, and moved to Melbourne intending to become a disc jockey. In 1966, he started writing for the weekly pop music newspaper Go-Set, and became editor of Gas. He produced Russell Morris’ single, “The Real Thing,“ widely acknowledged as one of the finest Australian pop-rock recordings. Molly worked for the successful and popular television music series Countdown from 1974 to 1987, initially as talent coordinator, then onscreen in his “Humdrum” weekly segment. In 1986, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia. He is openly gay.
Australia, Scott #4038, 4043
Celebrity chef Kylie Kwong (born 1969) was one of the honorees in the 2014 Legends of Australia stamp series that honors living Australians. Kwong opened her first restaurant in 1999 and has since hosted several Australian television shows as well as appear on the Australian version of Master Chef. She and the artist known as Nell have been together since 2006.
Australia, Scott #4905, 4910
English born Australian author Morris Gleitzman (born 1953) writes children’s and young adult fiction, having more than 40 books under his belt, many of which have serious themes. The most controversial at the time of publication was Two Weeks with the Queen (1990) in which the young protagonist meets two gay men, one of whom eventually dies from AIDS. In February 2018 Gleitzman was named the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2018/2019.
Australia, Scott #4906, 4911
Leigh Hobbs (born 1953) is an artist and author of humorous and gently subversive children’s books that are popular in Australia and the United Kingdom. His books principally feature the characters Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig, Mr. Badger and Mr. Chicken, plus characters from the 4F for FREAKS books. He was the Australian Children's Laureate for 2016-17 and lives in Melbourne with his partner Dmetri Kakmi. He appeared on one of the 2019 Legends of Australia stamps.
Following a 2017 survey that showed about 61.6% of almost 12.7 million respondents favored the removal of discrimination against same sex couples, Liberal senator Dean Smith introduced just a day after the release of the survey results a marriage equality bill to the Australian parliament. The bill passed the parliament on December 7, 2017 and received royal assent from the Governor-General the following day, coming into effect on December 9, 2017. The first same-sex wedding under the law occurred six days later.
Australia, Scott #s to come
Originally from Liverpool, England, Magda Szubanski (born 1961) is an Australian television and film actress, comedian and writer. Her mother is Scottish-Irish and her father was Polish, having been in the counter-intelligence branch of the Polish resistance during World War II. She attended school in Australia and got her start in comedy on television, where she has produced much-loved characters, especially the people-pleasing, accident-prone Sharon Strzelecki in Kath and Kim, depicted on the stamp. She also played Esme Hoggett in both Babe movies, and voiced Miss Voila in the two Happy Feet films. She came out in 2012 and was a leading voice in support of same-sex marriage. She released her award winning memoir in 2015.
Austria, Scott #2269
Austria issued a stamp in 2010 to note the 15th anniversary of Vienna’s Rainbow Parade.
Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine
Belgium, Scott #2416
French poets’ Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) and Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) are forever linked due to a short but tempestuous relationship that began in 1871 when 16-year old Rimbaud sent copies of his poems to Verlaine, already an eminent symbolist poet 10 years older than Rimbaud. Verlaine, though married at the time, sent a one-way ticket to Paris for Rembaud, who moved into their home. Verlaine, unlike Rimbaud, had repressed his homosexuality; he quit his regular job, began drinking and abandoned his wife. The pair’s ensuing wild and torrid affair was spiced by absinthe, opium and hashish. While in London, Verlaine decided he had enough and left Rimbaud to meet his abandoned wife but quickly missed Rimbaud. An attempt by the pair to reconcile in Brussels ended badly, with Verlaine shooting Rimbaud during a drunken rage. Rimbaud survived while Verlaine ended up in prison for two years. Rimbaud quit writing poetry at age 21 in favor of a steady working life. Verlaine continued to write verse but by the 1880s his best days had passed.
Belgium, Scott #1989; France, Scott #B654
Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine de Crayencour (1903-1987) was one of the most famous French writers of the 20th Century. Born in Brussels, her mother died a little over a week after giving birth to her. She inherited her love of books from her father. Her first book was published in 1921 under the pen name, Marguerite Yourcenar, which she took as her official name in 1947. Her masterpiece is Mémoires d’Hadrien, a historical novel constituting the fictionalized memoirs of 2nd-century Roman emperor Hadrian. In 1939, a planned short vacation to visit Grace Frick, whom she met two years earlier, became permanent due to World War II. The couple settled on Mount Desert Island in Maine and Marguerite became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1947. In 1980, she was the first female elected to the Academie Francaise, with the president of France granting her dual U.S.-French citizenship so she could meet the French citizenship requirement of the Academie.
Brazil, Scott #2298
An openly bisexual Brazilian singer and songwriter, Cazuza (1958-1990) was born in Rio de Janeiro, son of a record producer and an amateur singer. He began to write lyrics and poems in about 1975. His singing career began with the 1980s successful rock band, Barão Vermelho. In 1985, they appeared in the first Rock in Rio festival. Cazuza contracted HIV and spent the rest of the decade singing solo.
Brazil, Scott #3413
Renato Russo (1960-1996) was the lead singer of alternative rock band Legião Urbana (translates as Urban Legion). He was the subject of the biographical Brazilian film, Somos Tão Jovens. He publicly came out as bisexual in 1988 in his song, “Meninos e Meninas.” He died due to complications from AIDS.
Canada, Scott #1615c, 2738, Great Britain, Scott #3294a
Scottish-Canadian animator, director and producer Norman McLaren (1914-1987) began his work and experimentation in animation in the early 1930s. He was hired in 1936 by the UK General Post Office film unit on the recommendation of a fellow Scot, John Grierson, who was familiar with McLaren’s work. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, McLaren moved to New York City. Grierson invited him to Canada in 1941 to work for the National Film Board of Canada. McLaren’s His most famous film Neighbors (1952), won the best documentary Academy Award in 1953, a scene from which appears on a 1996 Canadian stamp. On the centenary of his birth in 2014, both Canada and Great Britain issued stamps noting two of his other films. In London in 1937, McLaren met his life-long partner, Guy Glover; they remained in a committed relationship until McLaren’s death in 1987.
Canada, Scott #1966
Cecil Youngfox (1942-1987) was born to Ojibway and Metis parents in Blind River, Ontario, Canada. He was awarded the Aboriginal Order of Canada for his work in preserving his native heritage. Youngfox and his partner, Alberto Decastro, were active in the Toronto gay community according to his great-niece. Youngfox died in 1987 due to complications from AIDS. His painting, Winter Travel, is depicted on the 2002 Canadian Christmas U.S. rate stamp.
Canada, Scott #2215
A Canadian architect and urban planner, Arthur Erickson’s (1924-2009) buildings can be found throughout Canada and the world. He resided in Vancouver, British Columbia with his life partner, Francisco Kripacz, until the early 1980s. Though they separated romantically, they remained business partners until Kripacz’s death. Erickson eventually returned to Vancouver where he remained until his passing. In addition to the 2007 issue depicted here, another stamp, issued in 1997, shows his Museum of Anthropology building at the University of British Columbia (Scott #1778).
Canada, Scott #2279d
Canadian-American actor Raymond William Stacy Burr (1917-1993) is primarily known for his title roles in the television dramas Perry Mason and Ironside. Before television, Burr starred in more than 50 films, usually as a villain. Scenes including him were spliced into the 1954 and 1956 American versions of Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. Burr’s homosexuality, an open secret, was not reported until his death. By then, he had been living with his life partner, former actor Robert Benavides, for more than 30 years. A U.S. stamp with Burr as Perry Mason was included in the 2009 Early TV Memories issue.
Canada, Scott #2270
Pop and country singer Kathryn Dawn Lang (born 1961) goes by her stage name k.d. lang is best known for her hits Constant Craving (1993) and Miss Chatelaine (1994). She has contributed songs to movie soundtracks and has occasionally appeared in films as well on television. She has collaborated with musicians such as Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Elton John, Anne Murray, Ann Wilson, and Jane Siberry. Lang, who came out as a lesbian in June 1992, is also known for being an animal rights, gay rights, and Tibetan human rights activist.
Canada Marriage Equality
Canada, Scott #2999h, #3007
After several Canadian provinces legalized same-sex marriage in prior years, the right was legally recognized nationwide with the Civil Marriage Act of July 20, 2005. A stamp within a souvenir sheet and inside a self-adhesive booklet, issued in 2017, noted the landmark gay rights legislation.
Chile, Scott #300, 1149
Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Chilean national narrative, especially during the Pinochet years, elevated her as “Schoolteacher of America,” a celibate, saintly, and suffering heterosexual national icon. The publication of her letters to lover Doris Dana revealed otherwise. Gabriela was an accomplished poet, educator, and consul to Mexico, Europe, Brazil, and the United States. In addition to those shown, she has appeared on nine other Chilean stamps, Scott #826-29, #C192 and #1541a-d.
China, Republic of, Scott #4473
Zheng Xie (1693-1765) was born in poverty and rose through the exam system to become a magistrate. He painted and wrote poetry, becoming one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou. He was the official calligrapher and painter for the Qianlong Emperor. Zheng Xie had a celebrated homosexual relationship with his young page.
Fight Against Discrimination
Cuba, Scott #5439
One of four AMERICA (UPAEP) stamps highlighting the fight against discrimation includes the topic of homophobia. The stamps were first distributed on October 12, 2013.
Czechoslovakia, Scott #2432
Czech writer Jaroslav Haek (1883-1923) authored The Good Soldier vejk, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures. Based on his experiences as a Czech soldier during the war, the work has been translated into 58 languages as of 2013, making it the most available novel in Czech literature. While writing short stories for varied publications, Haek led a vagabond, bohemian life style, first favoring anarchist ideas, then after the war’s end embracing socialism while in the Soviet Union. His two marriages, first in 1910 in his homeland and again in 1920 in Russia, were brief; though he never legally ended the first one, due to the lack of order after the war, he avoided being tried for polygamy upon his return to Czechoslovakia in late 1920. His sexual orientation is disputed by scholars, but literary historian Jindřich Chalupecký in The Strange Haek Study in Expressionists writes about the subject based on the testimony of Haek’s friend Rudolf imanovský. Morbidly obese, Haek began writing The Good Soldier vejk in 1921, dictating the text after he could no longer write and continuing until his passing.
Denmark, Scott #1770-71
In 2017 The Danish postal service, PostNord, introduced two rainbow-colored stamps to highlight the fight for LGBTQ equality and celebrate diversity. The Swedish division of PostNord issued a pride stamp the previous year.
Tom of Finland
Finland, Scott #1467
Homoerotic artist Touko Laarksonen (1920-1991), who used the pseudonym as Tom of Finland, attributed his fetishistic interest in uniformed men to encounters with men in army uniform, especially soldiers of the German Wehrmacht while he was serving in the Finnish army during World War II. He gave up his day job with an advertising agency in 1973 to devote full time to his drawings; gay pornography had become more popular in the U.S. after being decriminalized a decade earlier. The 2014 stamp sheet depicting his art was the most popular Finnish issue ever, garnering orders from 178 countries, and generating only minimal controversy that was limited to Finnish conservatives.
France, Scott #B651: Monaco, Scott #1678
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was a poet, novelist, painter, playwright, film maker, set designer, and actor. He began writing at age 10 and was a published poet by age 16. His exploration of theater began with “Ballets Russes”, the company of Sergei Diaghile. During World War I, he served as an ambulance driver on the Belgian front. After the war, he met 16-year old poet and novelist prodigy Raymond Radiguet, who died five years later and left Cocteau in profound grief. Consequently, Cocteau became addicted to opium and wound up in a sanatorium. Recovering by the mid-1920s, he produced the play Orphée (1926) and his best known novel Les Enfants terribles (1929), followed by his greatest play La Machine infernale (1934). Though he always remained a poet at heart, he turned to films, all rich with symbolism and surreal imagery. His favorite actor was Jean Marais, who was Cocteau’s lover from 1937-47. Marais appeared in almost every one of Cocteau’s dozen films. Cocteau is regarded as one of the most important avant-garde directors in cinema.
France, Scott #4671
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an American pop artist who first gained public attention during the late 1970s with chalk outline figures sketched on unused black advertising space in New York City subways. He pursued the outline figure style throughout his brief career, gaining international acclaim in the early 1980s. His later works often included political and societal themes, such as homosexuality and AIDS; he died due to complications from the latter. This stamp in the long-running French art series depicts a mural he created for the Paris’ Necker Hospital, the world’s first pediatric hospital.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, Scott #2052
An established writer by age 25, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) works span the fields of poetry, drama, literature, theology, humanism, and science. His two-part drama Faust is lauded as one of the greatest in Western literature. From 1775 on, he lived in Weimer, where he also became involved in public service. In 1806, he legitimized an 18-year relationship with Christianne Vulpius. They produced five children, four of whom died young. Although Goethe celebrated the feminine in verse and courted some of Europe’s most beautiful women, in a 1997 book, German historian and journalist Karl Hugo Pruys posited the literary giant was at heart not a ladies’ man. “I wanted to write a book about the love that Goethe felt, about love in general in Goethe’s life,” Pruys said in an interview. “Then I got onto a trail dominated by homosexuality.” His source was 2,500 surviving letters to and from Goethe. Other scholars say Pruys simply misunderstands the “Sturm und Drang” (storm and stress) spirit of the times, when young, intellectual dandies expressed strong, even erotic emotion toward each other. Goethe has appeared over the years on numerous German, DDR and occupation zone stamps.
Johann Joachim Winckelmann
Germany, Scott #2996
Art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) was a pioneering Hellenist who first articulated the difference between Greek, Greco-Roman and Roman art. Winckelmann’s private letters reveal his quest for ideal love relationships with cultured young men. In his works and correspondence Winckelmann sought to revive the ancient ideal love between males. The German Democratic Republic also issued a stamp depicting Winckelmann (Scott #939).
Germany, Scott #3053
One of the most important theorists of sexuality and gay rights advocates of the early 20th century was Mangus Hirschfeld (1868-1935). Born to Jewish parents, he obtained a medical degree in 1892, first establishing a medical practice in Magdeburg in 1894 and then moving to Berlin two years later, where he became actively involved in the study of sexuality. He maintained that sexual orientation was innate and not a deliberate choice. Along with Max Sphor, Franz Josef von Bülow and Eduard Oberg, he established the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the world’s first gay rights organization. His most notable publications were Yearbook of Sexual Types (1899-1923), The Transvestites (1910) and Homosexuality in Men and Women (1914). In 1919, he opened the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, whose library and archives were destroyed in 1933 by Nazi demonstrators. Different from the Others (1919), a film he helped produced that called for decriminalization and acceptance of homosexuality, was banned within a year. A gay man himself, he was regularly assaulted and his lectures disrupted by Nazi supporters. Upon completing an international speaking tour in 1932, he settled in Switzerland and then in 1934 moved to France, where he died the following year.
Alexander von Humboldt
Germany Berlin, Scott #9N281; Mexico Scott #2176
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a Prussian polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer, and influential proponent of Romantic philosophy and science. He traveled extensively during his lifetime and between 1799 and 1804 explored and subsequently described the Americas for the first time from a modern scientific point of view. His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years. He became one of the most famous men in Europe, and among many other things, proposed that the South American and Africa continents were once joined and that humans could induce climate change. Humboldt never married and early biographers described him as asexual; contemporary biographers don't agree on the issue. However, his sister-in-law Caroline von Humboldt stated “nothing will ever have a great influence on Alexander that doesn't come through men.” He had many strong male friendships, and at times had romances with men. He destroyed his private letters before his death. During the bicentennial of his exploration of the Americas, he was postally feted by many of the countries he visited.
Gibralter, Scott #1436
Field Marshal Lord Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) was a British Army officer who won notoriety for his imperial campaigns, especially for his scorched earth policy and concentration camps against the South African Boers and for his early role in World War I. He was born in Ballylongford, County Kerry, Ireland, before being raised in Switzerland and attending the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He surveyed western Palestine, helped reconstruct the Egyptian Army, invaded Sudan, commanded the Second Boer War, and was Commander-in-Chief in India. At the beginning of World War I, he was appointed Secretary of State for War with responsibility of raising new armies and running the war effort. Lord Kitchener had no interest in women and had relationships with railway builder Sir Percy Girouard, officer Francis Aylmer Maxwell, and aide-de-camp Oswald Fitzgerald, with whom he lived and died.
Gibralter, Scott #735-38
John Charles Galliano (born 1960) is a Gibraltar-born British-Spanish fashion designer. He was head designer for his own label, Givenchy and Christian Dior. In 2011, he was suspended from Dior after reports of anti-Semitic outbursts in Paris. In 2013, he made a comeback and is currently the creative director at Maison Margiela. He resides in Paris with his long-term boyfriend Alexis Roche, a style consultant.
Great Britain, Scott #1503, new # to come
Publius Aelius Hadrianus (76-138) is known as the third of the Five Good Roman Emperors, the other being Nerva, Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. Rather than pursuing the expansionist policies of Trajan, his predecessor, he preferred development of stable, defensible borders and the unification of the empire's disparate peoples. Reigning for 21 years, Hadrian undertook substantial building projects throughout the Roman Empire, including rebuilding the Pantheon in Rome and erecting Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain. He married around the year 100 as a political expediency; the marriage proved childless and unhappy. Over the years, he had a number of favorites, but his intense relationship with Greek youth Antinous is evidenced by numerous surviving statues of the teenager. Hadrian met the Antinous around 123 and they soon became companions. Hadrian was devasted by the youth’s untimely death in 130 in Egypt. Antinous was deified, the Egyptian city of Antinopolis was established, and an Antinous cult was propagated throughout the empire.
Great Britain, Scott #1859
British singer, songwriter, and record producer Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), is regarded as one of the greatest lead singers in the history of rock music. Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar to Parsi parents from India, he attended English-style boarding schools in India from the age of eight and returned to Zanzibar after secondary school. His family fled the Zanzibar Revolution, moving to Middlesex, England. Having studied and written music for years, he formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. He wrote numerous hits for Queen, including Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody to Love, We Are the Champions, Don't Stop Me Now, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS. Though his relationships with other men are well documented, Mercury remained closeted to the end, referring to Mary Austin, to whom he was married from 1970-1976, as “the love of his life.
Great Britain, Scott #2391
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. His extant works consist of 39 plays, 154 sonnets, and two long narrative poems. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, he married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway in haste in 1582. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he left his family and moved to London where he began a successful career as actor, writer, and part-owner of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Expressions of homoerotic feeling, gender confusion, and male couples exist in several of his plays. Two narrative poems on sexual themes, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, are dedicated to William’s beloved (platonic) patron, Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton. The first 126 of his sonnets are addressed to a handsome young man referred to as “better angel” and “master-mistress of [his] passion.” The last 26 sonnets concern the “dark woman” who took the handsome young man away. On the 400th anniversary of his birth in 1964, numerous stamps with his image, or scenes from his plays, were issued worldwide, including a set of five stamps from his native land.
Great Britain, Scott #3005
The man who cracked the code to win World War II was mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954). In 1936, he published his paper, On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, establishing what became to be known as Turing machines, leading to the central concept of the modern computer. During World War II, Turing worked at Bletchley Park to break German ciphers, concentrating on cryptanalysis of the German Enigma machine. Shortly after the war's end, he was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. In 1952, he published his masterpiece, The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis, partially explaining things like spots and stripes on animals and why the human heart is on the left side of the chest. During a police investigation for a burglary at his home that same year, Alan disclosed his homosexuality. At trial for gross indecency, he was given the choice of either imprisonment or probation conditioned on chemical castration. He chose the latter; his housekeeper found him dead 14 months later, the cause being either suicide, as per the official inquest, or from accidental cyanide poisoning, as others have theorized. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 included what is commonly known as the “Alan Turing” law, pardoning those convicted for acts that are no longer considered offences.
Great Britain, Scott #3388
Comedian, writer, actor, author Graham Chapman (1941-1989) was one of the six members of the surreal comedy group, Monty Python. Born in Leicester, he began studying medicine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he met John Cleese. He toured New Zealand in the Footlights show, Cambridge Circus, before entering St. Bartholomew’s Medical College. Chapman and Cleese began to write professionally for the BBC. Despite success on the television show, At Last the 1948 Show, he graduated and became a registered doctor. He met his long-term partner, David Sherlock, in 1966. In 1969, Monty Python was born, beginning with the sketch comedy series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Five feature films followed. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
Great Britain, Scott #3876-3883, #3884a
Sir Elton John (born 1947) is one of the world’s best-selling musical artists with more than fifty Top 40 hits. His debut album, Empty Sky, appeared in 1969. His first hit single, “Your Song,” appeared the following year. He has received five Grammy Awards, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. Receiving knighthood in 1998, John has been openly gay since 1988 and is married to Canadian filmmaker and former advertising executive David Furnish. (Click on image to see a larger one in a new window)
Arthur C. Clark
Great Britain: Isle of Man, Scott #1950
Joining Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov as one of the “Big Three” of science fiction writers of the 20th century, Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s (1917-2008) biggest claim to fame was as a co-writer of the 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) screenplay. Clarke married in 1953, but separated within six months; not until 1964 was a divorce finalized. In 1956, he moved to Sri Lanka and remained there until his death. He had an extremely close relationship with a Sri Lankan man, Leslie Ekanayake. They are buried next to each other in Colombo's Central Cemetery. Clarke did not publicize his sexuality, but would answer truthfully if asked. In addition to the 2018 Jersey issue shown here, he also appears on a Sri Lankan stamp issued in 1998.
Great Britain: Guernsey, Scott #1201
Olympian Carl Hester (born 1967) was raised on the Channel Island of Sark where a mail box is painted gold in his honor. He won the 1985 Young Dressage Rider Championship on Jolly Dolly before riding in the 1990 World Championships on Rubelit von Unkenriff. In 2012 at Barcelona, Carl became the youngest British rider to ever compete in an Olympic Games. As part of the dressage team, he won a gold medal riding Uthopia. In 2013, he was appointed as a Member of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Carl won a silver medal riding Nip Tuck as part of the dressage team. He currently owns an equestrian yard in Gloucestershire. Carl is openly gay.
Great Britain: Isle of Man, Scott #1836-41
Christopher Kenneth Biggins (born 1948) is a British stage actor and television personality. He has also made a few film appearances, appearing as a Transylvanian in the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). He was married to Beatrice Aston for a few years in the 1970s, but is now openly gay. He entered into a civil partnership with Neil Sinclair in 2006. Christmas Pantomimes by Christopher Biggins appeared on Isle of Man stamps in 2016. Pantomime is a musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment, performed mainly in Britain during the Christmas and New Year’s season. Although Biggins is not mentioned on the stamps, his name does appear on the Isle of Man’s official first day cover.
Alexander the Great
Greece, Scott #638
By the age of 30, Alexander the Great’s (356BC - 323BC) had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, spending most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa. His sexuality continues to be debated as ancient Greeks were quite fluid in their relationships. His life-long close companionship with his boyhood friend Hephaestion is well documented, though he did marry to produce an heir. Alexander has appeared on numerous Greek stamps.
Nuuk Gay Pride
Greenland, Scott #700
Greenland’s gay pride stamp was issued in 2015. Nuuk Gay Pride, held annually in June, began in 2010 and features concerts, films and a parade.
Reykjavic Pride Parade
Iceland, Scott #1304
Reykjavic's annual pride event was launched in 1999 and attracts 100,000 visitors, almost one-third the population of the entire country. The week-long event that includes a parade that was featured on one of the stamps in the 2013 town festivals issue.
Ireland, Scott #479, #1232
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900) is best known for his wit and flamboyance, and his literary efforts, with his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the play The Importance of Being Ernest his most lasting legacies. His criminal conviction for “gross indecency” and subsequent imprisonment led to his early death at age 46 in France, where he was buried. (Click on images to see more Oscar Wilde stamps)
Ireland, Scott #2085-88
Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was an Irish-born and French-based architect and furniture designer. Born Kathleen Eileen Moray Smith, after the death of a maternal uncle in 1895 she became the 19th Baroness Gray and was known as Eileen Gray thereafter. Gray’s art education began in London in 1900, but she moved to Paris in 1902 then returned to London a few years later to be with her ailing mother. By 1907, she was back in Paris, training with Seizo Sugawara in the art of lacquer furniture; both left France after the beginning of the World War I. Returning to Paris in 1917, she soon opened her own shop. Gray and Jean Badovici had a romantic relationship. Badovici encouraged Gray's growing interest in architecture, resulting in the modernist E-1027 villa, built in the south of France near Monaco. Badovici and Gray split in 1931, and Gray designed and built another house nearby. Gray was bisexual, mixing in the lesbian circles of the time, being associated with Romaine Brooks, Loie Fuller, Marie-Louise Damien, and Natalie Barney. Her intermittent relationship with the singer Damien ended in 1938.
Patrick Henry Pearse
Ireland, Scott #2107b
After his execution, Patrick Henry Pearse (1879-1916) was seen by many as the embodiment of the Irish quest for independence. He grew up surrounded by books where he promised God that he would dedicate his life to Irish freedom from British rule. A schoolmaster and an advocate of the suppressed Irish language, his Irish Volunteers joined the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and 200 women of Cumann na mBan, in seizing key locations in Dublin on Easter Sunday in 2016. In front of the main post office in Dublin, he proclaimed an Irish Republic. After six days of fighting, he ordered a surrender and was executed the following month. His lack of sexual interest in women has been speculated by some psychologists as due to Asperger’s syndrome. Other historians and biographers have noted that his interest in boys and extracts from some to his poetry indicate he was not asexual. Pearse shows up on two other Irish stamps, released in 1966 (Scott #209) and 1979 (Scott #460).
Kathleen Lynn and Elizabeth O’Farrell
Ireland, Scott #2107g
Kathleen Lynn (1874-1955), shown with Elizabeth O’Farrell (1883-1957) on a 2016 Irish issue noting the centenary of the failed Easter Uprising for Irish independence, was chief medical officer for the Irish Citizen Army. She met Madeleine ffrench-Mullen in 1913 and together they founded St. Ultan's Hospital in 1919, living together until ffrench-Mullen's death in 1944. Lynn died in 1955. O'Farrell was a nurse along with Julia Grenan during the Easter Rising. OFarrell delivered the surrender along with Pearse, depicted on another stamp in the 2016 issue. A photograph was taken though she had taken a step back. Her feet were airbrushed from the photo. She and Grenan are buried next to each other in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland.
Ireland, Scott #2107p
Diplomat and Irish revolutionary Roger Casement (1864-1916) worked for Henry Morton Stanley in the Congo, where he met Joseph Conrad. He joined the Colonial Service before working for the British Foreign Office as consul. Commissioned by the Balfour Government, he produced the hugely influential 1904 Casement Report, detailing human rights violations in the Congo Free State. Sent to Brazil, Roger reported in 1910 on abuses against natives in Putumayo, Peru. He was knighted in 1911 for these investigations. Retired from consular service, he helped form the Irish Volunteers in 1913. Hoping to recruit an Irish Brigade from Irish prisoners of war, he traveled to Germany where he helped secure arms that were later intercepted at sea. Three days before the 1916 Easter Rising, he arrived back in Ireland via German U-boat. He was shortly discovered and arrested before he was charged, tried, and finally executed in August 1916. While at trial, the prosecution produced Casement’s diaries from 1903, 1910, and 1911, rife with detailed homosexual activity. He also appears on Irish stamps issued in 1966 (Scott #214-15) as well as another 2016 stamp not shown (Scott #2099).
Japan, Scott #1783-86
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan, is recognized as the greatest master of haiku. Born near Ueno, in Iga Province (now western Mie Prefecture), the first extant poem by him was published in 1662. He wrote, “there was a time when I was fascinated with the ways of homosexual love. Biographers note that he was involved in same-sex affairs throughout all his life and that among his lovers were several of his disciples. The Narrow Road to the Interior (Oku no Hosomichi), considered his finest achievement was finished in 1694 and published in 1702
Liechtenstein, Scott # to come
In 2019, Liechtenstein and Switzerland jointly issued four stamps commemorating Social Diversity, including two stamps featuring Throng, by Luigi Olivadoti, which appears to depict a Pride gathering with a Rainbow Flag, created by Gilbert Baker.
Luxembourg, Scott #1407b
In Nazi concentration camps, each prisoner wore a downward-pointing triangle cloth badge, or in the case of Jews, the Star of David (i.e. superimposed upward and downward triangles). The color of the badge identified the reason for imprisonment. Eventually a pink triangle designated for homosexual men, bisexual men, and transgender women. Lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men, when imprisoned and identified as such, were classified as “asocial”, designated with a black triangle. The stamp shown here is part of a Luxembourg set marking the end of World War II.
Luxembourg, Scott #1425
Gender equality and principles of equal treatment are priciples of European law, with the Center for Equal Treatment being established in 2006 to support victims of discriminations on all grounds.
Mexico, Scott #1440
Ramon Novarro (1899-1968) was born in Durango, Mexico, and accompanied his family to Los Angeles in 1913 to escape the revolution. He began his career in silent films in 1917, and his first major success was 1923’s Scaramouche. His greatest success was starring in 1925’s Ben-Hur. His career continued in the talkies, including starring with Greta Garbo in 1931’s Mata Hari, and in television into the 1960s. He had romantic relationships with composer Harry Partch, journalist Herbert Howe, and Noël Sullivan.
New Zealand, Scott #1750, #1837, #1901
Sir Ian Murray Kellen (born 1939) is an English actor now widely known for his film roles. However, his early successes were in the theater, his first professional role being a Roper in the Belgrade Theater’s production of A Man for All Seasons. Four years later, he debuted in London's West End district and by the 1970s and 1980s was performing frequently at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. Early on, McKellen began taking film and television roles as well, but his appearances in Hollywood blockbuster film like the X-Men series and the Lord of the Rings trilogy extended his fame. His stepmother was unfazed when he told her he was gay. He has had several long term relationships over the years and publicly came out during a 1988 BBC radio program debate over an anti-gay law proposed in parliament.
Norway, Scott #255-58
Composer and pianist Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was born in Bergen and started piano lessons at age six. He studied the instrument at the Leipzig Conservatory and made his concert debut in 1861. He moved to Copenhagen and married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup, in 1867. From 1874 to 1876, he composed incidental music to accompany Henrik Ibsen’s play, Peer Gynt, including the famous excerpt, “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” He was music director of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra from 1880 to 1882. Late in life, he met and fell in love with Australian composer Percy Grainger.
Love Knows No Gender
Philippines, Scott #TBA
On February 6, 2020, the Philippines released four stamps celebrating Valentine’s Day, including one featuring a rainbow heart with the text, “Love Knows No Gender.” The country name and denomination are also in rainbow colors, unlike the other three stamps with inscriptions of “Love Nature,” “Love for Country” and “Love Yourself.”
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky / Van Cliburn
Russia, Scott #2046
The inaugural Tchaikovsky Piano and Violin Competition was held in 1958, with the upset piano winner being Van Cliburn, then a 23-year old Fort Worth, Texas, native. Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1993), whose works are familiar even to those who have no interest in classical music, kept his homosexuality private. He did have a 13-year association with widow Nadezhda von Meck, who was his benefactor despite the pair having never met. He suffered from depression and died early, the cause officially being cholera while others say his death was either accidental or self-inflicted. Like Tchaikovsky, Harvey Lvan “Van” Cliburn (1934-2013) was private about his sexuality, which became public when a palimony suit was filed by his partner of 17 years. Russia has issued numerous stamps over the years honoring Tchaikovsky.
Spain, Scott #1387
One of the foremost Spanish dramatists of the 20th century, Jacinto Benavente (1866-1954) was born in Madrid and was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy in 1912. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1922. In the late 1940s, he was blacklisted by the Franco government, possibly because of his homosexuality: his name could not appear in Spanish press. His plays, however, were not banned. He wrote 172 works. He never married and according to many sources, he was homosexual.
Fredrico Garcia Lorca
Spain, Scott #2946; Mexico, Scott #2078
Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (1898-1936) was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director. He left his native Granada in 1919 for Madrid to study music, but turned to writing poetry and plays, achieving international recognition as a member of the Generation of ’ 27, a group of mostly Spanish poets. By 1929 he was in New York, publishing a collection Poet in New York. Returning to Spain in 1930, he directed theater for the new Republic government and by the mid-1930s produced his greatest works, the trilogy Blood Wedding, Yerma and The House of Bernard Alba. The Spanish civil war broke out in July, 1936 when conservative generals rose against the leftist Republican government. Lorca was executed the following month, probably due to his Republican sympathies. His body or bones have never been found. A Franco-era report dated July 9, 1965, described the writer as a “socialist” and “freemason belonging to the Alhambra lodge,” who engaged in “homosexual and abnormal practices.”
Spain, Scott #3163
Luis Cernuda (1902-1963) was born in Seville, Spain, and graduated from the University of Seville with a law degree. In 1927 he moved to Madrid and met other young writers, including Federico García Lorca and Vicente Aleixandre, and his poems were read in homage to the great Spanish poet Luis de Góngora. Because of these homages, the group of young poets became known as the Generation of 1927. After reading Louis Aragon and other French writers and recognizing the social stigma attached to his homosexuality, he was drawn toward surrealism. It would allow him to express himself more freely in his books Un río, un amor (A River, A Love) (1929) and Los placers prohibidos (Forbidden Pleasures) (1931). Abandoning surrealism, his most famous book, La realidad y el deseo (Reality and Desire) was published in April 1936. Fleeing the Civil War, Cernuda taught at the University of Glasgow and the University of Cambridge before lecturing at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and at UCLA.
Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba
Spain, Scott #4094
Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (1453-1515) was a Spanish general and statesman who led successful campaigns during the Conquest of Granada and the Italian Wars. He was born at Montilla, Córdoba, and he fought for Isabella during the civil war over her accession. He married Mara de Sotomayor in 1474 and María Manrique de Lara y Figueroa in 1489. Córdoba revolutionized military strategy by integrating firearms into the Spanish infantry and directed the first battle in history won by gunpowder small arms, the Battle of Cerignola in 1503. Various sources from the 16th century cite his homosexuality.
Fredrico Garcia Lorca
Spain, Scott #4156b
Mariano Eusebio Gonzáles García (1914-1970), better known as Luis Mariano, was a popular Spanish singer in both Spain and France. His family fled from Spain to Bordeaux, France at the start of the Spanish Civil War. He took up singing and sang in numerous stage shows and became known as the “King of Operetta”. In 1943, he appeared in his first major film. Never married, Mariano’s family and avid fans deny he was gay; several biographers have come to a different conclusion.
Spain, Scott #4283
Gloria Fuertes García (1917-1998) was a Spanish poet, short story writer, playright and author of children’s literature. She is linked to the first Spanish literary movement after the Civil War, 1950’s Generation or postism. She worked in children’s magazines in the 1940s and 1950s, and she was co-founder of “Verses in Skirts,” a group that organized concerts and poetry readings in bars and cafes. One of her most known works is Three Wise Queens: Melchora, Gaspara y Baltasara, published in 1978 and now a children's literature classic in Spain. She became better known in the 1970s, after her collaborations on Spanish children’s television shows. Academic sources indicate she was a a pacifist lesbian, defending equality between men and women, and fighting for the environment.
Spain, Scott # to come
Spain's 2020 rainbow flag stamp commemorates the Pasaje Begoña, an alley in Torremolinos, a beach town on the Costa del Sol where the country first gay bar opened in 1962. By 1971, the alley had become an epicenter of a thriving gay scene in conservative spain, then ruled by the oppressive dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco. On June 24, of that year, a massive police raid resulted in as many as 400 persons being arrested and fined astronomical amounts. As many of those arrested were tourists, the raid brought international condemnation. Decades passed before Torremolinos regained popularity as a tourist destination. The last line on the stamp translates Cradle of Gay Rights.
Sweden, Scott #1386c, #2517
Swedish-American actress Greta Lovisa Gustafsson (1905-1990), who adopted the stage name Greta Garbo, was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, earning three Oscar nominations during that time. Her later films faltered, prompting her to retire from the screen after 1941. She had many love affairs throughout her life. She thrilled audiences dressed in men’s tuxedos, and wearing pants before it was the style. Both men and women flocked to Garbo’s movies. Garbo is quoted as saying: “I could not choose between love for a man or love for a woman ... I became a slave to both sexes ... I was equally fascinated by both female and male bodies.” For the centennial of her birth in 2005, the U.S. issued a stamp almost identical to one in the pair shown here.
King Gustav III of Sweden
Sweden, Scott #2069
Gustav III (1746-1792) was King of Sweden from 1771 until his assassination in 1792. He was born in Stockholm, and he grew precociously experienced in the art of dissimulation. He married Danish Princess Sophia Magdalena in 1766, and for consummation, his parents requested actual physical instruction, reportedly because of anatomical problems of both spouses. Gustav had relationships with courtiers Axel von Fersen the Younger, Gustav Mauritz Armfelt, and Johan Fredrik Aminoff. He travelled to Paris and visited his uncle, Frederick the Great, before accession. After he quelled a coup d’état, he delivered his famous philippic, viewed as one of the masterpieces of Swedish oratory. Enthusiastic for the ideas of the French enlightenment, he worked towards reform. As a prelude to obtaining Norway from Denmark, he first conducted the Russo-Swedish War, which included the greatest naval victory ever achieved by the Swedish Navy. The war and his abolishment of the old privileges of the nobility led to his assassination at a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm.
Sweden, Scott #2141
Jan Rikard Wolff (1958-2017) was a Swedish stage and screen actor and singer. His career included film roles in House of Angels (1992) and its two sequels. He was openly gay and in those movies played the gay sidekick of a granddaughter who inherits a mansion in a small community that is divided by their presence. A scene from the movie appears on a 1995 Swedish motion picture centennial stamp.
Sweden, Scott #2774
Christina (1626-1689) became Queen of Sweden at the age of almost six. She is remembered as one of the most learned women of the 17th century. Before her father died in the Thirty Years’ War, he secured that Christina should receive an education of the type normally afforded only to boys. She learned at least seven languages besides Swedish. Her closest female friend was Ebba Sparre, with whom she shared a bed. In 1645, she founded Ordinari Post Tijdender, the oldest currently published newspaper in the world. In 1649, Christina announced that she had decided not to marry. She suffered a nervous breakdown in 1651, and in 1654 she abdicated her throne, probably because she planned to become Roman Catholic and because she had become unpopular. She left the country dressed in men’s clothes, eventually settling in Rome. She wrote passionate letters to Ebba Sparre, and while visiting Paris, ladies were shocked by her masculine appearance and demeanor. Near the end of her life, she wrote that she was neither Male nor Hermaphrodite, as some People in the world have pass’d me for.
Sweden, Scott #2493c
Eva Dahlgren (born 1960) is a Swedish pop musician. Her debut album was released in 1978. Her breakthrough in Sweden came in 1991 with the hit album En blekt blondins hjärta. She married jewelry designer Efva Attling in 2009. .
Sweden Rainbow Flag
Sweden, Scott #2774
The rainbow flag made its philatelic debut on this 2016 Swedish stamp. According to the news release announcing the stamp, more than 30 localities had pride events the prior year. PostNord, jointly owned by the Swedish and Danish governments, issued two pride stamps (Scott #1770-71) for Denmark the following year.
Switzerland, Scott # to come
In 2019, Liechtenstein and Switzerland jointly issued four stamps commemorating Social Diversity, including two stamps featuring Throng, by Luigi Olivadoti, which appears to depict a Pride gathering with a Rainbow Flag, created by Gilbert Baker.
Uruguay, Scott #2661
Angela Davis (born 1944) graduated from Brandeis University, University of California at San Diego, and Humboldt University (East Berlin), and is professor emerita at University of California at Santa Cruz. She worked with the Black Panther Party during the civil rights movement. She was a member of the Communist Party until 1991 and was twice their candidate for vice president of the United States. She is an accomplished writer, lecturer/speaker, and political activist. She identified as lesbian in 1997 in Out magazine.
Free and Equal
UN-NY Scott #1127-28; UN-Geneva Scott #613-14; UN-Vienna Scott #579-80
In 2016, the United Nations issued six stamps, two for each of its main offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna, to publicize its Free and Equal campaign to stand up for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. The stamps were designed by out artist Sergio Badarat, a graphic designer of Cuban descent who often creates works in the French Art Deco style and is currently the U.N. Postal Administration’s art director.