Debbie Harry | Gay Iconography

Gay Iconography: Blondie Bombshell Debbie Harry


The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot, but why is it that some figures amass more of a gay audience? Welcome to Gay Iconography, a feature where we present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts. 

Debbie Harry is a musician, actress and style icon. The legendary lead singer of Blondie has left her mark across punk, disco and new wave with a string of hits and an unmistakable cool.

Known for her signature peroxide-blonde hair and striking features, she's also appeared in films, television and even once as a Playboy bunny. She became something of an institution in the New York City scene at places like Studio 54 and CBGB.

It's there that she became closely tied to the gay community.

“Blondie has always been a part of the downtown community in NYC, with many, many friends who represent alternative lifestyles," she told the Huffington Post in a press release following the band's refusal to play in Sochi for the Winter Olympics. "We feel very strongly about these friendships and associations, and don’t feel good about participating in a situation where biases and prejudices are paramount."

She made headlines for tweeting a photo of the offer letter for the Sochi gig with the words "PASS human rights" scrawled over it. It's not the first time she's stood up for the LGBT community, as a long-time ally in the fight against AIDS, as well as appearing on Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour for the Human Rights Campaign. She told Gay Times Magazine: "I know its important to stand up for gay rights or letting people get over their hang-ups or their prejudices. But for me personally it's never been an issue and I feel like as an adult you are entitled to whatever sexuality you are and have and whoever you're in love with."

Celebrate Debbie Harry with some classic videos, and tell us your thoughts on the fabulous frontwoman, AFTER THE JUMP ...


Blondie's Parallel Lines may have been their third album, but it was their first smash success. It hit No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 6 in the United States. The album was full of classics like "Heart of Glass," "One Way Or Another" and (our personal favorite) "Hanging On the Telephone."



The band is known for crossing genres, including new wave ("Dreaming"), reggae ("The Tide Is High") and, famously, rap. Their song "Rapture," above, was the first No. 1 hit in the U.S. to feature rap.



Debbie Harry also released five solo albums. Her second album featured "French Kissin' In the USA." The song was written by Chuck Lorre (yes, the same guy behind Two And A Half Men), and its video features Peg Bundy herself, Katey Sagal. You may recognize a cover of this song used in the film Troop Beverly Hills.



Before Hairspray was a movie musical, it was just a musical. And before that, it was a movie from the brilliant John Waters, starring Debbie as Velma Von Tussle.



Comedian John Roberts told us about how he became friends with Debbie Harry after his band opened for Blondie. Debbie fits right into Roberts' over-the-top comedy style with her character "Fran."

What's your favorite Blondie song or Debbie Harry moment? Tell us in the comments.

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  1. "The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot."

    Yes. Yes, it does, mainly on Towleroad.

    Posted by: Regina | Feb 14, 2014 6:57:20 PM

  2. This is the silliest, most pointless regular feature on Towleroad. I really wish you guys would kill it off.

    Posted by: peterparker | Feb 14, 2014 7:11:28 PM

  3. I love Debbie. I was 6 or 7 when "Heart of Glass" came out and just the way it sounded blew my mind. "The Tide Is High," "Call Me," "Rapture".... Blondie was the coolest.

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 14, 2014 7:23:09 PM

  4. Thank you Debbie, I still play your remixed album released awhile back due to a comeback, you were a part of my adolescence and I thank you for your strength and your music is always with me,

    Posted by: roy | Feb 14, 2014 7:33:00 PM

  5. Debbie Harry *was* a...

    Fixed that for you.

    Posted by: Knock | Feb 14, 2014 7:33:23 PM

  6. Am I going to have to start a "We The People" petition to get Cyndi Lauper featured on Gay Iconography feature of this site?

    Posted by: Thomas | Feb 14, 2014 7:48:47 PM

  7. I find all the talk of gay icons quite tiresome. Basically anyone with a distinctive look seems to be classed as a gay icon.
    Personally I don't have, want, or need any icons.

    Posted by: danswon | Feb 14, 2014 7:55:01 PM

  8. Thanks Knock

    Posted by: roy | Feb 14, 2014 7:57:03 PM

  9. now here's an icon I can get behind.
    But I wouldn't go so far as call here a gay icon.

    Posted by: David | Feb 14, 2014 8:09:56 PM

  10. 'Gay icons' seem to be folks, that as a gay man, you'd be able to chill and hang out with, without them having an issue with your sexuality. And if push came to shove, they would stick up for you.
    So far, Cher, Madonna, and Debbie seem to fit the bill.

    Posted by: Eddie | Feb 14, 2014 8:13:16 PM

  11. In the episode of AbFab where Eddy goes to New York to find her gay son Serge they both end up at a club where Debbie is performing and Eddy says "This is your Godmother" so of course she's an icon.

    Posted by: MIke | Feb 14, 2014 9:23:44 PM

  12. Punk icon. Not gay icon, imo. Ally tho'…

    Posted by: LJC | Feb 14, 2014 9:57:32 PM

  13. I have always loved Debbie Harry. I used to have a huge poster of her cracking a whip hanging over my bed. That was the 80's.

    Posted by: Twitdude | Feb 14, 2014 10:21:01 PM

  14. She's a valued ally and undoubtedly an icon, just not a gay icon.

    Posted by: JMC | Feb 14, 2014 10:27:40 PM

  15. Neck and neck with "The OXD Mirror" as the "the silliest, most pointless regular feature on Towleroad. I really wish you guys would kill it off."

    Posted by: don't a tell la | Feb 14, 2014 10:32:33 PM

  16. @don't a tell la The OXD Mirror has substance, is contemporary and resurfaces cool music that I bet most of us would miss otherwise, don't knock it.

    Posted by: Jay | Feb 14, 2014 11:54:45 PM

  17. I saw Debbie Harry in Greenwich back in the mid nineties. She was hanging out in the back of some car looking bored. She saw me looking at her all google eyed. She was so cool but I was too shy to say hello. She's still cool in my opinion. And, yeah, I'd def say Gay Icon.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Feb 15, 2014 12:07:12 AM

  18. I'm always flabbergasted by how threatened and vitriolic commenters on this site get with this feature. I think it's pretty cool.

    Deal wit it.

    Posted by: Mikey | Feb 15, 2014 12:38:13 AM

  19. When Blondie broke up and Debbie went solo, she played numerous gay bars with sell out crowds. She's always defended gay rights and AIDS issues. Last time I saw her in Tampa, she stood outside, signed autographs, took pictures and thanked her loyal gay fans! She is a true Gay Icon!

    Posted by: TampaGary | Feb 15, 2014 2:46:51 AM

  20. In the episode of AbFab where Eddy goes to New York to find her gay son Serge they both end up at a club where Debbie is performing and Eddy says "This is your Godmother" so of course she's an icon...

    Posted by: Fungsi | Feb 15, 2014 3:21:38 AM

  21. without them having an issue with your sexuality. And if push came to shove, they would stick up for you.

    Posted by: Pengertian | Feb 15, 2014 3:22:05 AM

  22. Debbie is an amazing artist and the group Blondie where for all the the dumb ass out there who where not around when she ruled the world from 1978 to 82 you all missed out. What ever you think Debbie is or isn't. Who care she was the original where all else followed From Madonna Cindy, Annie, Gwen, Kylie, Gaga etc. They have all sighted Debbie as an influence on them. Blondie did the first NY Gay Pride in 1975 10yrs way before this shower above come on the scene. Debbie is a total Iconic Goddess of gay rights always has and been part of down town from the start.

    Posted by: mitch | Feb 15, 2014 4:03:10 AM

  23. The only reason I would disagree is that Drag Queens don't really "do Debbie." LOL

    Whatever. I LOVE HER. When I was a gay teenager I threw a fit that my mother bought me a bike for my birthday instead of tickets to see Blondie.

    Posted by: Qj201 | Feb 15, 2014 7:24:09 AM

  24. This series sux.

    Posted by: Hylas | Feb 15, 2014 7:25:10 AM

  25. Always loved Blondie. Had a major, I mean, MAJOR crush on Jimmy Destri. However, I think this "gay icon" thing is a bit overdone. Debby Harry is an icon to anyone who ever felt the need and/or had the courage to be "different", gay or straight, regardless of what others might think or say.

    I love Towleroad but the "gay icon" thing is past its shelf life.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Feb 15, 2014 12:40:43 PM

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