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Gay Iconography: What You Said In 2014

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When I started writing Gay Iconography in late 2013, I hoped to explore why some celebrities and artists held mass appeal — not to be confused with universal appeal, mind you — within the gay community. Over time, what began as a light-hearted feature celebrating these stars with a few YouTube clips became a lightning rod of conversation and, shall we say, spirited debate.

The original premise, as stated in the early posts, was to “present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts.” The second half of the stated mission — asking you to weigh in with your thoughts — is what’s made it most interesting for me.

This year, the first full calendar year of the column, Gay Iconography has received more than 1,300 comments (and, yes, I read them all). I thought it would be interesting to look back at lessons learned from these conversations and see if we’re any closer to recognizing what draws some of us to these cultural cornerstones.

The conversation may not have always been nuanced (and, of course, it did occasionally devolve into name-calling and flamewars like any comments section on the Internet), but there have been some surprising revelations. For example, while I had expected some controversial choices like Queen Latifah and Donna Summer to be met with criticism, and I could have anticipated younger picks like Robyn or Frank Ocean to be easily dismissed, I was still surprised to see people deny the impact of, say, Cher, Madonna or Dolly Parton. There’s always room to debate the merits of any one individual, but it seemed at times as if some folks aimed to refute the existence of a unique LGBT culture to represent at all.

However, looking back over the comments from this year, some trends do start to emerge as to what some might consider a gay icon. See some of the most prevailing ideas perpetuated in the comments and let us know if you agree, AFTER THE JUMP

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Kelly Ripa Grills Anderson Cooper On Whether He Wants To Sleep With Her Husband Mark Consuelos: VIDEO

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On last night's Watch What Happens Live, host Andy Cohen handed off his hosting duties to guest Kelly Ripa and let her run a little game of "Plead the Fifth" on fellow guest Anderson Cooper. The game is one of the recurring gambits on WWHL where a guest is asked three questions, may plead the fifth to one but must then answer the other two. Ripa dove in by asking Cooper whether he would rather have sex with her or her husband, Mar Consuelos. The answer may seem obvious (for obvious reasons), yet the banter that ensues is awkward enough to illict a chuckle from even a Scrooge.

Watch Anderson get up close and personal (and also deal with the gay man's Sophie's choice), AFTER THE JUMP...

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Kathy Griffin Reminisces About All the Times She's Tried to Get Anderson Cooper Fired on New Year's: VIDEO

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On Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Kathy Griffin asked Jimmy about his New Year's Eve plans and if he'll be watching CNN's annual celebration co-hosted by her and Anderson Cooper. 

Said Kathy:

I will try again this year to get him fired...Every year I try and outdo myself and in fact harm him in some way, at least emotionally.

Watch Kathy look back on all the traumatizing things she's done to the Silver Fox, AFTER THE JUMP...

You can also check out a separate clip AFTER THE JUMP with Kathy sharing her thoughts on taking over Fashion Police for Joan Rivers. 

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Anderson Cooper Has Emergency Appendectomy

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Anderson Cooper had an appendectomy Sunday night after being diagnosed with appendicitis. Cooper shared the news about his "sudden surgery" on Twitter. He was absent from his newsdesk Monday night which led many to speculate why he was not present. It was then that Cooper tweeted his announcement. Page Six reports:

The 47-year-old’s stomach pains started a week ago when he was in Missouri coveringFerguson-related protests, then worsened while he was in France for Thanksgiving visiting a sick relative. Cooper thought he might have been suffering from food poisoning, the rep said.

When he landed back home in New York on Sunday afternoon, Cooper immediately called his doctor, “who warned it was likely appendicitis.” “He went from the airport to the doctor’s office and, after a quick exam, his doctor told Anderson that he needed to go to the ER right away,” the rep added.

The anchor spent Sunday night at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and was sent home Monday.

Cooper was quick to reassure his viewers that he would be returning to the newsdesk on Tuesday.  


Anderson Cooper Didn't Know He Made His Own RidicUList: VIDEO

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"My boo" Anderson Cooper was caught unawares Monday night when he ended up on his own "RidicUList", a list devoted to ridiculous things and people in pop culture.

What heinous crime did Anderson commit that earned him such a notorious distinction? The purchasing (and frequent use of) a basil scented candle in his office that his co-workers say smells like "Woodstock Vomit."

Anderson defended his candle, saying he bought it because he was told he smells. In particular, he was told his jeans smell because he does not wash them (something the folks at Levi's and GQ have endorsed for the general wearer though given Anderson's extensive world travels to war zones and disaster-stricken regions, his jeans could perhaps stand a whirl in the Maytag). 

Said Anderson of his candle,

"It is a fancy basy scented candle, I will have you know...I don't know if you know about candles. They seem to cost a lot...I think it smells lovely."

Never fear, though. Anderson will not be bullied by the haters: "Until this show [named AC 360] is renamed anti-candle 360 I will do whatever I want to create a serene frigging environment for my coworkers and myself to enjoy."

Learn more about the candle in question, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Iconography: Anderson Cooper's Hard News (And Hard Laughs)

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It makes sense that a newsman’s coming out would be pretty matter-of-fact. For Anderson Cooper, he made the public disclosure via an e-mail to Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast in 2012:

“The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”

But Cooper’s public coming out was a long time coming. Long considered an “open secret,” Cooper was named the second most powerful gay man in America by Out Magazine — five years before he actually came out publicly. The feature discussed “the glass closet” and the issue’s cover had two models wearing masks of Cooper and Jodie Foster.

The silver-haired journo explained to Sullivan that, while he didn’t lie about his sexuality, he kept mum on his personal life due to the nature of his work.

“Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own.”

Since then, Anderson Cooper has continued to endear himself to audiences as an anchor and a television host. Relive just a few of our favorite Cooper clips, AFTER THE JUMP

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