It’s pride month, which means it’s time to celebrate freedom—of expression, gender identity, and love. But if you’re not the type to go out and party, you may be looking for a more low-key way to get in on pride month activities. If that’s the case, may we suggest checking out the work of some of the queer entertainers who are redefining the entertainment business?
There are more out celebrities than ever before, and they’re producing the films, television, and music that get us through the days, even if we often don’t know it. But if you want to get intentional about checking out the work of LGBTQ+ entertainers, we’re happy to drop some names to start you off. Here are ten queer celebrities who are changing the world and making it just a bit more free.
Coming out as a gay man in Hollywood is a risky move, particularly if your “type” is the swoon-inducing hunk that all the ladies are supposed to fall for. But Wentworth Miller has somehow managed to make it work, bringing his chiseled jaw to shows like Prison Break and House, and to the big screen in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Back in 2007, Wentworth denied being gay in an interview with InStyle Magazine, but in 2013, when Russia made it illegal to distribute materials that “normalized” homosexuality to minors, Wentworth went with his conscience and came out in an open letter to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival. “I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.” We love anyone who puts their principles first.
Let's be real, Kristen Stewart was more likely giving Robert Pattinson some advice on a topic of mutual interest. pic.twitter.com/lpls5Zfl9B
— Salmon of doubt (@frankenstellar) June 5, 2018
Kristen Stewart’s relationships have long been a point of public speculation. Her high-profile romance with her Twilight costar Robert Pattinson ended in scandal, and, as Stewart pointed out during her SNL monologue, inspired a disproportionate number of tweets from Donald Trump. During that same speech, she also opened up about her private life in a rare way: “Donald, if you didn’t like me then, you’re really probably not going to like me now because […] I’m, like, so gay, dude.” And with romantic links to everyone from musician St. Vincent to model Stella Maxwell, Stewart’s dating history is becoming a who’s who of queer women, which is just another achievement to put on her massive resumé.
🔘 In need of a new Frank Ocean album. pic.twitter.com/lPJ1A5pQ60
— The FADER (@thefader) June 3, 2018
It’s been nearly six years since the coming out heard round Tumblr. In 2012, Frank Ocean, a member of the Odd Future hip hop collective, and a solo star thanks to his album Channel Orange, posted an emotional message on his Tumblr account. “I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. […] And on the days we were together, time would glide.” It was a courageous move for a star just in the process of breaking out as an artist, and it proved that, despite some beliefs to the contrary, queer men can thrive in mainstream hip hop scene.
Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood’s character in Westworld (season 1, anyway) may be a male fantasy — docile and pliable — but in real life, Wood is an outspoken activist about everything from sexual assault survivors’ rights to her own bisexuality. Wood has also posted on her Instagram hinting that she may have a crush on a certain SNL cast member. Speaking of which…
It turns out SNL’s funniest current cast member is also its first out lesbian. And Kate McKinnon’s sexual orientation wasn’t a big reveal used at a convenient marketing moment. For as long as she’s been a celebrity, she’s been out. She even got her start on comedy program The Big Gay Sketch Show. But McKinnon’s sexuality has never defined her — instead, it’s her goofball humour and dead-on impressions of everyone from Hillary Clinton to Justin Bieber that do that.
Laura Jane Grace
Laura Jane Grace had been fronting punk band Against Me! for 15 years before she came out as transgender and made the decision to transition. In a dude-centric punk scene, coming out as trans was risky as a career move, but it has paid off for Grace, who was embraced by her bandmates and the queer community. She also discovered that being honest about her identity, and bringing it to her music, was the punkest thing possible. As she told Rolling Stone, “However fierce our band was in the past, imagine me, six-foot-two, in heels, f*cking screaming into someone’s face.”
As we recently reported, Janelle Monae had people running to the dictionary when she came out as pansexual earlier this spring. During the lead-up to the release of her newest album, Dirty Computer, Monae told Rolling Stone Magazine that she was queer and attracted to people of all genders. However, we like the label she created for herself even better than the ones included in the dictionary: “I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf******.”
You may not know Big Freedia, but you’ve definitely heard her voice. The New Orleans bounce artist had her music sampled on a little song called “Formation” by Beyoncé, not to mention on Drake’s new track, “Nice For What.” But sampling aside, Freedia has her own incredible music career and has been a staple of the New Orleans music scene for years, offering up some of the most cathartic and sweaty dance parties you could imagine. Freedia herself perfectly embodies the freedoms available to those who shed the rigid rules that often surround gender identity. While she identifies as a “straight-up gay man,” one interviewer hit it right on the nose when they said, “Everyone either knows (or quickly learns) to use the feminine pronoun when referring to you.” And Freedia’s response was encapsulation of what we love about her: “I think gender identity is on a spectrum and that means there’s lots of grey area!”
This queer star of Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale has the kind of charisma that might just be able to “turn” straight women — which is actually how Wiley met her wife. Lauren Morelli was a writer on the show and hadn’t dated women before she met Wiley, who said she was attracted to the way Morelli “was a boss” on set. Apparently, the feeling was mutual. Morelli soon realized she wasn’t just a straight woman, and an on-set romance began, birthing some of the cutest Instagram posts ever and leading, a few years later, to marriage.
It’s a sad reality that coming out is often seen as a bad career move, particularly for men in Hollywood. But for Zachary Quinto — aka Spock — that hasn’t been the case. “I work more now than I ever did when I was in the closet, and I’m doing a wider range and variety of roles than I ever did before I came out,” Quinto told the Telegraph. And it’s true, since he first made it big in Star Trek in 2009, Quinto has been a regular on TV’s American Horror Story, shown up on Broadway, and been in critically acclaimed films like Snowden and Margin Call. Here’s hoping that Quinto’s story will become the new normal for all queer people, in Hollywood and beyond.