If Sir Edmund Hillary were gay, would that make his climb to the peak of Everest more significant, less significant, or just as significant?
I can see being gay as significant in the case of Oscar Wilde, as he was jailed for being gay, and Alan Turing, because he was castrated for being gay, but that seems less important as Oscar Wilde being a genius playwright and Alan Turning permanently breaking the ENIGMA code during WWII.
i agree with your meaning, and i only disagree semantically, really. it's more significant that oscar wilde was gay because it's important to know the stigmas of the time and how he got around it (and didn't), and the small nods to homosexuality in his works. it's important to know how they were treated in their time and the attitudes towards teh gay, and how that formed their personalities and particular bits of genius.
honestly i see it as more incidental that turing was gay, although i think it's important to learn how he was treated for it. but, in his case, the gay had no bearing whatsoever on his contribution to history. and of course, climbing a mountain is no more or less significant, gay or straight, it's awesome either way. so, singling out an historical figure just for being gay isn't at all necessary to me, but i do think a small amount of exploration into the gay lives of some of history's gays is beneficial to students. for one, it mentions gay in a light that is not negative, and for two, learning about the shit gays have had to put up with helps attitudes not be in the dark like they used to be about it. NOT talking about it on purpose is the problem, and has been for a long long time, in other words. if it's there, why not mention it?
in other words, i don't think it should ever be a focal point in classes, or anything like that. but i do think it should be allowed to stand with other facts to present the whole picture. i can't think of a single gay artist/writer/artisan whose work wasn't to some degree influenced by their gayness, and i don't think it's a terrible idea to mention that in a classroom. plus, it's significant that someone in various cultures that would basically put gays to death, survived and even excelled and put their name in the book to begin with, in spite of 'stubbornly' being a taboo thing.