Pride Power List
Laverne Cox made history with her role on “Orange Is the New Black.” Steven Canals co-created “Pose,” the groundbreaking FX drama set in 1980s New York. And Frank Ocean has proved that he can do whatever he wants. The following actors, artists and advocates comprise Variety’s inaugural Power of Pride List, which honors some of the many in the LGBTQ community who use their spotlight to foster understanding and promote inclusion. We look forward to toasting their many accomplishments at our party on June 24 in New York.
Pose: FX; Vida: Starz; Jack; Platt: Gorlin/Atlantic Records
One of the few music stars who still maintains an aura of mystery and intrigue, Frank Ocean offered an unusual glimpse into his personal life in 2012 when he published an open letter coming out as bisexual, the first major male hip-hop or R&B figure to do so. Since then, in addition to releasing critically acclaimed albums, he’s spoken out against homophobia in the aftermath of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting.
She rose to fame on “Orange Is the New Black,” but Cox is now an all-media superstar. Since the debut of “Orange,” for which the actress has been nominated for two Emmys, she’s hit multiple milestones: winning a Daytime Emmy for producing the special “The T Word,” starring on a CBS procedural and modeling as a face of Beyoncé’s clothing line Ivy Park.
Miller, who plays the ultra-swift superhero The Flash, will get his DC Universe stand alone film as soon as he wraps up his work on the “Harry Potter” spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts.” The queer and genderfluid star is somehow even more in demand on the red carpet than in studio casting sessions, with his avant-garde looks earning praise and astonishment from fans
Sundholm Magnus/action press/Shu
Comedy Central creator
Building on the success of his indie standout “Other People,” Kelly and Sarah Schneider, who together were head writers for “Saturday Night Live” until 2017, created “The Other Two.” The Comedy Central critical sensation dissects the world of celebrity through the eyes of disaffected hangers-on. Unlike his outsider characters, Kelly’s invited to the party.
‘13 Reasons’ actor
Among the tabloid-friendly leads of teen drama “13 Reasons Why,” Flynn has become one of the most recognizable faces of young gay Hollywood. On Instagram he’s voiced his support for causes including gun safety. Flynn recurred in the most recent season of “True Detective” and will return this year in Season 3 of “13 Reasons Why.”
MVP of ‘SNL’
The tireless “Saturday Night Live” star added Jeff Sessions and Elizabeth Warren to her repertoire of impersonations in recent years, and may yet add to a collection of awards that already includes two Emmys. And she has been stepping outside Studio 8H, with upcoming turns in the Beatles-themed comedy “Yesterday” and a Hulu limited series about Elizabeth Holmes.
‘Queer Eye’ breakout
The most meme-friendly of Netflix’s fabulous quintet, Porowski has leveraged his newfound social media notoriety into a cookbook and a stake in a West Village restaurant. One of his more impressive feats has been molding himself into a prominent endorser, acting as the voice of brands such as Whole Foods and Vita Coco on his Instagram feed.
Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP/REX/
After commercial success with “Twilight,” Stewart pivoted to indie film, capitalizing on her ability to convey subtle emotional shifts. She became the first American woman to win a César Award (for “Clouds of Sils Maria”), before coming out as gay during a hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live.” Now she returns to big-budget cinema this year with a gritty “Charlie’s Angels” reboot.
The face of ‘Special’
With “Special,” a Jim Parsonsproduced Netflix series based on his own life and writing, former blogger O’Connell breaks a few barriers. Not only has he created and does he star in a series that deals frankly with gay relationships, but he also uses it to convey the realities of living with cerebral palsy.
Moore was a model at age 15, but it took a decade for the New York native to land the star-making role as Angel in FX’s trans drama “Pose,” Since then, Moore has become the first trans actor signed by WME and an outspoken activist on human rights issues.
Is there anything Waithe can’t do? She writes, directs and produces, and she returns to acting in the new season of “Westworld.” She recently set the internet on fire when she and Halle Berry locked lips while Waithe was guest hosting “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
The queer model-singer-actress has major big-screen credits ranging from “Paper Towns” to “Suicide Squad.” She lit up this year’s Met Gala with her surrealist, seemingly pride-inspired Dior rainbow ensemble.
Maarten de Boer for Variety
With 18 series ordered for 2019, Berlanti recently broke his own record as most prolific showrunner. The breadth of his slate — from comic book serials like “Supergirl” to dramas like “God Friended Me” — speaks to Berlanti’s consistent ability to connect with audiences. Next up: directing a biopic of Rock Hudson, the closeted star who became a gay icon.
Gaga’s most trusted
Campbell stepped up when Lady Gaga split with manager Troy Carter in 2013 and stepped in for her ex-fiancé as her replacement date for the Oscars. “She can trust and know that the gay men in her life have her back to the end of time,” Campbell has said of his client, who in the last year won an Academy Award for best original song and launched a Las Vegas residency.
John Salangsang for Variety
Fourth estate firebrand
Branded the Truman Capote (or Carrie Bradshaw) of his generation, journalist Blasberg has been gainfully employed by glossy fashion magazines and CNN as an on-air style host. He’s spent the past year putting his celebrity contacts to good use as the head of fashion and beauty partnerships at YouTube.
Courtesy of Derek Blasberg
Using her megaphone
Be it calling out Chris Pratt’s church for its negative view of homosexuality (Pratt later said his church accepts everyone) or taking Mike Pence to task for a rise in U.S. hate crimes, Page speaks bluntly to advance the LGBTQ community. She also has kept her day job, currently appearing in Netflix’s “Tales of the City” reboot and hosting the Vice travel series ”Gaycation.”
The queer playwright and television writer is the showrunner of “Vida,” the Starz series about two sisters who return home to L.A. to discover that their late mother was married to a woman. The series uses all Latina directors and has a Latinx writing room.
Ingénue in command
The 20-year-old star of “The Hate U Give” has become an important voice of her generation. Stenberg, who came out as gay in 2018, doesn’t shy away from hot-button issues, speaking confidently — and often — about race, gender and sexuality.
Maarten de Boer for Variety
Thompson has appeared in two “Creed” films, the “Avengers” franchise and the freshly minted “Men in Black: International” reboot opposite Chris Hemsworth. She revealed in 2018 that she was attracted to men and women, but insisted she wasn’t coming out because she had never been in the closet.
Andrew H. Walker/BEI/REX/Shutter
‘Russian Doll’ triple threat
A prolific playwright and film director, Headland put her considerable talents to sharp use as a writer-director-producer of “Russian Doll,” the offbeat story of a party guest who dies repeatedly.
The German singer first grabbed the international spotlight in 2009 when, at age 16, she became one of the youngest people to undergo gender confirmation surgery. After opening for Troye Sivan last year, she’s closer to achieving mainstream pop stardom (with hits like “Heart to Break” and “I Don’t Want It All”) — and making her identity a point of pride. To prove it, she’s touring America all this month.
Singer and activist
The Australian performer is the rare pop star who seems to be as passionate about identity politics as music. Sivan has Hollywood credibility too: He co-starred in the gay conversion therapy drama “Boy Erased,” directed by Joel Edgerton. Most recently, he became the face of MAC Cosmetics and launched Go West Fest, a one-day music event for LGBTQ artists and allies held in Los Angeles.
Indie pop star
St. Vincent — aka Annie Clark — brought her lesbian-chic sensibility to a new audience at this year’s Grammy Awards with her erotic duet with Dua Lipa. She also picked up her second Grammy for best rock song. It was the latest pairing of Vincent with a cool girl, following girlfriends Cara Delevingne and Kristen Stewart. It seems, though, her gayest work is yet to come — St. Vincent is producing the new album from all-grown-up riot grrrls Sleater-Kinney.
A star is born
Since coming out as queer last year, the singer-songwriter has put the music industry on blast by refusing to be defined by preconceived notions. Her latest album, “Dirty Computer,“ gives voice to the marginalized and affirms that she’s only getting started breaking barriers.
Tortorella has turned heads with roles in Fox’s “The Following” and TV Land’s “Younger.” The actor, model and Instagram influencer married Bethany C. Meyers in 2018 and came out as genderfluid. Next, they’ll release a memoir, “Space Between: Explorations of Love, Sex, and Fluidity,” in September.
Pop music rebel
Ever since she debuted her unapologetically gay music video for “Girls Like Girls” in 2015 (it has since amassed more than 100 million views), “Lesbian Jesus” Hayley Kiyoko has staked a claim to the hearts of Gen Z queer girls like no one else.
‘Dear White People’ auteur
After Kickstarting his film “Dear White People” into reality and a premiere at Sundance, Simien then turned it into a critically acclaimed series for Netflix, one that tackles race, class and sexuality on a deeply divided college campus.
Cannes history maker
In May, Leyna Bloom became the first transgender woman of color to star in a movie that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Her sublime performance in “Port Authority,” as a trans woman in the New York kiki scene, received strong reviews — and buzz that she’s poised for Hollywood greatness.
Representing a savvy and politically charged young generation of trans women on Amazon’s trailblazing “Transparent,” Lysette brings an edgy grit to the polished beauty of her character Shea. After stepping forward with sexual harassment allegations against the show’s lead actor, Jeffrey Tambor, and confronting the series’ end, Lysette is looking ahead to numerous other projects, including Jennifer Lopez’s fall drama “Hustlers.”
Andrew H. Walker/Variety/REX/Shu
As seen on ‘GMA’
The ABC News correspondent is a staple on “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight” as heparachutes around the United States to cover breaking news stories related to everything from immigration to deadly storms. On social media, he proudly documents his adventures with his husband, lifestyle expert Tommy DiDario.
So many of Carlile’s personal heroes, from Elton John to the Indigo Girls, have mid-career coming-out stories. Maybe that’s what prompted her to be one of the few major music stars to be openly gay even before the start of her 14-year recording career. Her fame reached new heights as she stole this year’s Grammy telecast with her performance of “The Joke,” a song devoted in part to supporting non-binary youth.
Tarell Alvin McCraney
McCraney is the writing force behind the game-changing film “Moonlight.” Following his 2017 Oscar win for best adapted screenplay, McCraney wrote the Netflix film “High Flying Bird” (directed by Steven Soderbergh); created “David Makes Man,” a forthcoming series for OWN; and produced the Tony-nominated play “Choir Boy.”
‘Drag Race’ juggernaut
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has launched more than 100 drag queens into the mainstream, but none has seized her moment quite like three-time contestant Shangela. In the past year, she entertained audiences in “A Star Is Born” and at the GLAAD Awards, where she performed a fiery Beyoncé medley in front of Queen Bey herself.
At a time when YouTube personalities seem content to eat their own by maligning their peers, Franta remains the friend next door who engages more than 5 million young fans as he navigates his own 20s. That’s led to a lucrative career — two best-selling books, two record labels, capsule clothing collections and a coffee subscription service — that never feels disingenuous.
The Annapurna CEO is known for taking big risks on financing independent films that she believes in, and she’s arguably the most recognizable face in a tragically small club of gay women decision-makers in Hollywood. Perhaps more important than her personal visibility is the wealth of funding and resources she gives to female and diverse filmmakers, from Olivia Wilde (this summer’s “Booksmart”) to Barry Jenkins (the Oscar-nominated “If Beale Street Could Talk”).
The YouTube personality, who has amassed almost 15 million subscribers, came out as bisexual in February in an emotional Twitter post, saying her sexuality is one of her “superpowers” — along with being a woman and a person of color. A month later, NBC announced she’ll host a new talk show, “A Little Late With Lilly Singh,” making her the only out LGBTQ woman of late night.
Under Sugar’s skilled eye, Cartoon Network’s “Steven Universe” has become one of the most quietly revolutionary shows on TV. The series, which wraps up this year, features an inclusive voice cast and teaches the value of acceptance with an empathy fit for children and adult viewers alike.
Secret ‘SNL’ weapon
Writer and podcaster Yang is a familiar face to anyone in the New York City comedy scene, but the comedian’s now finding a bigger audience as a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” where he recently appeared as Kim Jong-un.
Brought back ‘Tales’
A writing gig on “Orange Is the New Black” led to tackling some of the series’ most ambitious episodes and ultimately resulted in an executive producer role. Morelli went on to become showrunner of Netflix’s “Tales of the City” revival, which updates the iconic LGBTQ saga for 2019.
Drew Altizer Photography/REX/Shu
Evan Rachel Wood
Since coming out as bisexual in 2011, the “Westworld” actress has been outspoken about the challenges and prejudices that the oft-overlooked bisexual community faces. She has also used her platform to speak out on sexual violence, including testifying before Congress about her experiences.
The New York native’s initial pilot script for “Pose” was rejected 150 times before Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk jumped on board. The series has vogued its way into the zeitgeist since premiering last year on FX.
“Broad City” fans said goodbye to the queer-inclusive series this year. But before she signed off, Jacobson — who co-created and starred in the show with Ilana Glazer — revealed that she’s bisexual.
Gen Z brain trust
If you don’t know Young-White from his reliably viral tweets (he boasts well over 350,000 followers), you may know him from “The Daily Show” or his writing on Netflix comedies “American Vandal” and “Big Mouth.” Make no mistake: The 24-year-old comedian is here to stay.
“Mudbound,” Rees’ searing Sundance drama about racism in the segregated South, scored four Oscar nominations and glowing reviews. Her follow-up, “The Last Thing He Wanted,” an adaptation of a Joan Didion novel, stars Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck and will be released by Netflix. Awards watchers think it could be a major Oscar contender.
Better than Dawson
The creative force behind cult favorite “Schitt’s Creek,” Levy writes, acts and has recently directed on the sitcom. Picking up steam on Netflix after initial airings on Pop, the series promises to make the openly gay Levy an in-demand creator once its run concludes next season.
Our Lady J
Performer and producer
A classically trained concert pianist, Our Lady J was the first out trans woman to play Carnegie Hall. As a writer and producer on “Transparent” and “Pose,” she has infused the storylines about the AIDS crisis with her own experiences as a trans woman with HIV.
The “American Idol” runner-up has become one of the most successful musicians to appear on the reality-TV competition show. After opening this year’s Oscars with a medley that paid homage to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he’ll continue to tour with Queen this summer.
‘Love, Simon’ style icon
Lonsdale starred as Wally West on “The Flash,” and then a performance in the groundbreaking gay romantic comedy “Love, Simon” launched him into the spotlight. He’s made the most of it by gracing red carpets with his jaw-dropping, gender-bending fashion.
The 25-year-old actor and singer went from the “Pitch Perfect” franchise to winning a Tony for Broadway’s musical phenom “Dear Evan Hansen.” He’s currently appearing in Ryan Murphy’s first Netflix series, “The Politician,” which comes out in September, and released his debut album, “Sing to Me Instead,” in March.
He’s got the scoop
If you follow Ali on Twitter or subscribe to his weekly newsletter, you know that the HuffPost and New York magazine contributor has all the dishy scoops from the worlds of politics, media and more. But he also wields his journalist powers for good, frequently using his platform to shed a light on LGBTQ causes and milestones.
Image Courtesy of Yashar Ali