Actors, authors, painters… all these categories of people, especially if famous worldwide, have always had a great influence upon our society. Let’s think, for example, of Emma Watson’s latest speech about feminism: she has raised awareness about some issues that are haunting a lot of women’s lives. Whenever a renowned personality stands up for human rights, his or her actions may have a huge impact upon our way of thinking (hopefully in a good way).
Nowadays, many artists have taken positions towards same-sex marriage, including straight artists like, for example, Brad Pitt or Lena Dunham, who are trying to fight homophobia and promote gender equality.
More importantly, an increasing number of LGBT artists now understand the importance of being openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual, and some of them are even showing their love through their art.
Here I would like to name a few of those who are fighting for LGBT rights on a daily basis, with a special mention to those who, after having been afraid of coming out, are now happily out and proud!
10) Larry Kramer
The first artist I’d like to introduce you is Larry Kramer, an American playwright, author and LGBT rights activist. Born in 1935, this talented writer is well-known for his novel Faggots (1978) and for his autobiographical play The Normal Heart (1985).
The first book, Faggots, which gained a lot of success and critics at the same time, portrays the life (including drug abuse and promiscuous sex) of the gay community in NY, in the 1970s. The main protagonist, who wants to find true-love and a long-lasting significant other, is very much frustrated to see how libertine the members of the gay community are, and how extreme its parties could get.
On the other hand, The Normal Heart (which gained a massive success at Broadway, Los Angeles and London), analyzes the life within the gay community in the 1980s, when AIDS was taking a heavy toll of human lives. The protagonist, a Jewish-American writer and gay activist, struggles to raise awareness about this tremendous disease which is killing, one by one, all his friends. In 2014, thanks to director Ryan Murphy and HBO, a film adaptation of this play was released.
Kramer, who is today still working as an LGBT right activist, has played a key role in AIDS awareness, and we all should be extremely thankful for his actions. He is now married and about to release his latest novel, The American People.
9) Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Born in 1975, Ferguson is best known for portraying Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family (which, in my honest opinion, is absolutely hilarious).
In real life, Fergusson, who is openly gay and married to his husband Justin Mikita since 2012, is also a philanthropist and, together with his husband, runs a project named Tie The Knot, a non-profit charity whose aim is to raise funds for same sex marriage. In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union named him the celebrity ambassador for the LGBT community. Since then, his non-profit association has received more and more momentum and it’s doing a great work for same-sex equality.
8) Mickalene Thomas
Born in 1971, Mickalene is an American feminist, film maker and artist, mainly famous for her elaborate paintings which depict the sensuality of African American women.
Through her art, she also explores and portrays different themes, from femininity to sexuality and women power. She blends western art from the 1970s with exotic settings, creating portrayals permeated by symbolism. One of her most famous piece of art is a tribute to her mom, Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman: A Portrait of My Mother, an HBO short documentary which I can personally recommend.
Mickalene is out as a lesbian, and is a great example for anyone who has experienced different kind of discriminations, from skin color to sexuality. Moreover, she is a great inspiration and example for all those women who are ashamed of their body: in fact, throughout her art, she shows us how beautiful every single body is, no matter what its size is.
We need more women like her!
7) Chely Wright
Who says country music is for men? Surely not Chely Wright!
Born in 1970 in Kansas, you probably know her for songs like Shut Up and Drive and Single White Female. Growing up in the so-called “Bible Belt”, as soon as she understood she was lesbian, Chely decided to never reveal her sexual orientation. She worried how her local friends would take the news and she was also afraid this could have been deleterious for her music career.
However, after hearing about all those LGBT teenagers who were committing suicide due to depression and being bullied, Chely Wright finally decided to come out as a lesbian in 2010. That same year she also founded the Like Me Charity Organization, which provides help, assistance and education to LGBT individuals, friends and families. An extended film about her coming out, Wish Me Away, was released in 2011.
She is a great example of courage, and the living proof that coming out of the closet is always more helpful than harmful even when the experience is scary and difficult.
6) Conchita Wurst
Conchita Wurst (born Thomas Neuwirth in 1988), is an Austrian pop singer and drag queen and most people know her because of Eurovision 2014. I actually hope you know her, because her voice is absolutely sublime. Conchita is the drag queen stage name of Thomas Neuwirth, a cisgender and openly gay man who has been singing on stage since 2006.
As you may have noticed, I am using the female pronoun ‘her’ instead of ‘his’, and that’s because, when referring to Conchita Wurst, one is referring to her stage name/persona while, when referring to the actual person, one may use the male pronoun. I made this little introduction because I know many people are confused about this wonderful singer, and do not know if Conchita is a transgeder or not.
Conchita, who is gaining more and more consent and popularity worldwide, is probably the best inspiration for anyone who is afraid to express his/her true self, as well as a great example of freedom and fierceness.
5) Beth Ditto
Mary Beth Patterson is probably one of the first women I have ever heard of being openly lesbian, and probably the only one who as ever referred to herself as a fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas. And that’s precisely the reason why I love her so much: she isn’t afraid of stereotypes and she accepts herself for what she is. She has often posed nude for various magazines, and she has never been afraid of saying that she loves women (well, one in particular: Beth is married to Kristin Ogata, her best friend and girlfriend since the two were 18 years old).
She advocates body positivity, especially towards large women, and has made significant contributions to the LGBT community. She is the perfect feminist friend we all would like to have!
Hands up who is incapable of stop singing Elastic Heart! Also, hands up who, like me, thinks will never stop loving this song (and its video – Hello, Shia LaBeouf!).
Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, born in Australia in 1975, has been singing since 1996, and has had many collaborations with various artists like, for example, David Guetta.
She came out as a bisexual in 2009, and has never been ashamed of saying that her sexuality is very fluid. Besides being an extremely talented artist, Sia is a great feminist, and an inspiring icon who, throughout her talent (her voice), is standing up for both women and LGBT rights.
3) Neil Patrick Harris
When talking about gay celebrities, I bet all of you think about Mr. Neil Patrick Harris, who’s probably one of the cutest fathers on Earth.
Born in 1973, everyone knows him for playing womanizer Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother. Harris, who never wastes a moment to say how much he loves his husband, is very active on Instagram and Twitter, where he shares pictures of his happy family (the couple has two wonderful children Harper Grace and Gideon Scott). He has been out since 2006, and he’s a great inspiration and example for anyone who wants to start a family but is afraid because of other people’s prejudices.
He beats stereotypes twit after twit!
2) David Hockney
Born in 1937, Hockney is an English painter, artist, stage designer and photographer. He is mainly known for having been one of the most influential pop-art artists during the 1960s. He is also a noteworthy friend of artist icon Andy Warhol.
In some of his paintings he has explored his love for men, taking inspiration from other forms of art. For example, he named one of his more famous paintings after a Walter Whitman poem, We Two Boys Together Clinging.
Mr. Hockney, who has been and is still an acclaimed artist all over the world, has always portrayed same-sex love in extremely romantic and touching ways, and he is the living example of how art can give a positive contribution to our society. He has never been ashamed for what he is, and has never been ashamed to show it to the world.
1) Matt Bomer
Remember when I was talking about Larry Kramer and The Normal Heart? Well, in the film based on this play, the two main characters are portrayed by actors Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer who, in my honest opinion, is one of the most charming men in the entire world.
And guess what? Many of you may don’t know that not only this actor is openly gay, but he is also married with children. He and his husband, Simon Halls , have three children, Walker, Henry and Kit. Matt, who is mainly known for his role as Neal Caffrey in the TV series White Collar, came out of the closet in 2012 and since then, has never stopped advocating for LGBT rights. Even though it took some time to come out of the closet, he now never dismisses the significance and role of being an openly gay actor.
Being a caring father, a devoted husband and a talented actor, makes him nothing but a great example for anyone!