Gay Icons: 25 Divas Who Have Been Embraced by Gay Culture

From torch songs to club bangers to advocacy to empowerment to glamor that’s out of this world, great divas have affected the gay community in any number of ways ever since Judy Garland sang about somewhere over the rainbow. A term was coined for those divas who have an impact on the gay community through entertainment and advocacy. Thus the „gay icon“ was born.

A gay icon is a celebrity or public figure who is embraced by the gay community. To reach gay icon status, one has to be able to relate to us through flamboyance, strength, triumph over adversity, glamor and even androgyny. Divas with powerhouse voices, gay anthems, over-the-top personalities and an unapologetic and unforgettable approach to fashion that would inspire envy in a drag queen are likely to become gay icons.

Sorry, Sir Elton John, Freddie Mercury, George Michael and Adam Lambert, but with Women’s History Month coming to a close soon, this blog post celebrates the female divas who hold bigger special places in our gay hearts than our very own fag hags. Below are 25 of the many divas who have left their marks on gay men and gay culture.

‚La!‘ The Queer Code In It’s A Sin And The Story Behind It

The notifications on my phone were spilling over with the same comment from all my queer friends after they watched Russell T Davies’ new show, It’s A Sin. Some I hadn’t heard from in nearly a decade. They sent just one word: “La!”

It needed no explanation. The central group of gay men who feature in Channel 4′s landmark drama about the 1980s AIDS pandemic say it to one another as they go to work in the mornings and arrive home in the evenings. They say it before they go out to parties and when they return in the middle of the night with new queer allies. In episode one, Olly Alexander’s Ritchie gets all dragged up to sing the single note to a roomful of people.

Fun, cosy and camp, it epitomises the way queer circles have used coded language, both historically – for protection from bigoted groups – and in more modern and accepting times as a sign of self-identification, solidarity and fun.

“They’re like memes, aren’t they really. Maybe they’re the precursor of the online meme”

“They’re like memes, aren’t they really. Maybe they’re like the precursor of the online meme,” Princess Julia, DJ, writer and fashion icon who was on the scene in the 1980s and still is today, tells HuffPost UK.

“If you’re in a little gang definitely there’s mannerisms and things that you pick up off each other. It’s in friendship groups. Maybe that’s part of Russell’s story.”

It was indeed: speaking on It’s A Sin’s companion show After Hours, the Queer As Folk and Doctor Who writer said: “I did that as a little camp kid in Swansea… Me and my gang of mates, when we were teenagers we all belonged to the same youth theatre and that was one of our jokes.

“There was some people out there who I haven’t seen for years who might watch this and go, ‘I used to do that, I used to go, “La”.’ How they explain that to their wives, I would love to know.”

'La!' The Queer Code In It's A Sin And The Story Behind It

Huffington-Post-Ableger „Gay Voices“: Mehr als nur Cha Cha Cha

Die „Huffington Post“ startet „Gay Voices“ als einen von mehreren Special-Interest-Ablegern – nicht zuletzt für mehr Leserbindung und bessere Anzeigenvermarktung.

Zielgruppendiversifkation deluxe: Startseite von „Gay Voices“. Bild: screenshot

Das erste Tänzchen von Chers transsexuellem Sohn Chaz Bono bei der amerikanischen Ausgabe von „Let’s Dance“, die heißesten lesbischen Liebesszenen in Hollywood-Filmen oder der schwule Soldat, der nach dem Ende von „Don’t ask don’t tell“ endlich stolz in Uniform zum Homo-Treffen geht. Wer liest, liest sie alle. Die homosexuellen und die transsexuellen Stimmen, die politischen und die populären.

Anfang des Monats verkündete HuffPost-Gründerin Arianna Huffington den Launch ihres Special-Interest-Ablegers. Kein ganz neues Themengebiet für die Macher der Seite, die schon immer über die politischen Fortschritte wie Rückschläge in Bezug auf die Gleichstellung von Homosexuellen in den USA berichtet hat. Und so soll „Gay Voices“ es den Lesern erleichtern, alle Artikel und Blogs zum Thema „zu finden, zu teilen und zu diskutieren“, wie Huffington schreibt.

Die Special-Interest-Idee ist nicht ganz neu. Man kennt das von Frauenmagazinen, die mit diversen Ablegern für enger gefasste Zielgruppen versuchen, Anzeigenkunden besser zu bedienen. Und auch die „Gay Voices“ will natürlich nicht nur Advokat für den Kampf um Gleichstellung sein, auch wenn Redakteur Noah Michelsen in seinem Editorial zu Recht anmerkt, dass die „Gay Voices“ eine Berechtigung hat, so lange Schwule und Lesben diskriminiert, traumatisiert und zu Opfern gemacht werden. „Niemand sollte behaupten, dass wir in einer ‚post-homosexuellen‘ Ära leben.“

Unerwähnt bleibt neben der gezielten Leserbindung und der Schärfung des linken Profils der HuffPost die Chance, auf der „Gay Voices“ ebenso gezielt die Bindung des Users zu erhöhen. Nach eigenen Angaben hat die Huffington Post im vergangenen Monat erstmals mehr als eine Millarde Seitenzugriffe gehabt, damit gehört sie zu den beliebtesten und einflussreichsten Seiten in den USA. Mehr als fünf Millionen Kommentare hinterließen die Besucher.


Mardi Gras 2021 Parade: Best Floats And Outfits As Rita Ora, RuPaul’s Drag Race Take Centre Stage

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade changed locations from Oxford Street to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) this year, but it was still bursting with more colour, glitter, pride and passion than ever on Saturday night.

Tens of thousands of locals turned out to watch community groups take centre stage in the stadium on various floats, as well as celebrity performances from the likes of Montaigne, Sneaky Sound System, G Flip and Electric Fields, plus the RuPaul’s Drag Race cast reveal.

Ben Graetz delivered a Welcome to Country to open the official proceedings which featured John Leha and singer/songwriter Scott Hunter, as well as Koomurri dancers, NAISDA dancers and Buuja Butterfly dancers.

Mardi Gras 2021 Parade: Best Floats And Outfits As Rita Ora, RuPaul's Drag Race Take Centre Stage

What Is The Expanded LGBT Acronym? And What Does It Stand For?

Most people know the ’90s acronym LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, but over the years those four letters have expanded to become more inclusive.

The acronym now includes 12 characters which represent 11 different groups in the community.

While LGBT is still a popular term used to describe the queer community, it has grown to LGBTQQIP2SAA.

In the video above, we explain each of the groups represented in the longer acronym. Who are 2S? Watch the video above to find out.

What Is The Expanded LGBT Acronym? And What Does It Stand For?

Russell T Davies On Creating It’s A Sin: ‘Oh God, It’s Hard To Watch, I Know’

Queer historian Dr Justin Bengry, who convenes the MA in Queer History at Goldsmiths, says the use of queer coded language has always been “critically important” for LGBTQ+ people.

“Queer people have long used coded language to speak to one another discreetly, avoid detection where they might be unsafe, and to identify others like themselves,” he says, explaining that in the 19th century and into the middle of the 20ths, the dominant queer language was Polari, “made up of a combination of backwards talk, theatre and underworld slangs.”

While these days that sort of explicit separation of language isn’t necessary in many Western societies, queer language still pervades, Dr Bengry says. ″Today, queer people still play with language, with irreverence and fun, to celebrate our communities, and while many of us need not worry actively about our safety, many must still rely on code, doublespeak, and slang to remain safe.”

Roy Brown, a model and musician, remembers hearing Polari being used by older LGBTQ+ people when he was “fresh on the scene” in the mid-80s.

“I used to hear my contemporaries say ‘purp mom,’ which I think [meant] ‘Hello darling,” I understand. And lines like ‘nah da to varda in the larder,’ which either means no food in the fridge, or the person you’re cruising has nothing going on. ‘Bona lallies’ means great pair of legs and ‘pumping Irenie’ means fit body.”

Brown reflects with hindsight on the significance of this “almost underground” language – “a form of communication between groups of gay men and the few women who were privy in those circles to have a conversation without being busted for being gay!” he says. “Especially if the conversation was more intimate, like hooking up with one another outside of your own environment.”

But Polari, like all languages, evolved, and began to morph into the fun, sassy turns of phrase used by queer groups today. “By the 1980s such secrecy was no longer necessary,” says Mark Wardel, a prominent artist from the period, who designed masks of David Bowie that have featured at the V&A.

“Everyone was referred to as ‘she’ whether male or female, no matter how ‘butch’ they thought they were.”

“One quirk of the scene was that everyone was referred to as ‘she’ whether male or female, no matter how ‘butch’ they thought they were,” says Wardel. “The use of ‘she’ and female names for men was widespread in the show business world with the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart calling each other Sharon and Phyllis.”

Professor William Leap from the American University, Washington, says of “La!′ that he “wouldn’t call it coded” because queer language has advanced to the point where its primary function is no longer about being secretive. “It doesn’t need to be coded to be effective. If it were coded, it would draw undue attention to itself – like Polari does, and would make obvious the fact of attempted secrecy,” he explains.

“But by being obvious, that is discrete. It can be simply a hello/goodbye comment to everyone in the room. It can also express additional meaning to those who understand the rest of the discretionary message,” says Leap.

Which is all to say that queer people are the kings and queens of having more than one meaning for a word and gender swapping remains a prominent in-joke among queer circles today – including mine. Davies’ use of “La!” in It’s A Sin is a delightful way of introducing the idea of cheeky coded language to non-queer audiences – and it lets them in on our joke.

How Sydney’s Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras Will Look Different In 2021

After that the Dykes on Bikes performed a lap to signal the start of the parade led with the First Nations and 78ers floats.

“We usually have 150 to 200 bikes for the parade,” said Dykes on Bikes president Emily Saunders, explaining the coronavirus pandemic has affected participation. “This year we have 68 bikes.”

The First Nations float had a strong message for spectators, paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement as it paraded in the stadium.

“Black lives still matter,” said Jack Williams who was part of the float.

“It’s an ongoing fight and we’re here and ready to continue to fight for our people. The costumes we’re wearing this year, it’s to give away the look of a military vibe because we’re fighting against police brutality and the murders in custody of Black people.

“Our key messages this year for our float are fighting against deaths in custody, we’re fighting for our brother boys and sister girls and we’re fighting for a positive community.”

Other organisations that had floats included SWOP (which supports sex workers and community), Colour of our Community and Neurodiversity Rainbow, while Tik Tok, NRL, L’Oreal Australia, NSW Police and Taronga Conservation Society Australia also joined the parade with floats.

Australian singer Troye Sivan joined radio presenter Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little on the 2Day FM float.

In its 43rd year, the Mardi Gras celebrations were moved to the SCG due to COVID-19.

“The 2021 Parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times,” said Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger.

Kruger said ahead of the event that Oxford Street remains the “spiritual home” of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, but the new location allows physical distancing and contract tracing requirements to be met.

i love this queen so much! Thank u for supporting us lgbtq+ people here!! ?️‍?❤️??? @RitaOra

The theme for 2021 is ‘Rise’, a timely one given the challenges of this year, calling for people to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding.

“With a greater focus on community, our 2021 Parade will move away from large floats, centring instead on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witness,” said Kruger.

With the event broadcast on TV for those who couldn’t attend in person, this year’s SBS hosts were drag queen Joel Creasey and Zoë Coombs Marr.

Liberal Positioning

Howard Kurtz wrote that HuffPost caters to a “very liberal constituency” and “has morphed from a left-leaning site with a modest conservative presence to a pugnaciously liberal operation in which the banner headlines and majority of bloggers holler about the latest outrage.” [59]

In 2016 Huffington Post Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen pronounced, “The DNA of The Huffington Post is fundamentally progressive.” [60] Meanwhile, HuffPost CEO Jared Grusd described the site as “‘the world’s premier progressive media platform,’ and urged staff members to sharpen their voice.”[61]

Huffington Post has openly taken sides in political debates that they were expected to cover, separating itself from traditional legacy news organizations, which generally accept that news divisions should not explicitly advocate for political causes. [62] According to founder Arianna Huffington, HuffPost sees its “role more as doing everything we can to ferret out the truth” and the website stakes out “a position akin to a policy position” on issues using this logic.[63]

For example, in 2012, the Huffington Post disallowed its science senior editor to even raise the question of whether NASA was pushing “unsettled science” concerning global warming. According to Nieman Labs reporting, “within the editorial confines of Huffington Post, issues like climate change and evolution are settled” and Huffington Post added an editor’s note that “removed the question because Huffington Post is not agnostic on the matter.” [64]

In 2013, The Huffington Post made its support of gay marriage official, the website openly voiced its support for recognizing gay marriage, and changed its social media avatar to a rainbow in solidarity with the gay marriage movement. [65]

From January 2016 [66] through November 2016,[67] the Huffington Post included an editor’s note on the bottom of all articles relating to Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump attacking him. The note read: “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”[68] The Huffington Post has published radical articles, which have gone as far as to “call for the prosecution and execution of the president [Donald Trump].”[69]


HuffPost (until 2017, The Huffington Post [1]) is a left-leaning news aggregation website[2] founded in 2005 by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, Jonah Peretti, and the late Andrew Breitbart.[3] The website capitalized on an army of left-of center unpaid bloggers, and early adoption of search-engine optimization techniques, and the rise of social media to become one of the most trafficked websites on the Internet.[4]

The organization, which was purchased by AOL in 2011 [5] and led by Arianna Huffington until 2016, [6] has come under fire for a number of ethically questionable practices. HuffPost has been accused of republishing other journalists’ work,[7] over-relying on unpaid contributors,[8] suppressing legitimate journalism,[9] fostering a lack of diversity among upper staff,[10] and maintaining a toxic work environment.[11]

HuffPost caters to a “very liberal constituency” and “has morphed from a left-leaning site with a modest conservative presence to a pugnaciously liberal operation in which the banner headlines and majority of bloggers holler about the latest outrage.” [12]

The website, which was created as the antithesis of the Drudge Report, [13] separates itself from some traditional news organizations by openly taking liberal stances on current political debates[14] such as the war in Iraq,[15] climate change,[16] and gay marriage.[17] During the 2016 presidential campaign, HuffPost included a note attacking the Republican candidate at the end of each article about Donald Trump.[18]

Über 30 Millionen Leser

Über die HuffPost-Erlöse wird eher geschwiegen, man habe im vergangenen Jahr erstmals Gewinn gemacht, heißt es lediglich. Doch die Möglichkeiten der Seite, die ihre Inhalte vielfach auch von anderen Nachrichtenkanälen generiert, waren AOL im April den Kaufpreis von 315 Millionen Dollar wert. Die geschätzten 30 Millionen Besucher pro Monat – im September sollen es sogar mehr als 37 Millionen gewesen sein – verheißen Millionen mögliche Einnahmen durch Anzeigen.

Und so verkündete die immer noch über den Inhalt wachende Huffington nicht nur den Launch der „Gay Voices“, sondern gleich einen „Grand Slam an neuen Seiten“. Neben den Homo-, Bi- und Transsexuellen sollen sich künftig auch Teenager, frisch Vermählte und die Generation der Baby Boomers besonders angesprochen fühlen. Huff/post50Huffpost High School und Huffpost Weddings („Kleider! Kuchen! Brautjungfern! Erste Tänze!“) heißen die Ableger, die Autoren, Blogger und User künftig bespielen sollen.

Es stellt sich das Facebook-Gefühl ein: Lerne Deine Nutzer bestmöglich kennen, um sie anschließend gewinnbringend zu vermarkten – nur ohne Anmeldung und Like-Button. Dafür mit journalistischer Ausrichtung und einem Pool an Autoren und Bloggern, die etwas zu sagen haben.

Denn, das sei bei aller Geschäftstüchtigkeit der „Huffington Post Media“ gesagt: Die Geschichte von Chaz Bono geht weit über die Bewertung seiner Cha-Cha-Cha-Leistung hinaus. Es ist vielmehr eine ernsthafte Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema Transsexualität und der Schwierigkeit, diese in der Gesellschaft offen zu leben.

Gerne als Leser*innenkommentar unter dem Text auf oder über das Kontaktformular.