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18 Real-Life LGBT Villains
The LGBT movement has produced plenty or heroes and role models -- but we're not all paragons of virtue. The connivers, power brokers, self-haters, and plain old maniacs of history also boast diversity in orientation and identity. Here's a list of the most notorious LGBT people in modern history.
1. Roy Cohn
First coming to prominence as henchman to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the heyday of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, homophobic homosexual Roy Cohn also assisted in expelling LGBT employees from the State Department in the "Lavender Scare." Years later, he also became a mentor to future president Donald Trump, somehow still making the world less welcome for the marginalized, years after his 1986 death from AIDS-related complications. He may be most remembered from Al Pacino's unflattering portrayal of the man in Angels in America. Roger Stone would later say: "Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men."
2. J. Edgar Hoover
The founding director of the FBI had a history of violence and proclivity for extortion. He once sent a threatening letter suggesting Martin Luther King, Jr. commit suicide. He wiretapped political enemies and allies, and would rather infamously go after such high-profile political opponents as John Lennon. And among many hypocritical acts, he launched the Sex Deviates program to badger LGBT Americans, as documented in Hoover's War on Gays,despite his own long-running relationship with Clyde Tolson.
3. Nicky Crane
This British Neo-Nazi acted as the bald-headed face of the European skinhead movement through the early 1980s, attacking blacks in public spaces, serving once as an unfortunate face of the musical style known as oi and occasionally storming anti-racism concerts. But the whole time, he also led a secret gay life, and even starred in pornographic films. Crane died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1993.
4. Ernst Röhm
This German Army captain became one of the early organizers of the Nazi Party, even predating Adolf Hitler in his involvement, and would become the chief organizer of the notorious Sturmabteilung, or Storm Troopers, according to Brittanica. It was Rohm, a mentor to Hitler, who turned the Brownshirts from a small militia into a massive force and instrument of oppression during the Third Reich. But his ambitions led to conflict with Hitler, who had his Cabinet member executed without trial as part of the Fuhrer's Night of the Long Knives consolidation of power. Despite the Third Reich's persecution of homosexuals, Rohm was openly gay and had opposed anti-homosexuality flanks in the party platform, but had no apparent problem enforcing a crackdown on homosexuality in Germany, much less with participating in book burnings or experimentation on concentration camp prisoners, according to historian Matthew Wills.
5. Michael Kuhnen
One the founders of the modern neo-Nazi movement, Michael Kuhnen got expelled from the German Army in 1977 for dispersing Nazi propaganda before founding the Action Front of National Socialists, as documented by Martin Lee in his book The Beast Reawakens. He would come out in 1986 as gay while in prison, but remained a prominent leader in the movement until shortly before his death in 1991 from an AIDS-related illness.
6. George Rekers
A psychologist and minister, Professor George Rekers served on the founding board for the Family Research Council and became a prominent advisor for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, testifying against gay adoption to the Florida and Arkansas legislatures while becoming an "expert" on the atrocious practice of "ex-gay therapy." But a 2010 report in the Miami New-Times revealed that Rekers had taken a vacation with a rent boy, effectively ending his career as an expert on curing homosexuality.
7. Magdalena Solis
Known to those who worshipped and reviled her as the High Priestess of Blood, prostitute Magdalena Solis got recruited by a pair of Mexican cult leaders, Santos and Cayetano Hernandez, to pose as a reincarnated goddess. The cult took advantage of local villagers, encouraging them to clear out caves and turn them into temples, where they would later drink blood and participate in giant orgies, with Solis preferring sex with women. Solis convinced herself of her own divinity, and when some cultists expressed a desire to leave, she ordered them ritually killed. At least eight people died on Solis's orders, including a 14-year-old boy and a police officer who respectively witnessed and investigated activities. Solis would be sentenced to 50 years in prison for the murders.
8. Russell Veh
The founder of the extremist National Socialist League political party, this California fascist published Nazi propaganda and limited membership of the party exclusively to gay white supremacists. The group heavily recruited gay Nazis in the San Francisco area starting in 1974, but the fringe movement would sputter out in the late 1980s, a history documented in the frightening Encyclopedia of White Power.
9. Marshall Applewhite
An Army veteran and son of a Presbyterian minister, Marshall Applewhite spent decades in the closet before being fired from the University of St. Thomas after an affair with a male student. While checked into a mental hospital seeking a "cure" for his homosexuality, he got involved with New Age and sexless spirituality with partner Bonnie Nettles, according to a Washington Post profile, and got himself castrated. But mutilating himself was just a start. He soon became the leader of the Heaven's Gate cult in California, along with Nettles. The group made international headlines in 1997 when its 39 members, including Applewhite, committed mass suicide in anticipation of a spaceship following the Comet Hale-Bopp. When police discovered the corpses, all members looked similar and seemed to have taken on andogynous identities, with all the biological males having been castrated.
10. Jim Jones
Jonestown will best be remembered for its horrible ending, when members murdered a U.S. Congressman and members of his delegation during a visit to the Guyana cult headquarters, then drank poisoned Kool-Aid in one of history's deadliest mass suicides. But the tyrannical abuse of leader Jim Jones preceded the fatal events of 1978. Former Peoples Temple pastor David Parker Wise has since disclosed that Jones would recruit homosexuals into his church and have sex with them to prove they were gay (he preached he was the world's only true heterosexual despite a prior arrest for propositioning a vice officer). Wise says Jones engaged in affairs with men inside and outside the church from the beginning.
11. Stephen Port
A London-based serial killer, Stephen Port would use the Grindr app to find victims before dumping their bodies in the suburb of Barking. The Sun reported that Port specifically targeted "twinks," who he would drug with GHB and then rape them while they were unconscious or dead. Port in 2016 was found guilty of murdering four victims and raping three more.
12. Jeffrey Dahmer
One of the most notorious serial killers of all time, the Milwaukee Cannibal killed at least 17 male victims between 1978 and 1991. Dahmer committed his first murder when he was 18; he took hitchhiker Steven Hicks home for drinks and then killed him so he wouldn't leave, according to the Crime Museum. He later started picking men up in gay bars and killing them at his home before having sex with their dead bodies. He was finally caught after one man lured into his home escaped and flagged down police, who found a collection of severed limbs and heads inside Dahmer's abode. He would die in 1994, killed be another inmate at Columbia Correctional Institute.
13. Andrew Cunanan
No one would need to miss designer Gianni Versace if not for the murderous actions of serial killer Andrew Cunanan. According to Biography, Cunanan at one point had become a popular and respected person in San Francisco's welcoming gay scene, socializing with wealthy men while in his early 20s. But he would become involved in drugs and pornography before contracting HIV and setting upon a killing spree. He murdered former lover Jeff Trail and three others before moving to Miami, where he shot Gianni Versace to death in front of his Miami Beach mansion. That sparked a major manhunt, which ended with Cunanan being cornered in a Miami boathouse and killing himself before he could be taken into custody.
14. Tracey Wiggington
The Australian woman would be branded as the "Lesbian Vampire Killer" after she, her girlfriend Lisa Ptachinski, and two friends lured a man into a vehicle so that Wiggington could murder him and drink all of his blood. According to the Gulf Coast Bulletin, she would confess to the crime and say she felt nothing as she watched the man die. Australian media reports also suggest this wasn't the first time she partook of blood, and that she would drink from Ptachinski's slit wrists regularly.
15. Aileen Wournos
The rare female serial killer took the lives of seven in Florida over 13 months, while posing as a hitchhiking prostitute. Her troubled life story inspired the film Monster, with Charlize Theron's depiction of Wournos winning her an Oscar. Through the bulk of her killing spree, she lived with partner Tyria Moore, who would testify against Wournos in trial. Wournos was executed in 2002.
16. Gwen Graham
The Grand Rapids, Mich., nursing aide would be convicted in 1989 of smothering five patients under her care to death. Her long-time partner Cathy Wood testified in court that she stood lookout while Graham repeatedly committed her crimes. The pair reportedly took souvenirs from victims to keep in their home. But after Graham started seeing another woman, Wood confessed the crime to her ex-husband, who eventually notified authorities. Graham got sentenced to life in prison without parole.
17. Cathy Wood
Investigative reporters later found that Cathy Wood's own version of events in the Michigan nursing home killings -- while enough to get her sentenced to 20 to 40 years -- may have shifted blame to her ex-lover. In gathering news for the book Forever and Five Days, Lowell Cauffiel found people who claim Wood had framed Graham for the stories, and that at least the first murder had been Wood's idea. The book suggests Wood may have involved Graham as a way of preventing her partner from ever leaving her, and turned when that did not work.
18. Jerome Brudos
If you've ever rolled your eyes at the psychotic representation of trans people in The Silence of the Lambs, you can blame Jerome Brudos. The South Dakotan became fascinated with wearing women's clothing as a child, to the point he started stealing panties from neighbors, according to Biography. He as he grew older, he also developed a more dangerous fetish for violence and soon started assaulting women and taking their clothes. Authorities believe he committed his first murder in 1968, when he strangled a woman and dismembered one of her feet to model shoes; he later take women's breasts as souvenirs. The cross-dressing killer became known as the Shoe Fetish Slayer and helped inspire Buffalo Bill.