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This list of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) firsts by year denotes pioneering LGBT endeavors organized chronologically. Openly LGBT people remain a demographic minority in most places. In areas that historically are not known for having (or being friendly to) LGBT people who do not remain closeted, a "first" can make it easier for other openly LGBT persons to enter the field or for those who are closeted to come out. Openly LGBT people being visible in society affects societal attitudes toward homosexuality, bisexuality, and the transgender community on a wider level.
One commonly cited example is Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to political office in California, becoming the most visible LGBT politician in the world in the 1970s, after decades of resistance to LGBT people by mainstream culture. Milk encouraged LGBT people to "come out of the closet" during his speeches; as a result of his work and his assassination—along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone—thousands of ordinary people did so. In 2002, Milk was called "the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States".

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