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 …