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      culture Ryan White 11 July 2017

      i-D’s A-Z of lgbtq idols

      While the term ‘gay icon’ (think: Cher, Judy Garland, Elton) may no longer have resonance to a generation of LGBTQ youth, these current and historical artists, activists and advocates certainly do. From small acts of solidarity to full blown revolution, here’s our gAy-Z of LGBTQ idols.

      i-D’s A-Z of lgbtq idols i-D’s A-Z of lgbtq idols i-D’s A-Z of lgbtq idols

      A) Amandla Stenberg
      For being candid about her own nuanced sexuality, and opening a conversation about the vast spectrum of sexualities that exist but aren't discussed.
      Special mention: Alasdair McLellan
      For his unique ability to portray both vulnerability and strength in young men through his imagery. The i-D contributor has created beautiful portraits of young men (and women) for two decades.

      B) Bayard Rustin
      A leader and tireless activist for civil rights, nonviolence and pacifism as well as gay rights, in 2013, Barack Obama posthumously awarded Bayard the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 26 years after his death.
      Special mention: Bisi Alimi
      A vocal HIV activist, Bisi Alimi took the extraordinarily brave step of coming out as gay on Nigerian national television in 2004. He now lives in London where he continues to campaign for LGBT rights.
      Special special mention: The Babadook
      Not the gay icon we deserved in 2017, but the gay icon we needed. Rumour has it the B in LGBT stands for Babadook.

      The Babadook

      C) Chelsea Manning
      A self-proclaimed "#Luminaire for Transparency", Chelsea Manning made history as the first transgender inmate to be permitted to undergo gender transition surgery, and became an LGBT icon in the process.
      Special mention: Carly Rae Jepsen
      Queen of pop music, queen of the gays. Her last album Emotion banged.

      D) David Hockney
      For doing all those nice nude paintings you went and saw at the Tate earlier this year, and just for making stripey shirts a thing for such a long time.
      Special mention: David Bowie
      For his ambiguous sexuality and flamboyant fashion, which probably made it just a little bit easier for your Uncle Julian to come out to your grandparents.

      Edward Enninful. Photography Wolfgang Tillmans

      E) Edward Enninful
      Not only has British Vogue's new Editor made history as the first black man to helm the style bible, he's also the first gay man to do so. A historic moment for the industry, especially when considering how much fashion owes the talent and innovation of both the black community and the gay community.
      Special mention: Ellen
      For being one of, if not the most, visible gay women in the world, and helping pave the way for greater acceptance in the entertainment industries.

      F) Frank Ocean
      For changing the game. Channel Orange was a moment in time, a landmark in music, with same-sex pronouns used by an African-American male musician. Last year's follow-up, Blonde, and subsequent singles Lens and Chanel all touch on themes on queerness that're still rarely discussed in R&B and hip-hop.
      Special mention: Tom of Finland
      A repressed gay man living in conservative Scandinavia, Tom of Finland created homoerotic illustrations that had a profound effect on 20th century gay culture.

      G) Grayson Perry
      For his thoughts on our outdated codes of masculinity, and his legs in a pair of heels. Two of the most compelling arguments for us to embrace a bit more gender fluidity.
      Special mention: Grace Jones
      For being "Queen of the Gay Discos".

      Hanne Gaby Odiele. Photography Mayan Toledano

      H) Hanne Gaby Odiele
      For publicly discussing her intersex status earlier this year, and opening a conversation sorely needed about gender identity.
      Special mention: Halsey
      For being an open and honest bisexual singer in an industry that wants to reduce female bisexuality to a male fantasy.

      I) Ilana from Broad City
      Carefree and sexually liberated, we could all benefit from being a bit more like Ilana tbqh.
      Special mention: Iris Apfel
      Nonagenarian Iris has been loud and proud about her unique style for nearly 100 years -- proof that fashion fades, style is eternal.

      J) James Baldwin
      For speaking out so honestly about systemic racism and homophobia when few others would, and inspiring optimism and activism in so many. 
      Special mention: Barry Jenkins
      For directing the Oscar-winning Moonlight, one of the most powerful, compelling coming-of-age stories of our generation; bringing the difficult intersection of black masculinity and queerness to the world's stage.

      K) Kristen Stewart
      For not being shy about coming out. For clearing up, and for that shaved head
      Special mention: Frankie Knuckles
      For being the Godfather of House Music and having a profound effect upon the music our generation consumes and the clubs we attend.

      L) Laverne Cox
      For being a transgender trailblazer. The first transgender woman to be on the cover of TIME magazine, and to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy.
      Special mention: Bruce LaBruce
      For making the decidedly unsexy strangely erotic for three decades.

      M) Mykki Blanco
      For bravely coming out as HIV positive publicly two years ago, Mykki Blanco made an important step in breaking down the stigmas attached to it in the music industry and beyond.
      Special mention: Mhairi Black
      When the UK's youngest MP was asked about her decision to "come out" as gay, she answered "I've never been in."

      Hari Nef. Photography Hanna Moon 

      N) Hari Nef
      For covering magazines, fronting billboards, and walking catwalks. As a proud, loud transgender woman and activist, this means so much. 
      Special mention: Ingrid Nilsen
      With four million YouTube followers, beauty blogger Ingrid's "Coming out" video has now amassed over 16 million views and garnered almost 800,000 "likes". A big step when considering how often famous male "comings outs" can overshadow their female counterparts.

      O) Owen Jones
      For constantly calling out the homophobia of our elected politicians and mainstream media.
      Special mention: Olly Alexander
      For bringing more same-sex pronouns to the radio, and speaking out about the mental health pressures of being "Gay in a straight world."

      Paris Lees. Photography Harry Carr 

      P) Marsha P Johnson
      For being instrumental in the gay liberation movement. Many say Johnson helped start the Stonewall uprising on 28 June 1969, and threw the first brick that shattered the Stonewall Inn's windows.
      Special mention: Paris Lees
      To borrow from an old i-D headline, Paris Lees is more than a transgender rights activist, she's the voice of a generation.

      Q) Quentin Crisp
      Your problematic fave raconteur came out with some pretty bad comments but he also made some of the pithy comments you'll find on fridge magnets at Uncle Julian's house. Like: "The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us."
      Special mention: Christine and the Queens
      For rejecting the label of bisexuality lazily placed upon her. When asked by the BBC about identifying as pansexual she said "It means that I can fall in love with someone regardless of their gender, regardless of how they define themselves."

      Ruth Bell. Photography Mario Sorrenti

      R) RuPaul
      For being the world's most famous drag queen.
      Special mention: Ruth Bell
      For bringing her androgynous beauty to Dior's campaigns and catwalks.

      S) Shirley Manson
      For being the kindest, dog-loving, red-haired wierdo a girl could look up. For always reminding us that if someone doesn't love you for you who are then they're not worth it.
      Special mention: Collier Schorr
      For her black-and-white portraits of beautiful young men and women. The i-D contributor's lens is raw, honest and, in many cases, queer. In an industry dominated by men, as a gay woman Collier's work stands out even more for offering a view so often ignored.

      Photography Collier Schorr

      T) Tilda Swinton
      For her ethereal beauty, activism, and that time she held a rainbow flag while stood in front of a Moscow cathedral in support of the Russia's LGBT community.
      Special mention: Tom Ford
      For being the kind of suave, sophisticated gay man we all aspire to be.

      U) Ursula from Little Mermaid
      For being the gateway merperson to Camp with a capital C.
      Special mention:
      Ugly Betty's gay nephew
      For this coming out moment. Rarely does television paint it this low key yet heartfelt. 

      V) St. Vincent
      Say no more.
      Special mention: Vince Staples
      For this Twitter 'shutdown'/'clapback'.

      Photography Wolfgang Tillmans

      W) Wolfgang Tillmans
      For all those nice photos you saw at the Tate Modern a few months ago.
      Special mention: John Waters
      For being the eternal 'Pope of Trash'.

      X) The xx
      For capturing the awkwardness of being young, gay and in love in their music so beautifully.
      Special mention: Xavier Bettel
      For being the world's only current and third ever openly gay head of government. His husband, Gauthier Destenay, went viral after joining the NATO leaders' wives in this photo.

      Y) Young Thug
      For wearing dresses on his album covers and his lack of belief in the gender binary. Thugger thugger!
      Special mention: Li Yinhe
      For being "China's first sexologist." Li Yinhe is a vocal LGBT rights activist, and she and her transgender partner have been campaigning to legalise gay marriage in China for many years.

      Z) Jay Z's mum
      For sparking a conversation we rarely have, about the generation above us, who weren't granted the privilege of being openly gay for so long.
      Special mention: Zippy from Rainbow.
      Tbh I have no idea. We're done here.

      Read: The UK's best gay club opens one weekend a year, in a field in Somerset.

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      Text Ryan White

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      Topics:culture, pride week, pride, lgbtq, lgbt, vz90, gay icons, gay idols

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