When in the course of human events a mustache comes along that truly changes things, Aaron Perlut is there to celebrate.

As chairman of the American Mustache Institute, he's high in the running for leading mustache expert in the country, and his deep involvement with the American Mustache knows few limits.

"As a young man I grew up surrounded by mustaches in my family, but I was always intimidated to grow them, even though I could from a very young age, because of the public pressures against it, because they weren't cool, they weren't hip," Perlut, 39, told The Atlantic.

"There was a certain stigma attached to people with mustaches--that you weren't professional or intelligent, and I commited myself to working for an organization that battled against that."

He has pursued that goal since forming the American Mustache Institute in 2006, advocating for discriminated and downtrodden Mustached Americans everywhere, preventing a few firings and school expulsions, and promoting the obvious physical, stylistic, and sexual advantages of the Mustached American lifestyle, as he puts it, along the way. He also became, by his own bestowal, Dr. Perlut, Ph.D. in nuclear mustachology.

American Mustache Institute
Chairman Aaron Perlut

"There is a pattern of discrimination against people who are different from whatever the norm might be at the time in this country, and facial hair is no exception," Perlut says.

This week the AMI announced it is accepting nominations for the third annual "Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year" award, to be doled out at the annual 'Stache Bash in St. Louis, where Perlut resides and works as a public relations and social media consultant, and where the AMI is based.

The winner will follow in the footsteps of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Zavada, the 2009 winner, and first-ever winner Tim Galvin, an NYPD officer who was shot in the face and leg and was forced by his injuries to take medical disability and retire.

In honor of the 2010 contest, we present Perlut's list of 20 Mustaches That Changed History, along with his commentary. They are, all of them, mustaches of great import, having ushered sweeping changes in politics, art, sports, and global mustache trends.

Click here to see The Atlantic's full interview with Perlut regarding trends, possibilities, and the State of the American Mustache.