Although it’s been a while since LGBT rights advocacy made it into mainstream culture, it took a little longer until awareness about these rights made it into stamps. But once the precedent was set, it seems that there’s a fair portion of stamps devoted to the topic in recent years. Basically, we are talking about the period between 2010 and 2020 – but more, more LGBT-themed stamps are sure to come, making this topic a new topical interest for collectors worldwide! Below you can find in chronological order the stamps of this history-in-the-making. I chose to exclude the stamps devoted to allegedly LGBT or openly LGBT personalities on stamps, but focus on the stamps related to human rights, events, and commemorations related to the LGBT communities worldwide.
The first LGBT-themed stamp I know of was issued in 2010 by the Austrian Post.
It was issued to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Rainbow Parade in Vienna.
Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (in short, WOSP, in English: Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) is the best-known Polish charity organization, aiming at the improvement of medical treatment of infants. Active since 1993, the organization rejoices the highest ranking of credibility in Poland among all non-governmental, non-profit organization, with as many as 87% interviewed Poles ascertaining its positive role in society. Organized yearly, usually on the first or second Sunday in January, the organization has raised until now USD297mil which they used for medical supplies and equipment for neonatology, oncology and palleative care. In 2019, WOSP made the news in unfortunate circumstances, as during the festivities, one of the supporters of WOSP, the mayor of the city of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, was stabbed and subsequently died.
WOSP was frequently present on stamps in the last two decades, as Polish Post used to join the charity efforts by issuing stamps, parts of the proceeds thereof going to the charity. Polish Post ceased to officially back the organization in 2017, however the story of WOSP stamps is not ready yet.
The first WOSP stamp was issued in 2004, and features the well-known logo of the foundation, a red heart with the text “Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy), for the 12th anniversary of the charity.
Amnesty International, with its easily recognizable logo of a burning candle encircled by barbed wire, is one of the most known non-profits aiming at the observance of human rights. Since 1961 it has helped hundreds of prisoners of conscience across the world to be freed from prison, to escape torture, and to get justice for their cause.
The logo of Amnesty International is inspired by a Chinese proverb: “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” The barbed wire represents “the darkness” (hopelessness) of people put in jail where they think nobody remembers they are there.
With its logo or without, Amnesty International is also one of the non-profit organizations which got almost instant recognition on stamps. As early as 1974, and up to today, the work of the organization has been celebrated on the stamps of tens of countries. Below you will find this interesting history on stamps.
The United States of America issued on an yearly basis since 1978 single stamps from the Black Heritage series. With 41 single stamps published to date (2018), it is one of the longest living series of stamps not only from the USA, but from the entire world. It was meant from the very beginning as a commemoration of the individuals who helped advance social causes, not necessarily of the African American communities, and at the same time it was a very successful attempt at recuperating the unwritten, and sometimes overlooked history of the African American communities.
In addition, the stamps tell also an interesting story about the evolution of the post stamp. The first issues are issued as gummed paper, whereas more recent ones are self-adhesive. The value of the stamps is also increased during the time of issue of Black Heritage stamps several times (tripling the initial value). There are some important figures to know about the Black Heritage stamps.
Quick Facts about USA Black Heritage on Stamps
No. of stamps issued until 2018: 41
No. of men: 25 | No. of women: 16 | Longest streak of women being pictured on the Black Heritage Stamps: 3 (between 2005 and 2007)
No. of gummed stamps: 19 | No. of self-adhesive stamps: 22 (since 1996)
Who are the people pictured on the USA Black Heritage Stamps?
Pictured above: 1978 – Harriet Tubman – abolitionist and woman’s suffragette movement advocate; 1979 – Martin Luther King Jr. – minister, Nobel Prize winner; 1980 – Benjamin Bannecker – mathematician and astronomer; 1981 – Whitney Moore Young – social welfare activist; 1982 – Jackie Robinson – first non-white person to enter major league baseball; 1983 – Scott Joplin – ragtime composer.
On 05.12.1958, UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency decreed the year 1960 to be the World Refugee Year, encouraging member states to promote permanent solutions for the cause of refugees. Permanent settlement and repatriation solutions were among the desired outcome of this action, as well as appropriate promotion of the actions related to the World Refugee Year. While 60 years later, in 2018, we still struggle to either renounce our ego, or to put the topic of refugees higher up the agenda – we still face the same issues related to refugees, if not to even a larger extent.
Many countries chose to promote the actions related to World Refugee Year by minting stamps. In some cases, we talk about countries which did nothing but mint stamps, unfortunately. Below you will find most of the issues related to the World Refugee Year on stamps.
Protection of Indigenous Youth (or, Protection of Indigenous Childhood) is a series of stamps issued by French-speaking territories in 1942. Most of them were printed in France and then distributed into the overseas territories, though the stamps may be in fact one of the first attempts to flood the market with enough stamps for the eager collectors, especially as most the territories were, as the average collector’s taste goes, rather exotic.