100 Intriguing LGBTs to Look Out for in 2017
Ever since the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality back in 2015, we’ve heard over and over again that “there’s still a long way to go.” It’s absolutely true. Not only are we facing the rollback of rights under the Trump administration, but queers around the world continue to suffer under unfair policies that perpetuate marginalization and stigmatization.
That’s why we’ve assembled this list of 100 intriguing queer people worth paying attention to. We’ve chosen to highlight a diverse array of cultural innovators who are challenging the status quo and changing the world for the better. From educators to scientists, businesspeople to activists, artists to celebrities, there are many to admire and several to hope as they work for change in the year ahead.
A new queen on the Los Angeles scene, you may have followed Meatball (née Logan Jennings) as she competed for the title of “America’s Next Drag superstar” on the Boulet Brothers’ Dragula web series. And while she may not have taken home that title, she’s won a special place in the hearts of all who love a bit of slapstick humor with our wigs and heels. 2017 is the year Meatball goes digital, as you’re sure to see her in music videos, in YouTube vids of her own and—as has become a trademark of sorts—eating large portions of food alongside special guests on Facebook Live. Bucket of chicken, anyone? —Stephan Horbelt
2. Ruben Quesada
Wherever poetry is happening, Quesada is there. The son of immigrants, he writes poignantly of his California childhood and about the mythic implications of Americana. A professor at Eastern Illinois University, he’s also co-founder of the performing arts nonprofit Stories & Queer. We’re looking forward to the words Quesada will put to paper in 2017. —Matt Baume
3. Shay Neary
Neary revels in the comfy, sexy fashions she gets to wear as a model for Coverstory. As the first trans plus-size model the company has cast, she relishes in casting off the tired tropes of naked shoots and trans women in men’s suits. Her goal: For plus-size women to be able to shop alongside their smaller friends instead of having to turn to online stores. Maybe 2017 will finally be that year. —M.B.
It was three years ago that Christeene—the Austin, Texas, drag terrorist known for such tracks as “Fix My Dick” and “African Mayonnaise”—took to Indiegogo to raise funds for her first album, Waste Up, Kneez Down. 2016 saw Christeene (known as Paul Soileau in more ‘respectable’ circles) back at crowdfunding, and having raised more than the $25K needed for a sophomore effort, 2017 will be the year fans see a new record (and hopefully more work with queer supergroup Commando). Here’s hoping the new record is as subversive and raunchy as the first. (Judging by the brand-new release “Butt Muscle,” it is!) Christeene is the official voice of punk rock in Trump’s America. —S.H.
5. Julia Kaye
6. Chen Ching-yuan
If being signed by the Tina Keng Gallery, one of the best—if not the best—galleries in Taiwan, doesn’t tell you how talented Chen Ching-yuan is, you should take a look for yourself. His work is wild, but traditional touches belie his work’s deep and dark messages. Chen stands tall among his peers in the Keng gallery—mostly big but older names. While many queer artists use the language of blatant sexuality, Chen downplays it, choosing to bring the viewer into familiar stories with a twist of queerness. Viewers come away from his art knowing what it’s like to be a minority in the Eastern world. —Darien Chen
7. Alfredo Roagui
A well-known illustrator, it’s likely you’re already familiar with Roagui’s work. Thirty years old from Guadalajara, Mexico, he’s a ‘Disney freak’ whose inspiration often comes from two of his passions: mermaids and sexy men. 2016 saw him put out his annual calendar of work while also working on the creative design of the film Hurricane Bianca starring Drag Race star Bianca Del Rio. We can’t wait to see the art Roagui unveils to the world in 2017. —Ricardo Peralta
8. Aja Queen
Are you following the rumors and speculations? Even though it hasn’t officially been announced, many are hopeful this queen will appear on the next season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She hails from Brooklyn, and is a fierce live performer. Whether she appears on RuPaul’s upcoming season or not, we know we can expect exciting things from Aja Queen this upcoming year. —Alex Kacala
9. Maya Monès
Monés occupies both the worlds of fashion and nightlife. With various hosting gigs around New York City, campaigns for Gypsy Sport and shows for top designers like Chromat, she keeps busy. Every fashion week she slays the runway for more prominent names, so we can’t wait to see who works with this beauty in 2017. “I always wanted to become a model, but it just never felt like it was a possibility because I never felt comfortable with myself growing up until I started transitioning,” she told Next magazine. “I am still in the process of learning how to be comfortable with myself and loving myself a lot. I just wanted to spread that and try and help other trans people who are coming into themselves. Or gender non-conforming people. People of all walks of life who need a boost. That is what I do it for.” —A.K.
His “wearable art”—created under the brand Onch Movement—has been featured everywhere from the pages of Italian Vogue to the necks and wrists of celebrities including Kate Moss and Kim Kardashian, but there are even bigger things in store for this Los Angeles-based artist in 2017. In addition to jewelry collaborations and charitable projects, this spring will see Onch once again create an exciting art experience for L.A. Pride, and most exciting of all, you’ll want to stay tuned for the summer announcement of a brick-and-mortar collaboration between Onch Movement and a certain popular retailer. —S.H.
11. Luo Yujia
12. Simon Hanselmann
Hanselmann is most famous for his outstanding Megg, Mogg and Owl strip, where he takes the beloved British children’s book characters “Meg and Mog” and turns them into an unhappily debauched couple, wallowing in self-destruction and self-loathing. As funny as the strip can be, it’s more often sad and disturbing watching the characters find new ways to suffer. Fantagraphics has published two essential collections, Megahex and Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam, with a third, One More Year, coming in April. —M.K.
13. Panti Bliss
In March 2014, the impassioned speech on gay rights delivered by Panti Bliss, also known as her alter-ego Rory O’Neill, was a turning point in the discussion that raged in Ireland about same-sex marriage. Considered the foremost drag queen in Ireland, he has long been open about being HIV-positive and gives this explanation on his motivations behind the fight: “What I have been about is trying to expand the definition of Irishness to include people like me—to make a space for queer people.” Panti Bliss is now invited all over Europe to talk about LGBT rights, and his Pantibar, opened in Dublin in 2007, is now a very successful business. —Christophe Martet
While we might ship Zarya and Mei, the star of Overwatch is Tracer. She’s the one who usually shows up on promotional material for the game, and this past winter, she was outed in the official Overwatch comic book. The game’s publisher, Blizzard, has said that there are other queer characters in the game, but they haven’t been revealed yet … so Zarya-Mei may be canon yet! Either way, we’re excited to see what other adventures Tracer has with her girlfriend Emily in the comics! —M.K.
15. Laith De La Cruz
You might’ve seen De La Cruz on Strut, Oxygen’s 2016 show about the world’s first trans modeling agency—a show he joined after quitting his day job to pursue modeling full-time late last year. He’s very public about his relationship with fellow trans model Arisce Wanzer (they met on the series), and the two often share peeks into their life together on Instagram. De La Cruz has already played the face of a Barneys New York campaign shot by legendary photographer Bruce Weber, but let’s see what 2017 has in store for fashion and LGBT visibility. —M.B.
16.-17. Cameron Esposito & Rhea Butcher
18. Amandla Stenberg
One of Hollywood’s most exciting young faces and queer voices is Amandla Stenberg. (Amandla means “power” in Zulu.) She came out as bisexual last year and is about to be in the films Everything, Everything and Darkest Minds. Both films promise to make her one of the year’s breakout actresses. She was also signed to a modeling agency and is considered a beauty role model for embracing her gorgeous, natural hair. —A.K.
19. Tarell Alvin McCraney
20. Pedro Almodóvar
In 1980, Almodóvar’s first publicly acclaimed film, Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón, premiered during the birth of the Spanish democracy. He went on to write and direct 21 other movies, including Todo Sobre Mi Madre and the very gay Los Amantes Pasajeros. He’s responsible for discovering star actors Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, who won an Oscar nomination for her performance in Volver. Almodóvar was recently honored with a retrospective at MOMA in NYC, and his latest film, Julieta, will compete for an Oscar for Best Foreign Movie in February. Most of his films challenged conventional mores and transgressed sexual boundaries, though while he himself is openly gay, he does not see himself as a “gay filmmaker.” —C.M.
21. Ryan Raftery
Raftery made headlines in 2015 and 2016 when he famously embodied two beasts of pop culture—Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Bravo’s Andy Cohen—in separate comedic/biographic stage shows. While this New York-based talent is planning to revive his Wintour show at Philadelphia’s esteemed Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts next month, we’re most excited for the conclusion of his trilogy, The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Martha Stewart, set for completion this year. Rumor has it that Gwyneth Paltrow and Snoop Dogg show up as supporting characters, and we can’t wait. —S.H.
22. Rafaela Silva
23. Michael Henry
You’ve likely stumbled across one of this L.A.-based comedian/actor/writer’s videos on YouTube and nearly passed out from over-exhaustive hilarity. They’re typically the perfect blend of LOL humor and brilliant insight into what it means to be a gay man in our digital age. Expect a lot more of that in 2017, as Henry plans to launch a series called “The Journey of Being Likable.” And his subscribers need not fret: He’ll keep cranking out those gay YouTube vids, and (his words, not ours) “continue to beg men to kiss him on the lips.” Pucker up, guys. —S.H.
Comedian, author and now movie director, Oceanerosemarie is also a dedicated activist of LGBT rights. Her first show, La Lesbienne Invisible (The Invisible Lesbian) was an instant hit among the lesbian and gay community, and Oceanrosemarie was then invited on many radio shows. In the past she has raised some controversies among the LGBT community by taking a stand against Islamophobia and homonationalism, and in 2017 she will play a lesbian character in her first feature film, co-written and co-directed with Cyprien Vial, Embrasse Moi! —C.M.
25. Cakes da Killa
26. Isaac Oliver
2017 is going to be an exciting year for Oliver—and his fans, too. He’ll be developing his (freakin’ hilarious) 2015 book of essays Intimacy Idiot into a television show, while also working on a second book. Earlier this month he wrote his very first piece for the New York Times—an 11-hour crawl of the city’s cultured New Year’s Eve offerings—and we’re hoping for more of that, too. Those in need of instant gratification, though, can catch Oliver in Manhattan next month, where he’ll be back at Joe’s Pub with Isaac Oliver Is Your Valentine. —S.H.
27. Kelly Mantle
Not slowed down by a first-episode elimination on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, following that cut, Mantle dove right back into acting, the profession this gender-fluid actor had been pursuing for years. Mantle’s latest achievement: securing a commitment from February’s Oscars that the annual awards would consider a nomination in both the female and male categories for a brilliant appearance in Confessions of a Womanizer. Here’s hoping Mantle serves up more acting for us in 2017. —M.B.
28. Ruby Rose
Everyone fell in love with Rose on the small screen in Orange is the New Black, but the androgynous actress has two major roles coming up in 2017 that will confirm she has the acting chops to take on bigger projects. She’ll play Adele Wolff in the Vin Diesel/Donnie Yen action movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage and assassin Ares in John Wick: Chapter 2. —A.K.
29. Nico Tortorella
He plays Josh on the TV Land series Younger, but most interviews conducted with Tortorella late last year were centered around how the 28-year-old actor defines his sexuality. Six months after coming out as “sexually fluid,” he claimed to identify as bisexual. “I’ve been so hesitant about using the word [bisexual] for so long, because it does have a negative connotation in our generation,” he told Vulture. “People fought for so long for that ‘B’ in LGBT, and I refuse to be the person that’s going to throw that away because I think I have a more colorful word.” 2017 will see him continue his podcast The Love Bomb, and word on the street is that he’s at work on a TV series tackling the themes of love, sex and relationships. We can’t wait. —S.H.
30. Mykki Blanco
The child of a paralegal and a psychic, Blanco started out as a character performed as a teen girl for YouTube. As fame grew, though, Blanco branched out with queercore and riot grrrl music, and Blanco recently came out as HIV-positive to spread awareness and wipe away stigma. Now the performer is considering branching out even further, toying with the idea of becoming an investigative journalist. —M.B.
31. Stephen Guarino
Our huge crush on Guarino is only going to be magnified in 2017, when we’ll be able to watch him on more than one channel. Look for him on the second season of ABC’s Dr. Ken, in a guest spot on Two Broke Girls next month and—what we’re most excited about—as zany stand-up comedian Sully Patterson on the Jim Carrey-produced I’m Dying Up Here, set to premiere June 4 on Showtime. Fans of The Big Gay Sketch Show—the Logo sketch comedy series that boosted the careers of Guarino, Kate McKinnon, Jonny McGovern and Julie Goldman, among others—will be excited to hear that Guarino is also eyeing a live tour showcasing his favorite characters from that series. Swoon. —S.H.
32. Orlando Cruz
The first professional boxer to come out while still working at the top of his field, Cruz represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. That was the same year he debuted, and it would be another nine years before anyone was able to defeat him in the ring. When the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame was looking for their first round of inductees in 2013, he was at the top of their list, and here’s hoping he continues to fight—in the ring and for queer visibility in professional sports—throughout 2017. —M.B.
33. Chuck Tingle
Little is known about Tingle, the author of such classic works of homoerotica as Space Raptor Butt Invasion and My Ass is Haunted by the Gay Unicorn Colonel. Even more mysterious, his official author photo is most likely a stock image. His biography (“Tae Kwon Do grandmaster, PhD from DeVry University in holistic massage”) is probably fake, too. But what we do know is that this mysterious weirdo is wholly devoted to fighting void-monster Trump and proving that love is real, and we can’t wait to see what kind of surreal hijinks he gets into in 2017. —R.S. Benedict
34. Alexandra Grey
You might recognize Grey from her role as Elizah, the suicidal trans teenager in the groundbreaking Amazon drama series Transparent, but this 26-year-old transgender actress and singer also appeared last year in the CBS medical drama Code Black and played trans queer rights pioneer Marsha P. Johnson in the Stonewall episode of Drunk History. “I love playing trans characters, because I get to help share narratives that can bring an awareness about trans lives,” she once told GLAAD, adding that she’d also like to tackle some non-trans roles, too. In the coming year, you’ll see her appear in Dustin Lance Black’s LGBTQ rights miniseries When We Rise, and also Doubt, a CBS legal series starring Laverne Cox (number 40 on our list) as a featured character. —Daniel Villarreal
35. Juan Pablo Jaramillo
One of the most famous LGBT YouTubers in Latin America, Jaramillo’s coming out story back in 2014 helped many people and changed the atmosphere around queer subjects in many countries. This Colombian guy currently has more than 3 million subscribers, plus a book titled The Age of Truth (La Era de la Verdad). A big supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality, we’re looking forward to what Jaramillo brings us in this new year. —R.P.
36. Sina Grace
X-Men fans are anxiously awaiting what’s in store for Bobby Drake, one of the team’s original superheroes (code name: Iceman) who we found out in 2015 is gay! Well, his comic book future couldn’t be in safer hands than those of Sina Grace, who will be writing the character’s ongoing solo title starting this spring. In addition to the X-title, Grace will be releasing a second season of his web series Self-Obsessed around March, plus a new graphic novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, that will be released by Image Comics. “It’s the happiest I’ve been with my work in a long time,” Grace tells us, and we can’t wait to wholeheartedly agree. —S.H.
37. Perfume Genius
38. Christopher Rice
A bestselling author since the release of his debut, A Density of Souls, in 2000, Rice has quite an exciting 2017 in store for us. In mere days he’ll be announcing a top-secret project he’s been teasing on social media for a year, something he’ll only describe to us as “a novel I wrote with a top-secret collaborator with whom I have many, many, many things in common.” (He’s been using the clue #mumstheword. We wonder, who could it be?) In addition to his literary career, Rice will be continuing his popular podcast-turned-YouTube channel The Dinner Party Show with his best friend Eric Shaw Quinn, and we all squealed at the announcement late last year that he and mother Anne Rice would be developing a pilot script for a TV series based on her Vampire Chronicles. So much for sleep in the new year, huh? —S.H.
39. Rebecca Sugar
40. Laverne Cox
41. Randy Rainbow
This election cycle has had a lot of breakout stars, and Rainbow is one of the viral sensations leading that pack. Election season may have given us Donald Trump in the Oval Office, but it also gave Rainbow a perfect platform. We hear he’s been in talks with various production companies and may have a book coming out this year, too, which means this Rainbow is here to stay. —A.K.
42. Naomi Nero
Brazilian writer-director Anna Muylaert’s new movie Don’t Call Me Son features Nero in the staring role, and Nero has been praised for his portrayal of “Pierre, a shaggy-haired bass player in a pop band who slips into casual, club-going hook-ups.” Out magazine writes, “In these ‘found’ moments, Muylaert gives insight into non-conformist behavior and society’s inevitable acceptance, while capturing changing cultural styles. Like the statuesque Naomi Nero, the social flux in Don’t Call Me Son cannot be ignored. This portrait of how human beings adapt makes Don’t Call Me Son altogether queer and trans and humanist.” — A.K.
43. Chris Mosier
44.-45. Lana & Lilly Wachowski
46. Steve Grand
Grand’s last album came out in March 2015, and this year he plans to release his sophomore album, one that he has been working on for quite a while. “I think there is a lot of anger and tension within our society right now for a lot of reasons,” he told OutClique. “I think people are looking for something with a stillness to it. That is what I am working on right now, and I can’t wait to share it.” Neither can we! —A.K.
47. Alex Anwandter
Before 2016, this Chilean-born musician was best known for his 2011 solo track “¿Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo?” (“How Can You Live With Yourself?”), a sassy pop anthem whose video showed real-life trans people and drag queens from Santiago slaying a local club. Then in 2016 he received two Latin Grammy nominations for Best New Artist for the album Amiga and Best Short Form Music Video for “Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón” (“It’s Always Friday in My Heart”), a nightmarish liberation fantasy he directed. Anwandter continued exploring his passion for directing in You’ll Never Be Alone, a feature-length drama about a father dealing with his child’s gay-bashing that received rave reviews as well as the Teddy Award for best LGBT film at the Berlin International Film Festival. —D.V.
48. Young M.A
49. Nicola Adams
At the end of last year, the news was all about how Orlando Cruz lost his bout to be the first openly gay world boxing champion. While that’s technically true—he was fighting for the World Boxing Organization—there is a gay world champion: Nicola Adams, who won the gold medal for the United Kingdom in Rio last year. Not just that, but she won both of her matches 3-0, and it wasn’t even the first time she got the gold. (That was London 2012.) She’s the only female boxer to have won every major title in women’s boxing, and she’s not done yet. —M.K.
50. Eliot Glazer
He may have a famous sister (Ilana Glazer of Broad City fame), but Eliot Glazer continues to make a name for himself outside of her shadow. His bi-coastal cabaret Haunting Renditions Live plays packed houses in New York City and Los Angeles, and as a classically trained vocalist-turned-comedian, Glazer takes some of pop music’s most infamous songs and turns them into highbrow, sweeping ballads. He will be back on Broad City later this year, with more solo projects not yet ready to be announced happening in tandem. —A.K.
51. Kenta Seki
Seki started off 2017 as the cover boy for a calendar titled Haikus on Hotties, showcasing sexy Asian male celebs and influencers, all in an effort to break stereotypes about Asian men. (Proceeds even benefitted organizations promoting Asian-American equality.) But those in the mood for something more lively can pick up one of Seki’s workout videos, part of his friend Jillian Michaels’ FitFusion streaming fitness company. Keep your eyes peeled (and your core prepped) for new videos coming out soon! —S.H.
52. Andy Sabola
Austin, Texas, is a tiny blue bubble in a huge red state, which means there’s a lot of work to do for the queer community on a local level. You can bet that Sabola’s Gelateria Gemelli, a gelato shop and espresso bar on the city’s east side, is doing its part. Last year the shop worked with AIDS Services of Austin, OutYouth and Casa Marianella, which provides safe housing for immigrant women and children who are escaping violence. Sabola even offers up the shop to grassroots organizations outside of business hours. “I don’t believe in a separation between business and politics,” Sabola tells us. “The store is my life, and Gemelli reflects my values. It is so important, now more than ever, to be a safe haven for marginalized folks, and that’s what we hope to be.” What an amazing example for small businesses nationwide. —S.H.
53. Viktor Pelayo
You know Pelayo’s company Huntees as the web’s top store for purchasing the merch of your favorite drag queens and queer artists (including Alfredo Roagui, who comes in at number 7 on our list), but 2017 will see Huntees go brick-and-mortar with a West Hollywood storefront. It’ll be a place for his artists to stage meet-and-greets, as well as a spot for customers to place custom orders. In the near future, you’ll even be able to upload your own art and have it printed onto T-shirts and other items. Here’s to a gay entrepreneur who knows his queer customer base and serves them right. —S.H.
54. Johnny Shih
While Maybelline and Covergirl have both hired young gay men to market their female cosmetics to younger guys, Shih has skipped the female market altogether by creating Unicorn, a cosmetics line specifically targeted at gay men, including products like a “Buttocks Lift Mask” and “Sculpting Abdomen Gel.” While you may feel conflicted about products that could make gay men feel even more body-conscious than they already do, Shih has also used his company to advocate for LGBTQ rights in Taiwan. Unicorn participated in Taiwan Pride, worked with the Taiwan AIDS Foundation and sponsored Sodom’s Cat, a gay Taiwanese film. The company hopes to eventually expand into the U.S. market. —D.V.
55. Chris Puckett
“2017 is going to be our best year yet,” says Puckett, a guy who truly turned his passion into his occupation. As the founder/owner of Puckett Excursions, he leads all-inclusive group trips to some of the world’s most gorgeous sites, mixing high-adventure and luxe accommodations. (We’re talking everything from five-star resorts to exclusive jungle tree houses.) In 2017 alone—his third year—Puckett is leading excursions to Thailand, Yosemite, Redwood National Park, Yellowstone, Chile and more. Let this handsome fella show you how to really travel the world. —S.H.
56. Duane Wells
There are few luxurious spots on the globe this luxury lifestyle curator hasn’t uncovered, explored and written home about, but 2017 will see Wells take his expertise a step further still. On tap for the new year is a LivingWells travel concierge service that aims to create curated travel itineraries for the most discerning travelers, as well as a menswear blog and the debut of a brand-new series of travel guides. Can’t decide where to vacation next? Let Duane Wells offer some advice. —S.H.
57.-58. Christof Wittig and Sean Howell
Wittig and Howell created the gay social network Hornet because they were dissatisfied with other apps on the market, and today it has grown to over 15 million users worldwide. Just last year, Hornet acquired $8 million in funding and integrated city guides to expand its worldwide use. Fostering an online community is extremely important to Wittig (Hornet’s CEO) and Howell (its President), and they have used the app for good since its inception, promoting HIV testing internationally with Hornet’s “Know Your Status (KYS)” initiative, by supporting the LGBTQ gaming convention GX and by advocating for same-sex marriage in Taiwan. 2017 will be a landmark year for the app as it continues its ascendance to become the world’s number one gay app. —M.B./D.V.
59. Matthieu Jost
The idea is shockingly simple: an AirBnB for gays. That became Jost’s mission after an unpleasant vacation experience four years ago, when a rental host was hostile to him and his partner, and thereafter Jost founded MisterBnB, which also hosts meet-ups in cities around the globe. It’s important that gays the world over feel like they can safely traverse a map, and that they will be welcomed wherever their passports may take them, and MisterBnB is helping to make that a reality. —M.B.
60. Beth Bishop
As owner of The Phoenix Effect—a community-driven group fitness studio in Los Angeles that has been hailed nationwide for its programming—Bishop wants to make you stronger, faster and healthier, but she also wants to support our larger community. Last year the studio raised $150K for charities like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Camp Brave Trails, and she’s aiming for $250K this year. Also potentially in the cards for 2017: a second Phoenix Effect location. “We are really focusing on always making the studio the best it can be and empowering as many people as we can through fitness and community,” Bishop tells us. “Now more than ever, with this evil president coming in, I think it’s important for like-minded people to band together and support each other. Strong people are harder to kill after all.” Here’s to a more powerful community. —S.H.
61. Geng Le
It couldn’t have been easy to found China’s first gay social network, but then again, Geng Le never shied away from a challenge. A former cop, he founded Blued to connect queer guys to each other and show the world that Chinese gays are happy, healthy and supportive. Contrary to the anti-gay crackdown coming from the country’s government, Le uses his social network to promote queer health, both mental and physical. —M.B.
62. Arnold Myint
It’s one thing to be an accomplished chef, and it’s one thing to be a talented drag queen, but it’s another thing altogether to be called both. There’s clearly not much that Myint—a chef, restaurateur, entertainer and party guru from Nashville, Tennessee—can’t do. A contestant on Top Chef’s seventh season, a favorite on Food Network Star Season 11 and a judge on Food Network’s Chopped Junior (with a YouTube series of his own called Hint of Myint), he’s also known as Suzy Wong, currently the 46th Miss Gay America. Look for Arnold (and Suzy) at this year’s pageant (held Oct. 4-7 in New Orleans) and keep an eye out as she travels the country, making appearances celebrating her reign. —S.H.
63. Andre Fischer
Before Fischer began Mix Brasil, a major pop culture and political portal for the the Brazilian LGBTQ community, there wasn’t much good info about LGBTQ people in Portuguese. Since then, Mix has become a major hub for LGBTQ news, lifestyle and politics. Fischer is also the founder of the MiX Festival, an alternative film festival highlighting work that promotes new outlooks on sexual desire and expression, and he has helped the festival’s films get broadcast on Brazilian TV. Having also worked as a DJ on nationally broadcast radio programs, Fischer remains hyperconnected to Brazil’s creative and activist community, and he continues to push for greater LGBTQ rights nationwide through his multiple media platforms. —D.V.
64. Suki Sandhu
Three years ago, Sandhu founded OUTstanding, an executive level network for LGBT businesspeople and allies that seeks to create welcoming work environments where LGBT executives can succeed. Since then, his organization has helped connect international companies with qualified, openly LGBTQ candidates and has released annual lists of the top leading LGBTQ executives, allies and future leaders. “I’m hugely proud that all of our featured role models continue to challenge the assumption that you can’t be openly LGBT in business and be a success,” Sandhu says. In addition to his work at OUTstanding, Sandhu is also a Stonewall Ambassador and a donor who has given to organizations such as Diversity Role Models and the StandUp Foundation, two groups that oppose homophobic school bullying; the Albert Kennedy Trust; a group for LGBTQ homeless youth; and the Terence Higgins Trust. —D.V.
65. Jon Miller
Not only was Miller named one of Financial Times’ “Top 100 LGBT Executives” in 2015, he also leads a group called Open for Business, a coalition of 20 global companies (including AT&T, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Virgin) that push for LGBTQ rights around the world. Miller’s take is that “inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth”; there’s evidence that he’s right, promising a brighter future ahead as these companies extend into the roughly 80 countries where LGBTQ identity remains a crime. —D.V.
66. Victoria Orphan
Orphan is a geobiologist who received a 2016 MacArthur Fellowship (aka a “Genius Grant”) for her work examining deep-sea microbes and their effect on the ecosystem. By looking at the way these microbes process methane (a greenhouse gas that warms the planet more than carbon dioxide), her work seeks to understand the different ways our oceans and their creatures affect the Earth’s climate, an important study considering climate’s increasing impact on coastal world cities. Orphan is also the James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. —D.V.
67-68. Sheldon Fields & Christopher Hucks Ortiz
Fields is a registered nurse with over 25 years of experience leading administrative, research and academic teams. Ortiz is an evaluation specialist who has worked in community health centers. They have both had a long interest in the effect of community-based HIV prevention efforts on disenfranchised communities, and together they helped conduct the HIV Prevention Trials HPTN-073 study, an $8 million dollar study funded by the National Institute of Health to assess innovative methods of encouraging Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) use among black men who have sex with men (MSM) in three U.S. cities. Using a novel coordinated counseling and care approach that helped black men meet their sexual health and psychosocial needs, they developed better methods of keeping poor black MSM on PrEP, ensuring that the communities most affected by HIV can reduce new transmissions and stay healthier overall—a huge breakthrough. —D.V.
69. Rochelle Diamond
For centuries, science has followed a patriarchal system of publication and review mostly overseen by straight white men. So it’s noteworthy that Diamond and her wife (also a scientist) co-founded the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), an organization that is currently conducting a study to understand just how many LGBTQ people work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In addition to the study, NOGLSTP also holds Out to Innovate, a biannual conference for LGBT STEM professionals. Regarding the study and conference, Diamond has said, “I want companies to step up and help us mentor people and be part of this inclusive programming to get people to come together and learn best practices and how to manage their lives so that they can feel not only productive, but safe.” —D.V.
70. Nergis Mavalvala
This past year you may have heard of a scientific experiment proving the existence of gravitational waves—disturbances in the fabric of spacetime that had been completely theoretical until then. Mavalvala, a professor of quantum astrophysics and the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals’ 2014 Scientist of the Year, was a member of that experimental team; she began her work on it during her early years in graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a 2010 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for her work. While the existence of gravitational waves may sound like an inconsequential bit of egghead trivia, it could actually help unlock secrets about the creation of the universe and lead to a single unifying theory of all physics. She and her team will likely be nominated for a Nobel prize for their discovery. —D.V.
71. Pepe Julian Onziema
A Ugandan LGBTQ rights activist and a trans man, Onziema was arrested in the same August 2016 raid as Frank Mugisha (#85 on our list). His work got him named a “Global Citizen” by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012, and while he’s been arrested multiple times, he refuses to let fear stop the fight for rights. You might have seen Onziema being interviewed by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight in 2014, where he said, “The fact that you guys [Westerners] know about me is a form of protection for me.” So keep an eye on him in 2017. He needs it. —R.S.B.
72. Johan Amaranthe
In 2016, Amaranthe and Brian Scott Bagley launched Paris Black Pride, which is part of the U.S.-based Center for Black Equity’s international network of black pride celebrations. Their first appearance at the Pride march in 2016 was a real success. In July, a weekend included a panel discussion, film screening, history walk in “Black Paris,” exposition and picnic—plus numerous parties. In 2017, Amaranthe wants to broaden the aim of Paris Black Pride in making it a movement to unite the diverse and still less visible community of LGBT people from African descent in the Paris region. —C.M.
73.-75. Mark Takano, Tammy Baldwin and Brian Sims
As of this feature, LGBT individuals make up only 1% of the Senate and 1.38% of the House of Representatives. Of these members, only two are women and one is a person of color. There’s no trans representation whatsoever. That’s not OK. To top it off, Donald J. Trump and Co. are running our country, which is why it’s imperative for our LGBT politicians to be more vocal than ever in 2017. Sims (a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives), Mark Takano (a House Rep. from California’s 41st district and the only LGBT POC within the House) and Tammy Baldwin (a senator from Wisconsin and the only LGBT individual in the Senate) all represent the diversity we would like to see grow in U.S. politics. Our eyes and ears will be following these three closely as we watch how they handle the Trump administration. —D.A.
76. Dr. Chris Donaghue
As if taking over the world-famous Loveline wasn’t enough (he has officially taken place of Dr. Drew, cohosting the weekly podcast alongside Amber Rose every Thursday), not to mention weekly guest spots on daytime talk show The Doctors and appearances on MTV’s Amber Rose Show, Donaghue—a nationally certified sex therapist—will be spending 2017 lecturing around the country and promoting his latest book, Sex Outside the Lines. An expert on sexual and relational health, sex, gender and identity, he’s a refreshing change of pace from typical sex-shaming psychology. “I’m continuing my social justice mission,” he says, “to promote Queer identity as a healthy, non-normative sexual and social identity position that is neither gay nor heterosexual, and lives outside the binary.” Try arguing with that. —S.H.
77. Genaro Lozano
A well-known Mexican activist, journalist and teacher who has been involved in the advancement of LGBT rights in his home country, Lozano is a political expert and has important media presence. As the host of two televised news shows, he uses his platform to promote LGBT rights. This year he’ll be focusing on finishing a book as well as his doctorate degree, and luckily continuing with his broadcasts.—R.P.
78. Toni Rocca
After its second year, GX (aka GaymerX, the nation’s only LGBTQ gaming convention) looked like it was going to die. The fledgling team had spent a lot of money in its second year, and without a huge turnaround, there wouldn’t be a third. At that point, Rocca took over as president and made huge financial sacrifices to put on GX3, the convention’s biggest and most successful year. While GX continues to inspire a new generation of queer game developers and fans (even expanding into an East Coast conference this last fall), Rocca has used her influence to encourage other companies to create better practices for inclusivity. —D.V.
79. Patty Sheehan
Sheehan has been working in Orlando politics for nearly two decades—fighting for pedestrian safety and safe, fun, livable neighborhoods—and thanks to her, Orlando got nondiscrimination protections and domestic partnerships long before anywhere else in Florida. The city was of course faced with a heartbreaking national tragedy last June, but we look forward to seeing how Sheehan is able to assist in making the city even more gay-friendly than it was before the attack. —M.B.
80. Grace Lawrence
Lawrence emigrated from Liberia to Minnesota to San Francisco, where she found herself arrested for sex work and drug possession. Forced into isolation in prison (she was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for nearly three years, and in solitary confinement for most of that time), eventually a judge ruled that Lawrence should be released rather than deported back to Africa. Lawrence now works to help other trans immigrants through her work as an activist, motivational speaker and photojournalist. —M.B.
81. Alex Liu
For some reason, America’s still afraid to talk frankly about sex, so Alex Liu used Kickstarter to fund a documentary called A Sexplanation, aimed at teaching viewers about the psychology, biology, sociology and joys of healthy sex. Liu loves teaching others how to enjoy their bodies safely and sanely, and his project could open up whole new worlds of pleasure. Liu raised more than double the amount he was seeking to fund the Sexplanation project, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us this year. —M.B.
82. Chelsea Manning
83. Ramy Eletreby
Eletreby wears a lot of hats: He’s a writer, performer and an Afro-Arab-Egyptian, and he speaks out about being a queer Muslim. It’s a perspective that we seldom hear, but Eletreby isn’t afraid to open up about living at the intersection of a sexuality and religion that are often at odds. He now works to build community in his hometown of Los Angeles, and we’re excited to see what he has in store for us in 2017. —M.B.
84. Indianara Siqueira
Sao Paulo-born Siqueira has become Rio de Janeiro’s foremost trans advocate, combining her direct style of street activism with pragmatism and flair. She ran away from home at age 16 after facing queerphobic abuse from her family and community; from there, she lived on the streets and befriended trans sex workers, one of which became her mentor. Since then, she has challenged governmental misgendering of trans people through multiple arrests for baring her breasts in public (something which should technically be legal seeing as the city lists her as male); founded PreparaNem, a prep course for trans people who want to attend university; and currently heads the Transrevolução Group, a trans-led street action group that challenges the many murders of trans women locally. —D.V.
85. Frank Mugisha
An LGBTQ rights activist and an openly gay man living in Uganda—where homosexuality is a criminal offense—his courageous struggle against the forces of bigotry earned Mugisha the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award in 2011. He was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Last August, Mugisha and some of his fellow LGBTQ activists were arrested by the Ugandan police, stripped, humiliated and then released without charge. Despite the danger he faces on a daily basis, Mugisha refuses to give up the fight for queer rights. —R.S.B.
86.-89. The House of Avalon (Hunter Crenshaw, Mark Monroe, Grant Vanderbilt and Caleb Feeney)
Seeing as how nothing substantially queer was coming out of their home state of Arkansas, The House of Avalon did the only thing they knew how to do: party. The foursome began to throw queer parties at their house, which eventually led to a partnering with Club Sway in Downtown Little Rock—and a revamping of the venue as a sanctuary they deemed Glitterrock. Now, with the simple aim to “be as gay as humanly possible in the face of an oncoming Trump empire,” the House is leaving an Arkansas queer community that can now sustain itself for the sunny shores of Los Angeles, where they seek to creatively challenge themselves in 2017. —S.H.
90. Conner Habib
Author, lecturer, advocate and cute as the dickens, is it any wonder we love Conner Habib? He’s written brilliant essays about culture’s love-hate relationship with pornography, and he’s one of the few porn performers with a grad school degree. When interviewed for The Sewers of Paris, he said that while he’s found himself in many different subcultures (from the occult to punk), he never sees himself as an outsider but as “a bridge between different worlds.” The world would be a better place if everyone saw life that way. —M.K.
91. Li Tingting
Tingting (aka Li Maizi) made international news in 2015 when she and four other feminists were detained by the Chinese government for planning a protest against sexual harassment on public transportation. A lesbian, she married her partner Teresa Xu later that year, though the Chinese government does not recognize same-sex marriage. Fierce and fearless in the face of totalitarian oppression, Li Tingting is an inspiration to queer feminists everywhere. —R.S.B.
92. Ian Brossat
Paris Deputy Mayor in charge of housing since 2014—on the team of Anne Hidalgo, the city’s very LGBT-friendly first female mayor—Brossat came out in 2011. He entered politics with the Communist Party in 1997 at the age of 17. Confronting the conservative right in the wealthy 16e arrondissement, he opened a shelter for the homeless there. Very active on social networks, Brossat knows what intersectionality means. Last year, he made possible the renaming of a Paris promenade to Coccinelle, the first world-renowned trans woman. This year he will open right in the center of Paris a shelter for LGBT homeless youth and LGBT refugees. —C.M.
93. Alix Béranger
￼With a group of seven other lesbian and feminist women (including Elisabeth Lebovici, Veronica Noseda and Alice Coffin), Béranger launched in 2016 the first foundation to financially support lesbian activities (la LIG: Lesbiennes d’Intérêt Général). Before that, she was at the forefront of the group Oui Oui Oui, a action-driven group fighting (still unsuccessfully) for the opening of Assisted Medical Procreation to all women. In 2017, LIG will finance activism, research projects and art, among other things. The organization is the first of its kind in France, and it’s one their gay brothers didn’t think of before. —C.M.
94. Peter Tatchell
Tatchell is one of the most dedicated, brave and brilliant activists in the world, born in Melbourne, Australia. To avoid conscription into the Australian Army, he moved to London in 1971 and became a member of the Gay Liberation Front. In the 1990s, he campaigned for LGBT rights through the direct action group OutRage!, which he co-founded. But in 2007, a number of African LGBTI leaders signed a statement condemning the involvement of Tatchell and OutRage! in African issues. An opponent of the war in Iraq and nuclear energy, Tatchell received the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament in London late last year, and his fight for peace will continue throughout 2017. —C.M.
95. Volker Beck
One of the most prominent (and sometimes controversial) gay personalities in Germany, Volker Beck from the Green Party made headlines last year but not for any proud accomplishment: In March, Berlin found Beck to be in possession of 0.6 grammes of crystal meth. The following day, Beck resigned from his positions, only keeping his seat in the Bundestag. Nevertheless, Beck served as spokesman of the Association of Lesbians and Gays in Germany (LSVD) for more than 10 years. He is a supporter of same-sex marriage and has been referred to as the “Father of the German Registered Partnership Act.” Activism is second nature for him. In June of last year, Beck was among 19 people detained by Turkish police in Istanbul during the annual Istanbul Pride week, after authorities banned their march. Here’s hoping his activism in support of the LGBT rights movement continues throughout 2017. —C.M.
96. Eliel Cruz
Even in 2017, bisexual visibility predominantly exists in a clouded area of ambiguity, whereas the identity lacks the voice seen by L’s, G’s and T’s. Cruz is helping to define that voice. As a bisexual writer and advocate, he’s created some of the most interesting bisexually oriented content on the internet, and in addition to this, he has a history and passion in bridging the gaps of faith, gender and sexuality. We can’t wait to see what Cruz brings to the table in terms of a strong bisexual presence in 2017. —D.A.
97. Fan Popo
A young gay filmmaker in a country with little in the way of gay rights or free speech, in 2015 Fan won a legal battle against the Chinese government over its censorship of his film Mama Rainbow (2012), a documentary about Chinese moms and their relationships with their queer children. In 2016, he released the follow-up, Papa Rainbow, about Chinese dads and their LGBTQ children. Will he have to sue the censors again? Stay tuned. —R.S.B.
98.-99. Dark Matter (Janani Balasubramanian and Alok Vaid-Menon)
Even if you haven’t heard of this trans South Asian performance art duo, you may have heard of Dark Matter, their brainchild that has become influential among activists and queer people of color (QPOC) around the world. The two met at Stanford University, joined the Stanford Slam Poetry Team and have gone on to give performances, workshops and speeches across the U.S. as a way of highlighting their personal journeys and how privilege and oppression harm activist space—particularly homonationalism, the use of violence against people of color under the pretense of “queer rights” (think Trump promising to crush Daesh/ISIL for throwing gay people off of buildings while doing nothing to improve LGBTQ rights anywhere else). Balasubramanian has continued doing freelance work with groups like the Detention Watch Network and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, while Vaid-Menon recently appeared in HBO’s The Trans List and is the Communications and Grassroots Fundraising coordinator at the Audre Lorde Project, a QPOC organization in New York City. —D.V.
100. Ophelia Pastrana
Better known as OphCourse, Pastrana is a Colombian trans woman living in Mexico. The BBC named her one of six Latina trans women making a change, and she works hard fighting for trans visibility in media, utilizing her strong social media presence. Pastrana’s got big plans for 2017, so we’re making sure you keep our eye on her. —R.P.