Gay Iconography Hub

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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Gay Iconography: Ellen's Major Impact On the Mainstream


No discussion of the most iconic, influential and important LGBT pop-culture figures would be complete without mention of Ellen DeGeneres. The beloved comedian, actress and host is not only adored by legions of loyal viewers of her daytime talk show, but a recent survey also named her gay men's favorite celebrity endorser.

After a successful start doing stand-up in the '80s and '90s, Ellen left her mark on television history. Her sitcom, Ellen, made headlines when its titular character came out of the closet following DeGeneres’ real-life coming out to Oprah at the height of her show’s popularity. Ellen’s shift into more LGBT-focused content (and, some speculate, waning network support of the gay-friendly content) led to a downturn in ratings, and it was canceled after the following season.

But, we hadn’t heard the last of the funnylady from Metairie, Louisiana. She voiced Dory in Pixar’s Finding Nemo (and will return in an upcoming sequel). Riding a wave of new celebrity-hosted talk shows, Ellen launched her own daytime gabfest in 2003. Eleven years later, the show is still a massive success, beaming DeGeneres’ dancing and silly segments into the living rooms of millions every day.

Put on your dancing shoes and boogie down with some of our favorite Ellen clips, AFTER THE JUMP

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Gay Iconography: The Fiercely Funny Margaret Cho

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While the world lost one of the most brazen (and divisive) comedians this week, the legacy Joan Rivers left behind has inspired a generation of equally outspoken funny women. Many of them are considered gay icons in their own right, including one of our previous picks, Kathy Griffin. In addition to the D-list diva, comics like Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler carry on the tradition of risky, outlandish humor.

While Handler and Silverman have sizable gay followings in their own right, they can’t hold a candle to Margaret Cho. The Korean-American comedian has long embraced the LGBT community, and it’s embraced her right back.

“Once, this beautiful gay boy told me that at his new school he felt bullied and alone and too scared to come out to anyone, fearing he was what everyone already suspected and taunted and teased him for,” she wrote on xojane last year. “He put my picture on his binder, and held it in front of him as he walked down the frightening lonely halls and he knew that if anyone commented favorably on my presence there, that he was safe with them.”

Cho’s not only an advocate of the community, she considers herself part of it as well. Her own interpretation of her sexuality is much more clear than simply labeling her as bisexual. She’s been married to artist Al Ridenour since 2003, but claims "I don't like to say I'm gay or I'm straight. I'm just slutty." She further elaborated to the New York Times in 2009: “I refer to myself as gay, but I am married to a man. Of course, I've had relationships with women, but my politics are more queer than my lifestyle."

See some more of our favorite Cho clips and quips, AFTER THE JUMP … (note: coarse language ahead)

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Gay Iconography: Diana Ross Is A Supreme Icon


Way before Beyoncé could even dream of slaying the MTV Video Music Awards, another female entertainer had risen to super-stardom from a successful singing trio. When Diana Ross had her first number one single with the Supremes, Bey was still about 17 years from even being born.

Diana Ross and the Supremes are one of the most successful groups from Motown Records. Their polished, feminine act helped make them crossover stars, including becoming the first all-female group to have an album top the Billboard Top 200. In addition to her success with the Supremes, she's also a successful solo artist, as well as an Academy Award-nominated actress. She's one of the few people to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one for herself and one as part of the Supremes.

Diana's disco-flavored solo career enshrined her as a gay icon, but she received some pushback for a less than enthusiastic response about gay marriage to The Advocate in 1999: "I just don't think I can speak about this particular issue [gay marriage] because I haven't really given it enough thoughts. It seems like girls, guys, whatever, should be able to live together without a legal contract." This soft answer aside, her music is a staple of pride celebrations across the country and woven into the fabric of gay culture.

Let's revisit some of the ultimate diva's musical high points, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Lesbian 'Kiss' On 'Dr. Who' Stirs Complaints And Arouses Support

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U.K. communications regulator Ofcom has received six complaints following a lesbian kiss on Doctor Who, reports Gay Star News. Dr who tweet 2

The complaints came after a scene in which Madame Vastra helps to keep her wife Jenny alive in response to a threat from droids that only move when they can sense breath.

One tweet suggested that “the BBC wants to become a porn channel,” while another said that “the Lizard/Lesbian kiss was ‘unnecessary.’”

However, while some viewers were upset at the thought of two women kissing before the 9pm watershed, the majority of tweets were overwhelmingly positive.

@toddlerlex pointed out that “some parents are okay with their kids watching Dr Who's organ stealing robots & impaled body…Lesbian kiss? Complain to Ofcom! Ridic.”

It has also been noted by various commenters that the “lesbian kiss” was essentially CPR and was actually an inter-species kiss.

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Gay Iconography: Sci-Fi Superheroics From John Barrowman


It's rare to find an LGBT protagonist at the heart of a successful science-fiction story. Rarer still to find one played by an openly gay actor. That's not the only thing special about John Barrowman and his portrayal of Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness, but it's certainly worth celebrating.

At a time when comic book-inspired movies and television shows are dominating popular culture, one shouldn't underestimate the importance of LGBT visibility within the historically straight male genre. Spun out of the wildly popular relaunch of Doctor Who (which returns tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on BBC America), Barrowman's character went on to headline his own spin-off. Torchwood ran four seasons (or "series" as they like to call them across the pond), including one co-produced by the BBC and U.S. cable network Starz.

Harkness, written by the same guy who created the United Kingdom's Queer As Folk, is an intergalactic lothario. While many gay characters on television are still criticized for being sexless, Barrowman's work as Captain Jack didn't shy away from his sexuality (even though it did sometimes fluster the network).

“He is unique as a gay man on television in that he's overtly sexual,” Doctor Who and Torchwood scribe Russell T. Davies told the Telegraph in 2008. "But he's also an expert at modulating his own personality for different audiences while remaining essentially himself. That's a hard thing to do. He has a gift for it."

As a regular participant at comic conventions, Barrowman dazzles the crowd with his wit and candor. Whether it's discussing the power of marriage or dropping trou to reveal his Captain America underwear, he's a much-needed role model for gay geeks the world over.

Though he's best known for Doctor Who and Torchwood, that's only the tip of Barrowman's very talented iceberg. Watch some of our favorite clips of Barrowman singing, dancing and smooching, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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