English soul singer Dusty Springfield (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien) was one of the top female artists of her generation. She took her stage name from her first group, the folksy-sounding Springfields, but left soon after to pursue a solo career that would last nearly four decades; although her popularity dwindled beginning in the 1970s, the inclusion of “Son of a Preacher Man” on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack triggered a revival. Her album Dusty in Memphis was ranked as the 89th greatest of all time by Rolling Stone, and she has been honored in both the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame. Springfield’s lesbianism was the focus of an off-Broadway musical based on her life.
British/New Zealander stage and screen writer and cult film actor Richard O’Brien (the stage name of Richard Timothy Smith) was the mastermind behind The Rocky Horror Show, a queer gothic musical comedy that has generated a robust, ritualized midnight screening tradition. (He also originated the role of Riff Raff and played him in the film adaptation.) O’Brien’s career has also extended into eccentric television program hosting, including the popular UK game show The Crystal Maze, for which he was selected because he fit the show’s “Dungeons and Dragons” vibe.
Although O’Brien was assigned male at birth and continues to use male pronouns, he identifies as “70% male, 30% female,” and uses the term transgender to refer to himself.
James VI and I, who has been described as “the most effective ruler Scotland ever had,” takes his two numerical titles from his reign there and in England, the fusion of which created the kingdom of Great Britain. He was an intellectual who penned several books, lent his name to the King James Version of the Bible, and played the rivalries of Scottish family factions against each other to consolidate power. His ambitions and belief in absolute monarchy justified by divine right made him unpopular in England, culminating in first the gunpowder plot and then the rebellion against his son. Although historians disagree on James’s homosexuality or bisexuality, the favoritism he showed to several male courtiers did nothing to help his case.
Bisexual American dancer Isadora Duncan based her career on a rejection of the highly technical ballet popular in the 19th century and the embrace of a more freeform, natural style inspired by Greek artwork. She began teaching dance as a child before moving to Britain after limited professional success in the United States. Although her attempts to found her own dance schools floundered, her influence did spread, bringing a new aesthetic to American and Western European dance; what troupe she did forge she called the Isadorables. Her memoir was published soon after her accidental death, and was written due to a sharp decline in her fortunes as age made performing less of a possibility and her sympathy for the Soviet Union left her unpopular. A dance company named after her now performs her pieces with an all-female troupe.
Aleister Crowley, the man who called himself “The Great Beast 666” and became known in the British press as “the wickedest man in the world,” was an infamous cult leader who founded his own religion dedicated to the mantra, “Do what thou wilt.” After finding the Hermetic Organization of the Golden Dawn lacking in its dedication to the occult (and himself unpopular due to his bisexuality and sexual libertinism), he set out to outdo it, and wrote the first of many texts while in Egypt. His practice turned to a focus on sexual magic (part of his overall philosophy of Magick) and he opened up a house for his disciples that was later seized upon by tabloid journalists. He was also a poet and a skilled (though callous) mountaineer. His popularity spiked in the 1960s after his death, and he even appears on the Beatles’ album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hears Club Band.
A full-length documentary on Crowley, complete with spooky music and handheld camera footage, is available here.
When British fiction writer Nicola Griffith pled her case to emigrate to the United States her clearance came with a then-unheard of justification: it was, according to the State Department, “in the National Interest” to allow her to stay. Although the majority of her online hype at the time of this posting is focused on her historical fiction novel Hild (planned as the first of a trilogy based on the life of Saint Hilda of Whitby), she has also written in the science fiction and urban fantasy genres; in addition to her immigration approval (controversial because Griffith is a lesbian), she has also been honored with several awards, including a Nebula, Lambda, and James Tiptree, Jr. prize.
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein lead a tumultuous life of both creative and temperamental outbursts. He was a student of some of the most famous names in his field, Bertrand Russell included, but always left their company feeling disillusioned. His own linguistic take on philosophical questions was groundbreaking and earned him recognition as one of the 20th century’s most important philosophers. Outside of academia he was decorated for his bravery during the first World War, and briefly taught at a school for young children where he gained a reputation for his corporal punishments and obsession with mathematics. He also studied mechanical engineering.
Despite being described as a gay philosopher, Wittgenstein had several female lovers interspersed with his male ones, including one he proposed to, indicating that he may be more accurately described as bisexual. He avoided sex itself, claiming that it got in the way of love; for that reason he is also (tentatively) tagged here as asexual.
While it should not be taken as biographical fact, Wittgenstein has received the high honor of a dedicated Uncyclopedia page.