June is Pride Month, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots and asking all of us to remember how we got where we are today. So we thought it might be fun to start up an annual Pride Month poll here at /bent, asking our readers to tell us the films, television shows, songs and people (both fictional and real) that have been important to them in the past 45 years.
Seventy-two people responded, and we’ll be sharing the results over the next few weeks, with the fourth poll up today: The most important LGBT actors and actresses of the last 45 years.
Now, before we get to the results: We do realize doing this kind of thing is highly subjective, which is why we’re going with “most important” and not “best.” We hoped that what resulted was eclectic mix of actors and actresses that have helped shape the queer cultural landscape. And we think it really is. But here are some interesting things to note before you go through the list:
The “points” listed next to each film refers to the way we tabulated things. People voted in top 10 lists, so if the person was #1, it got 10 points, #2 got 9 points, etc.
Some of the below aren’t generally known as “actors”.. more performers or comedians, but we included everyone that technically had acting credits to their names.
As expected, men made up for the vast majority with 15, though 10 were some women and the top 10 was an even 5/5 split.
13 of the 25 identify as gay, while 5 are lesbians, 4 bisexuals and 2 trans folk (though Divine is an arguable inclusion in the latter, as he largely identified as a gay man).
Seven of the people on the list are not American-born: 6 from the UK and one Canadian.
Eight of the people on this list were born in the 1950s, the most represented decade. Five came out of the 1970s, and 3 from the 1960s. The 1910s, 20s, 30s, 80s and 90s were all represented with one or two folks each.
The first to come out on this list did so in the 1920s, the last just earlier this year.
And in case you’re curious, the 10 runner-ups, in order of votes, were: Margaret Cho, Sean Hayes, Jane Lynch, Jim Parsons, Jack Wrangler, Cherry Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Maria Bello, John Cameron Mitchell and Ezra Miller
So without further ado, we present the 25 most important LGBT actors and actresses, according to you. Definitely use the comments section to discuss your thoughts and/or your own choices, but remember – these were your picks – do don’t blame us if your offended about their quality or lack of diversity through the LGBT spectrum. And watch the clips! Some of them are quite something.
25. Sarah Paulson – 33 points
Born: 1974 in Tampa, Florida
Came Out Publicly: In 2007, when noting her relationship with actress Cherry Jones (35th on this list).
Notable Roles: “The Notorious Bettie Page,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Game Change,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “American Horror Story,” “12 Years a Slave”
24. Chris Colfer – 35
Born: 1990 in Clovis, California
Came Out Publicly: In 2009 on Chelsea Lately (he was just 19!).
Notable Roles: “Glee,” “8,” “Struck By Lightning”
23. Nathan Lane – 36
Born: 1956 in Jersey City, New Jersey
Came Out Publicly: After the death of Matthew Shepard in 1999 (though he was out to friends and family since he was 21).
Notable Roles: “Guys and Dolls,” “The Lion King,” “The Birdcage,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “The Producers,” “Nicholas Nickleby”
22. Ben Whishaw – 37
Born: 1980 in Clifton, England
Came Out Publicly: In 2011 to Out Magazine, more or less.
Notable Roles: “I’m Not There,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “Bright Star,” “The Hour,” “Skyfall,” “Cloud Atlas,” “Lilting”
21. Wanda Skyes – 40
Born: 1964 in Portsmouth, Virginia
Came Out Publicly: In 2008 at a same-sex marriage rally.
Notable Roles: “Monster-in-Law,” “The Chris Rock Show,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine”