Gay Iconography Hub

Gay Iconography: Robbie Rogers Leaves His Mark


After a history of extraordinary gay athletes, like Martina Navratilova, Orlando Cruz and Glenn Burke, the last few years have seen more active players beginning to open up publicly about their sexuality. Jason Collins may have been the first publicly gay active athlete in a North American team sport, but it was the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers who was the first out athlete to actually play after coming out.

RogersBefore making history, Robbie had played on the United States men’s national soccer team as well as for Leeds United. In 2013, a 25-year-old Rogers simultaneously announced that he way gay and retiring from soccer in a blog post.

“I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.

Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”

He wouldn’t stay retired for long. He played his first match as a substitute for the Galaxy on May 26, 2013, (just weeks after Collins came out and credited Rogers for blazing a trail).

Even though his retirement was short-lived, his place in history has been secured. Hear Robbie’s thoughts on coming out, professional sports and more of our favorite clips,

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Gay Iconography: Falling For Frank Ocean


There are always new icons in the making. Earlier this year, users of gay app Jack’d voted to select their top gay icons of 2014. Near the top of the list was R&B singer Frank Ocean (second only to Michael Sam).

Ocean made waves (pun wholly intended) in 2012 when he made headlines for posting a lengthy coming out on his tumblr. In what was originally intended to be the liner notes for his album Channel Orange, Ocean wrote: “4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too.” With that one pronoun, Ocean became one of the most prominent faces in hip-hop to acknowledge a same-sex attraction.

As writer Gerrick D. Kennedy asserted in The Los Angeles Times, “The straightforward letter … is undoubtedly the glass ceiling moment for music. Especially black music, which has long been in desperate need of a voice like Ocean’s to break the layers of homophobia.”

Following the letter’s publication, many members of the hip-hop community responded with their support. Jay-Z posted a thank you letter. Beyoncé wrote a poem. Def Jam records co-founder Russell Simmons wrote: “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we?”

Unfortunately, not everyone was as compassionate or inclusive as Simmons may have hoped. Rapper T-Pain told VladTV, “I think the radio is getting more gay friendly, I don’t think urban music or anything is getting more gay friendly. If that was the case Frank Ocean would be on a lot more songs ... I know n—gers that will not do a song with Frank Ocean just because he’s gay.”

But Ocean didn’t do it to change the world. Though not intentionally political, his decision was deeply personal. His letter said “Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive, kept me safe.. sincerely. These are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are.. great humans. Probably Angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite [sic]. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore.”

All of this wouldn’t have had nearly the impact it did if Channel Orange wasn’t such a remarkably brilliant album. Check out some of our favorite Ocean performances, AFTER THE JUMP

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MICHIGAN: Anti-Homophobia Art Piece Vandalized - VIDEO

Love does not harm

An art piece in Grand Rapids, Michigan that aims to raise awareness about how damaging homophobic rhetoric can be was vandalized last week, reports

The conceptual piece by Timothy Gabriel, which has since been restored, was damaged earlier this week when a passerby splattered some form of red paint or ink across the surface of the 8-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide installation.

The organizers of the event say that the work “depicts an androgynous silhouette, symbolizing the LGBT community, smeared with spiteful words on a cross of hateful quotes...The primary purpose of this piece is to raise awareness of the impact homophobic rhetoric has on the LGBT communities in Uganda, Russia, and around the globe. In many parts of the world, these minorities are oppressed, maimed, stoned, tortured, imprisoned for life, and executed. ‘Love Does Not Harm’ seeks to draw attention to the specific role many American Evangelicals play in this very real persecution.”

Explaining that he had allowed for a space on the back of the piece for feedback from locals, Gabriel said although most of the response has been positive, “it’s a shame that someone had to tarnish the front of it the way that they did.

He added:

"We were able to scrub most of it off the yellow section. But any attempt to move anything off the white left a stain or a residue. But it hasn't obstructed or destroyed it."

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Iconography: Lots of Love For Liza


In the pantheon on gay icons, there are a few that sit a wee bit higher atop the great gay Mount Olympus. Your Chers, Barbras, certain idols for whom there is a reverence that contemporary stars can only aspire to.

Liza Minnelli is one of those idols.

“I think probably Barbra and maybe even Cher and myself in school felt like outcasts because we didn’t have standard looks,” Minnelli told Newsweek in 2006. “Maybe what a gay icon is, is a person who is rooted for — in other words, cheered on — by people who feel different.”

The daughter of fellow beloved icon Judy Garland, Liza’s distinctive features, oversized stage persona and personal struggles have endeared her to the gay community for decades. Whether she was battling addiction, overcoming debilitating encephalitis or having her love life splashed across the tabloids, Liza’s persevered with the kind of resilience and old-school showbiz style that’s made her a legend.

Through it all, she’s also been an outspoken advocate of the LGBT community, particularly around HIV/AIDS awareness. She’s done lots of work with amfAR, which she told Palm Springs Life magazine is so important to her, “because I’ve lost so many friends that I knew [to AIDS].” She even told in 2006 that she was the one who first told amfAR co-founder Elizabeth Taylor about HIV/AIDS.

“I invited Rock Hudson to a concert with Elizabeth Taylor. I hadn't seen him in a long time. When I saw him he looked different. I thought that he looked like just a couple of friends that I had seen lately in New York, who had this new disease. I said to Elizabeth,’There is something called AIDS, and I don't know, but I think Rock may have it.’ She said, ‘He looks ghastly, what is it?’ I explained it to her as much as I knew. She said, ‘We have to do something. She stood up and said, ‘This is out of the question that people are being treated like this.’”

Get the dizzies over some of our favorite Minnelli moments, AFTER THE JUMP

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Gay Iconography: Is Britney A Worthy Icon?


While few would argue the omnipresence of Britney Spears in many gay young men’s bedrooms, dance clubs and gyms, her status as a gay icon is certainly up for debate.

On the one hand, she embodies so many of the qualities that have come to define a gay icon. She’s an over-the-top dance music diva whose brazen sexuality and come hither cooing have beguiled the public’s imagination since her late-‘90s debut. Veering further and further into camp, she’s got the costumes, elaborate Vegas show and even the cheesy feature film under her belt. Beyond the theatrics, like Marilyn and Judy before her, she’s got the tragic elements of her story as well.

At the same time, she hasn’t exactly been the outspoken defender of the gay community like, say, Lady Gaga. In fact, she hasn’t very eloquently spoken on the subject at all. After patronizingly calling her gay fans “adorable” on-air at 99.7 NOW FM, she went on to give a fascinating interview to Pride Source in which she failed to see why that could be seen as belittling and further described gay men as “somewhat girls.”

OK. So she’s not going to be anyone’s first pick to speak at a rally any time soon. But, bless her heart, she means well. Right? Maybe she’s sort of like Donna Summer, who, despite her own complicated relationship with the gay community, stakes claim to a part of our culture.

Explore some of the ways Britney made her mark, and share your thoughts, AFTER THE JUMP

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


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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