It is 2016 and boy have things changed for the LGBT community in a positive way. It is time to wave our rainbow flags proudly as we examine major influential and inspirational gay people over time. Making this list can be never ending because the presence of homosexuality has been around since the beginning of time. Throughout history, every aspect of culture, math, science, arts, entertainment and so many more facets have been impacted by homosexuals just as much as straight people. They have made major contributions to the world and it is important to recognize these achievements and celebrate them just as we do with heterosexuals.
Throughout the past decade legally, major events demonstrating and promoting equality for the LGBT community have been made. We all remember how the world celebrated when the United States declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide on June 26th, 2015. People of all ages and races praised the government for finally recognizing that marriage should be an option for all couples. Imagine, it was 2015 when that happened. Better late than never right? Now that that issue has been checked off the list of creating equality within the world, it is time to keep on keepin’ on.
Let’s take a look at these 15 influential gay people of all time to help motivate us create and build change within our world today.
15. Anderson Cooper
It is easy to get lost in those baby blues, but Anderson Cooper is not just a pretty face. This openly gay news anchor is brainy as heck and is not afraid to make fun or voice his opinion on the reality of today. He came out in an e-mail to his friend and fellow journalist Andrew Sullivan in July 2012. Cooper wrote, “The fact is I’m gay, always have been, always will be and I couldn’t be anymore happy, comfortable with myself and proud.” Anderson urged himself to write to himself to reassure the public that he was not hiding himself and his sexuality from the world; he was simply a private person. The New York Times stated that Cooper was “one of the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television.”
He is currently in a relationship and is sitting on an estimated $11 million net worth. Whether he is giggling alongside us or telling it like it is, the world tunes in religiously to follow this journalist’s every move.
14. Frank Ocean
In July 2012 right before his new album Chanel Orange was to drop, Frank Ocean revealed to the world that he was gay. It was definitely a risky move, especially in the hip hop world (considering a good portion of the songs released have a certain macho and rough edge to them that glorify seducing women). Ocean posted on Twitter, “4 summers ago I met somebody, I was 19. He was too. We spent that summer and the summer after together. Everyday almost and on the days we were together, time would glide.” Once he hit send, the internet blew up and the world gossiped about the information the star just shared.
Ocean received an immense of support from many kings and queens of the hip hop world like Beyonce, Jay Z, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. With such a positive reaction to his news, Ocean later went on to speak more in depth to GQ magazine about his sexuality and his career.
13. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
At the age of eight, growing up in Montana, Ferguson knew he wanted to act. He also knew he was very, very gay. He went on to follow his dreams attending Albuquerque’s Children’s Theatre as well as Dramatic Arts School and the Dramatic Academy in New York City. Yes, this Montana boy was on his way to stardom. Knowing he was born an actor, Jesse Tyler Ferguson never stopped taking the steps to rise to fame. He now stars as Mitchell on the smash hit television show Modern Family. In the show, he plays a gay man in a relationship with the funniest character ever made for TV – Cam played by Eric Stonestreet.
It is amazing what a life one can create when they are so sure of who they are within. Despite playing a gay role for his acting gig, it is still a major action job nonetheless requiring hours of work and dedication to his craft. Hats off to this shining star who keeps making us laugh each week!
12. Tim Cook
You see the iPhone you’re reading this from or the Mac that’s allowing these words to be seen, well this man is to thank. As the CEO of Apple since 2011, Tim Cook has contributed immensely to the world of technology with the products that are constantly glued to our hands. He is the first fortune 500 CEO to be openly gay since he came out in 2014. Known to be a very private person, Cook decided to reveal his true self to the world in hopes of helping others facing troubles dealing with their sexuality. He came out in a magazine stating, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick, this is my brick.”
Such beautiful words spoken by a man who has set the business standard high alongside embracing equality and LGBT rights.
11. John Amaechi
He shoots, he scores! This former NBA player not only scored points on the court, but slammed dunked in real life when it came to opening up about his homosexuality. He was actually the first NBA player EVER to come out, which is a bold move. Usually all male professional sports hold a sense of macho masculinity and the stigmas associated with being homosexual could have impacted his career. As accepting as the world is slowly becoming, homophobia impacts lives in every sense, from careers, friendships, family and relationships in general.
Thankfully, Amaechi has tasted the sweet fruits of being true to yourself and is the only British NBA player to have his jersey hung in the US basketball hall of fame. On top of that, he is the global ambassador for Amnesty International and the vice president of the English Federation of Disability Sport.
10. Reverend Peter J. Gomes
This outspoken Republican happens to be the pastor at Harvard University. He is also author to many books. He embodies intelligence, faith and love of all kinds. He voices his outrage at the discrimination faced by homosexuals courtesy of anti-gays everywhere. Gomes says, “I do not know when the quality of life has been more violated. I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay. Those realities, which are irreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God.”
The gay debate will forever be present because just as much as we firmly believe the truths in our religions (if religious), it is the same with homosexuals. It is a part of who you are, not what you choose; it is something you truly feel and believe. If only more people would understand that you can’t escape what your soul, mind, body and inner self show you who you are, religious or gay.
9. Neil Patrick Harris
“Legend…wait for it, dary!” Yes he is, Neil Patrick Harris made How I Met Your Mother worth watching. He played a shallow bachelor always on the move to find his next hot female to take home. In real life, Harris could not be further from his character of Barney Stinson. He is happily married to his partner David Burtka and they have adopted two little boys together.
“After a long internal journey, you now embrace being gay, recognizing it as a wonderful and integrally important component part of the totality is you,” he once said.
Harris recognizes that everyone’s journey into recognizing and accepting that they are gay is not a slow process. Everyone’s story and journey are different, but the end result of living fully is one that is worth it so it seems. Gay or straight, loving yourself is a priority.
8. Clare Balding
Ms. Balding is a triple threat: she is a TV and radio presenter, a sports presenter and a cancer survivor. She is at the peak of her booming career and is completely out and proud with her sexuality. In 2012, Balding covered the Olympics as well as the Paralympics. She is currently in a civil partnership with her partner Alice Arnold that was formed in 2016. Balding states that, “Personally, I’m a much better broadcaster for not hiding who I am. Not necessarily trumpeting it, but not hiding it.”
It’s so true the attitude she takes on with just being real about who you are to the public. Straight people rarely shy away from outing their sexuality, so why should gays? Keep on doing what you are doing Ms. Clare because the view must look good from up high.
7. Ellen DeGeneres
Everyone loves to dance to Ellen’s tune just as much as she loves to dance herself. This Emmy award winning writer, comic, host and actress is one of the funniest women in the media today. She used to star in her own TV show entitled “Ellen” and would reference homosexuality openly in a very humorist way. As her fame began to grow, Ellen DeGeneres has used her platform to draw awareness to the struggles, successes and issues surrounding the world today in relation to homosexuality.
She agreed to marry her longtime partner, actress Portia De Rossi, in 2008 when the ban on gay marriage was lifted in California. She is an incredible force in finding a balance between comic relief and drawing serious attention to everything surrounding a gay life and world.
6. Orlando Cruz
This Puerto Rican featherweight boxer made history when he became one of the first active professional athletes when he outed himself to USA today. “I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my career, I want to be true to myself,” the boxer said. “I want to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a pro career.” He wanted to still obtain every ounce of respect as a boxer and man as he did before allowing the public to know his sexual preference. His fans have been loyal and many still upheld their respect after the news broke.
RuPaul has it all because as a man or woman this person exudes confidence, beauty, sass and a whole lot of fabulous! Not only is RuPaul very striking, his business sense is top notch. He is best known for dressing in drag and embracing the drag queen world as well as being a mentor to all of those who aspire to be just like him. He created a hit TV show called RuPaul’s Drag Race that captured millions of viewers. The show portrays men who compete to win as the ultimate drag queen. It exudes glamour, fun and most of all acceptance of that chosen lifestyle that is popular in the gay community.
4. Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry is a comedian and actor in the entertainment industry. He has been nominated for countless Baftas as well as Golden Globes. He also is the host of the quiz show Q1 on BBC network. Life was not always rainbows and butterflies for this star and he once tried to commit suicide when he was living with bipolar disorder. Overcoming that dark period in his life, he has joined campaigns to end mental health stigmas today. In terms of the gay community, Fry has created a documentary entitled “Stephen Fry- Out There” which emphasizes how LGBT are treated around the world and what needs to be done in order to attain equality.
3. Laverne Cox
If you’re addicted to Netflix and chilling or the show Orange is the New Black, then you definitely recognize this pretty face. Laverne Cox is a transgender actress who has made a splash in Hollywood and a positive impact for the trans community in the public eye today. She portrays Sophia Burset on the show and has even been nominated for an Emmy. She was honored with a wax figure at the popular Madame Tussauds and is a striking beauty. Not only was she the first openly transgender person to appear on Time magazine’s cover, she was included in 2015 People’s world’s most beautiful women list.
2. Matthew Vines
“Being gay is not a sin,” LGBT rights activist Matthew Vines continuously states. This 26 year old is on a mission and it’s not exactly one of those missionary works that the Christian faith is used to. Vines took a leave of absence from studying at Harvard University to study the Bible and homosexuality. His hopes are to see the inclusion of LGBT in Christian communities. He has spoken to churches and congregations, preaching his point of view on the gay debate. One of his speeches was filmed, posted on YouTube and attained over 400,000 views in a short time span.
1. Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen is a very famous English actor best known for his roles as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings as well as Magneto in X-Men. He has received nominations for an Academy Award, five Emmy nominations and won a Tony Award along with two Critic’s Choice Awards. Since he started acting, he always let his fellow actors be aware of his sexual orientation. He only publicly came out on BBC radio in 1998. Despite his acting success, his true passion lies within advocating for the LGBT community. McKellen says, “I have many regrets about not having come out earlier, but one of them might be that I didn’t engage myself in politicking.”
McKellen has made a deep impact. He is the co-founder of Stonewall, a LGBT rights lobby group in the UK. He is not shy to stand up against inequality when he called Sergey Sobyanin, Moscow’s mayor, a “coward” for not allowing gay parades to take place.