Recent events have caused me to think critically about LGBT rights and history. I want to try to highlight some accomplished LGBT people in history in the next few months. Let’s start with Willem Arondeus, a gay man from the Netherlands.
Arondeus was the youngest son of his family. He began illustrating early in life, creating posters, tapestries and paintings. In the spring of 1941, Arondeus turned his efforts to anti-Nazi efforts. Recognizing the danger of registering Jews, he began an underground periodical proclaiming the danger of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In the next year, he began another periodical that published art against the Reich Chamber of Culture. This periodical grew in to “The Free Artist,” a publication by a group that called for mass resistance to the Nazi movement.
He was a member of the Resistance Council that created underground organizations that fought to protect Jews. He led a group in bombing the Amsterdam Public Records Office, destroying thousands of files, an event that helped save the lives of many Jews. Because of this, he was executed by firing squad on July 1st, 1943. In his last message to his lawyer before his death, Arondeus said this: “Tell the people that gays are no longer cowards!”