Gay Iconography Hub

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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Gay Iconography: Happy Birthday, Madonna


Fifty-six years ago today, in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna Louise Ciccone came into this world. More than half a century later, the pop landscape is forever changed.

The Queen of Pop’s legacy extends beyond the more than 300 million records she’s sold worldwide. She’s appeared in films (with varying degrees of success), written children’s books and inspired an entire generation of pop stars. But what makes Madonna so iconic — worthy of not just a college class devoted to her impact, but to an entire academic field of study — is her mastery of multimedia, sexual defiance and ceaseless reinvention.

Friends with Keith Haring and a member of the 1980s New York downtown arts scene, Madonna grew out of a heavily queer community. (She’s even attributed her initial push to pursue stardom to her gay ballet teacher.) Madonna’s sound and image pulses with queer sensibility, from the gay ballroom culture referenced in “Vogue” (or “borrowed,” if you’re being kind; “misappropriated” if you’re being serious) to the sweaty rhythms ripped from the clubs. She’s loudly championed equality, spoke out on the AIDS crisis, and, though her track record is far from flawless, she’s driven a huge amount of conversation about queer issues into the mainstream consciousness.

Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it: Celebrate the birthday [material] girl with some of our favorite clips, AFTER THE JUMP

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Gay Iconography: Andy Cohen's TV Legacy

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If you were to ask folks to name the most powerful people in television today, one name sure to pop up would be Andy Cohen. The openly gay television personality has left an indelible mark on the pop culture landscape behind the cameras, as well as in front.

A savvy producer, Cohen’s name is synonymous with Bravo’s transformation in the early ‘00s from a performing arts-focused network to the home of reality programs, like Project Runway, The Real Housewives and Millionaire Matchmaker. With the addition of his late night talk show, Watch What Happens Live, the dapper host elevated the stars of these programs into “Bravolebrities,” with their own legions of fans alongside his famous friends and guests.

Let’s raise a glass and extend a Mazel to Andy with some of our favorite clips, AFTER THE JUMP

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Gay Iconography: Is Marilyn Monroe One Of the Ultimate Gay Icons?


There’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe is all sorts of an icon. She’s an icon of femininity, an icon of sexuality, the iconic blonde bombshell. From her tumultuous and ultimately tragic history to her struggle with identity and hyper-sexual persona, she’s also been hailed as one of the ultimate gay icons.

Yes, there’s the pout, the fluttering eyelashes, the image of the wanton woman who wore only Chanel No. 5 to bed. All that is part of the big persona that continues to be a cultural touchstone, recognizable decades after her death. However, like Judy Garland, what’s made her such an enduring legend among gay fans lies in the more tragic aspects of her story. Marilyn’s fight against her dumb blonde image, her troubles with men and her crippling insecurity, made her a relatable presence for many who struggle with their sexuality, coming out and finding acceptance.

Born Norma Jeane, Marilyn overcame a troubled childhood, including growing up with her mentally ill mother, bouncing around foster care and suffering sexual abuse. She was married and divorced three times, and allegedly had an affair with Pres. John F. Kennedy. She made about 30 films before her death at age 36 from an overdose of barbituates.

During her too-short life, Marilyn often displayed a candor, wit and charm that belied the dumb blonde persona she became most famous for on screen. She also had some pretty progressive views for the time. She famously fought for Ella Fitzgerald to play a nightclub in Los Angeles by promising to sit front row every night. And she was ahead of her time on LGBT issues as well.

"When two people love each other, who cares what color or flavor or religion they are?” she said to the lesbian president of her fan club, Jane Lawrence, according to a recent biography. “It's two human beings. It's beautiful. Love is beautiful. It's that simple."

Spend some time with some of our favorite clips of Marilyn and her fans, AFTER THE JUMP

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