LGBT Foreign Stamp Gallery
Below is a sampling of the many foreign LGBT themed stamps available. Shown are primarily stamps with subject matter that relates to the country of issue. Unless there is no other source, 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 “Contacts Us” page of this website. Either high resolution scans or actual items are acceptible; 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 up to the year 2016 on the AIDS on Stamps website.
Romania, Scott #4695
Fashion designer Christian Dior (1905-1957) was born in Granville, Normandy, and grew up in Paris. In 1928, he and Jacques Bonjean opened an art gallery that shuttered in 1931. There, he met intimate friend, Pierre Colle. From 1937, he was employed by fashion designer Robert Piguet until the war. After leaving the army in 1942, he worked at the fashion house of Lucien Lelong. He opened his own fashion house in 1946. His first collection was named the New Look by Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes.
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.
Russia, Scott #2144, #4369
Lyric poet Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925) was raised by his grandparents in Konstantinovo, Ryazan. He began to write poetry at age nine. In 1912, with a teacher’s diploma, he moved to Moscow. He enrolled in Chanyavsky University, but had to leave after 18 months due to lack of funds. His three-year marriage to Anna Izryadnova began in 1913. He first published a poem in 1914, and in 1915, he moved to St. Petersburg, where he met and lived with intimate friend, Nikolai Klyuev. Sergei’s rise to fame was meteoric. He was drafted in 1916, and in the following year, began his four-year marriage to Zinaida Raikh. In 1918, he met and shared a flat with Anatoly Marienhof. They founded the Russian literary movement of imaginism. His less-than-a-year marriage to Isadora Duncan began in 1922. In 1925, he married Sophia Andreyevna Tolstaya, but died less than a year later. His most meaningful love poems are addressed to men, including his suicide poem, Farewell, my friend, farewell.
Russia, Scott #5611
John Reed (1887-1920) was an American journalist, poet, and communist activist. He was born in Portland, Oregon, and enrolled at Harvard in 1906. After graduation, he started with The American Magazine in New York. Hoping to establish himself as a freelance journalist, his breakthrough arrived with The Saturday Evening Post. In 1913, he joined the staff of The Massed, and the same year, he suffered his first arrest for attempting to speak on behalf of New Jersey silk mills strikers. He shared the perils of Pancho Villa’s army to report on the Mexican Revolution and went to Colorado to investigate the Ludlow massacre. He had an affair with Mabel Dodge, and at the beginning of World War I, he travelled Europe, reporting as war correspondent. His book, The War in Eastern Europe, was published in 1916. Later that year, he married Louise Bryant. The following year, the pair travelled to St. Petersburg and witnessed the October Revolution. He went to work for the new People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and gave a speech to the Third Congress of Soviets promising to bring the news of the revolution to America. His book, 10 Days that Shook the World, was published in 1919. Indicted for sedition, he fled America for Moscow. He attempted to return but got only as far as Finland. He died of typhus in Moscow. While in New York, he lived in the bohemian Greenwhich Village and associated with some LGBTQ friends, notably Emma Goldman, Frances Perkins, Carl Van Vechten, Charles Demuth and Amy Lowell.
Russia, Scott #5754
Born in Karevo, Pskov, Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) started piano lessons at age six, and entered the Cadet School of the Guards at age 13. Upon graduation he received a commission with the Preobrazhensky Regiment, the foremost regiment of the Russian Imperial Guard. He became a fixture at composer Alexander Dargomyzhsky’s soirées. In 1858, he resigned his commission to devote himself to music while working as a civil servant for income. In 1867, he finished the original orchestral version of Night on Bald Mountain. His opera, Boris Godunov, premiered in 1874. The piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition, was completed in the same year. Objects of Modest’s affections include composer Mily Balakirev, painter Viktor Hartmann, and poet Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov. He described his furtive homosexual liaisons, forever “within an ace of discovery, within an inch of love.”
Russia, Scott #7133; Ukraine Scott #765
Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was a dramatist born in Sorochyntsi, Poltava, Ukraine, and from 1820 to 1828, he studied at what is now known as Nizhyn Gogol State University. He moved to St. Petersburg and published his first volume of Ukrainian stories in 1831. He wrote the novel, Taras Bulba, in 1835, and his comedy, The Government Inspector, was first performed the following year. He spent twelve years abroad before returning to publish his novel, Dead Souls, in 1842. It established his reputation as the greatest prose writer in the Russian language. While in Italy, he fell in love with Count Iosif Vielhorsky. (click on image to see a larger one in a new window)
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 theater 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.
Mariano Eusebio Gonzáles García, aka Luis Mariano
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, playwright 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 #4447
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 #532-34
Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was constantly writing poetry as a child and was educated at the Royal Seminary in Stockholm. She taught school for ten years before meeting her companion, Sophie Elkan. One of her most popular books, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, was published in 1902. (click on image to see entire set of three)
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 a full-face 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. However, the first purposeful depiction of the rainbow flag occurred three years earlier, on a stamp from Uruguay. PostNord, jointly owned by the Swedish and Danish governments, issued two pride stamps (Scott #1770-71) for Denmark the following year.
Switzerland, Scott #1743
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.
Saints Sergius and Bacchus
Ukraine, Scott #434c
Saints Sergius (or Serge) and Bacchus were early fourth-century Roman Christian soldiers revered as martyrs and military saints by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches. According to the Greek text known as The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus, their covert Christianity was discovered when they attempted to avoid accompanying a Roman official into a pagan temple. Refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter, they were publicly humiliated by being chained, dressed in female attire and paraded around town. They were sent to Barbalissos in Mesopotamia to be tried by Antiochus, the military commander there and an old friend of Sergius. Antiochus could not convince them to give up their faith, however, and Bacchus was beaten to death. The next day Bacchusֺ spirit appeared to Sergius and encouraged him to remain strong so they could be together forever. Over the next days, Sergius was also brutally tortured and finally executed at Resafa, where his death was marked by miraculous happenings. Although most historians reject the theory their relationship was a romantic one, the possibility has led to popular veneration of Sergius and Bacchus in the gay Christian community.
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.
United Nations, Scott #1132-33
Marcos Chin is an openly gay, award-winning illustrator. He was born in Mozambique, but his family emigrated in the mid-1970s due to civil war. After spending some time in Portugal, they eventually wound up in Toronto, Canada, where he grew up and spent much of his life. He said he didn't come from an artistic family but always liked to draw, so he went to art college and chose the path of illustration. His illustrations were widely praised and he currently teaches at New York’s School of Visual Arts. (click on image to see a larger version in a new window)
Campaign Against Discrimination
Uruguay, Scott #2456
One of the most socially liberal states of South America, Uruguay issued in 2013 a “Campaign Against Discrimination” stamp reproducing Eugéne Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People, with the rainbow flag replacing the French one. This is the first purposeful depiction of the rainbow flag on a postage stamp. The stamp, a part of the AMERICA series, appeared in approximately 6,000 numbered sheets of eight. See the related stamp from Cuba.
Vatican City, Scott #387
Michelangelo (1475-1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. While attending the Humanist academy founded by the Medicis in Florence, he sculpted his first work in marble, Madonna of the Stairs. He went to Rome in 1496 and completed his masterpiece, Pietô, at age 24. He returned to Florence to complete another masterpiece, David, in 1504. Back in Rome he started work on Pope Julius II’s tomb and spent four years painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, completed in 1512. Pope Paul III ensured that he completed The Last Judgement in 1541. Michelangelo wrote over 300 sonnets and madrigals. The longest sequence of sonnets and personal correspondence reveal his romance with Tommaso dei Cavalieri.
Vatican City, Scott #1683
Gaius Octavius (63 BC – 14 AD) was a Roman statesman and military leader who became the first emperor of the Roman Empire in 27 BC. Octavious was born in Rome and raised in Velletri and elected to the College of Pontiffs in 47 BC. The following year, he joined Julius Caesar in Hispania. He was named as heir and prime beneficiary of Caesar’s will. Afterwards, Octavius took the name Gaius Julius Caesar and was called Octavian. After Caesar’s assassination, he assembled an army, returned to Rome, and defeated Mark Antony in Cisalpine Gaul. He, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate in 43 BC. They defeated Caesar’s assassins at the Battle of Philippi. Octavian divorced Clodia Pulchra, claiming the marriage was never consummated. He married Scribonia, then after little more than a year, divorced her to marry Livia Drusilla. Lepidus was ejected from the Triumvirate, and Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra in the Battle of Actium in 30 BC. In 27 BC, the Senate proclaimed him Augustus, and by 23 BC, he was effectively emperor. According to Mark Antony, Augustus was sexually available to Julius Caesar in Hispania. Augustus prostituted himself to Aulus Hirtius in Hispania for gold, and his constant companion was Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.