The 200 most iconic queers in cultural history, part two

The ultimate queer countdown continues with everyone from Ricky Martin and Janelle Monáe to Tinky Winky and The Babadook.

The ultimate queer countdown continues with everyone from Ricky Martin to The Babadook

Left to right: Roman bust of Antinous; Janelle Monáe; Tinky Winky. (Getty Images)

Queeries is a Digital Publishing Award-winning weekly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that queries LGBTQ art, culture and/or identity through a personal lens. This is a celebration of its 200th edition.

In honour of the 200th edition of this column, we are counting down the 200 most iconic queers in all of cultural history in an epic four-part series, of which this is but the second instalment. You can read a full explanation and see the first 50 queers on the list in last week's introduction to the madness, but a quick reminder that the list will continue to be very subjective and occasionally very silly (though it seems to be getting more earnest as it goes on).

The series will run every Thursday for the next few weeks, counting down 50 queers at a time. Without further ado, here are numbers 150 through 101.

150. Ziggy

Occupation: A boy unlike the others
Years active: The subject of the song "Un garçon pas comme les autres (Ziggy)," which originated in 1978 with a version by Luc Plamondon and Michel Berger. But Ziggy did not see his full potential until 1991, when Céline Dion covered the song on her album Dion chante Plamondon and released a truly historic accompanying music video (if you have not seen it over 100 times, you are not gay).
Why so iconic: Because in the world of the song's lyrics, Céline knows Ziggy will never love her back, but she doesn't care. The first time they met, she threw herself on him in the street and told him that she wanted him. They told each other all about their lives and he became her only friend. They laughed, they cried, they went dancing in "very, very gay places." And in the process, Ziggy made Céline the gay icon she remains today

149. The Babadook

Occupation: Top-hatted monster 
Years active: 2016–eternity
Why so iconic: Sure, the creator of the Babadook didn't intend the eponymous monster of her 2014 horror film to be gay. Sure, the first suggestion that the Babadook was gay may have started on Tumblr as a joke. And sure, the rapid memeification of the Bababook as a gay icon may be a cautionary tale about how arbitrary queer culture can be in choosing and lionizing its objects of praise. But the Babadook also serves campy Gothic nightmare eleganza so fierce that his elevation to the pantheon of gay iconography (he was the unofficial mascot of Pride 2017!) now seems inevitable. Some may look back to the film and see a queer allegory of the disturbing discontents of heteronormative parenthood, but the rest of us are simply Babashook.

148. Bob Mackie

Occupation: Fashion designer and costumer
Years active: Discovered by Edith Head (undeniably the greatest costume designer of all time) in 1961 while he was working at Paramount Studios, Mackie would go on to become one of the most prolific designers of the next 70 years (and counting).
Why so iconic: Let's just name off the icons-only list of queens Mackie was known for dressing, shall we? Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Diahann Carroll, Marlene Dietrich (who may or may not be on a later edition of this list), Judy Garland, Elton John (also may make a later appearance), Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand and, of course, Cher.

147. Chaz Bono

Occupation: Writer, musician, actor
Years active: The only child of Mackie's muse Cher and the late Sonny Bono, Chaz was born in 1969. When he came out first as a lesbian (in 1995) and then as trans (in 2009), it made international headlines, particularly because Cher was not initially very supportive. That, as we all know, has changed.
Why so iconic: For literally coming out of the most iconic gay icon of all time and then, by figuratively coming out, teaching her to be a better ally. 

146. Conchita Wurst

Occupation: Singer and drag queen
Years active: After performing out of drag in the short-lived Austrian boy band Jetzt Anders!, Conchita first appeared as herself in 2011 before rising like a phoenix to international prominence when she won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.
Why so iconic: For not only winning the gayest competition in the world, but utilizing it to become a symbol of LGBTQ rights in Europe and pissing off vilely homophobic officials in Russia, Belarus and Armenia in the process.

145. Big Freedia

Occupation: The queen of bounce
Years active: Released her first single, "Ah Ha, Oh Yeah," in 1999. She became "an overnight sensation" in part for her tireless efforts to help restore New Orleans's scene post-Hurricane Katrina.
Why so iconic: For being the undisputed queen of an entire music genre (bounce) that she played a huge role in popularizing, and of course for being brilliantly featured ("I came to slay, bitch!") in what is arguably Beyoncé's best single and then voicing the grand opening of her 2016 Formation World Tour

143. & 144. Hadrian and Antinous

Occupations: Roman emperor and his lover
Years active: Hadrian was born in January 76 (not '76, but the 76th year of our current calendar) and was Roman emperor from 117 to his death in 138. Antinous was born in the year 111 and died in 130.
Why so iconic: Because their love story is singularly epic: when Hadrian and Antinous met, the former was the Emperor of Rome and the latter was a "lowly Greek servant." They fell madly in love, and soon Hadrian was taking his boyfriend to state dinners and royal ceremonies. When Antinous mysteriously died on a journey up the Nile River, Hadrian went off, orchestrating what is perhaps history's most iconic mourning of a lover: he founded a city close to where Antinous died and named it after him; he decided Antinous would now be worshiped as a god, building temples to his memory; and he commissioned roughly two thousand statues of him, at least 100 of which survive today and can be found all over the world. (If my boyfriend is reading this, I hope he is aware I fully expect the same when I die.)

142. Rufus Wainwright

Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Years active: Began playing the piano in '79 (as in, 1979) at the age of six and by his teens was writing his own material and playing it live on the Montreal club circuit.
Why so iconic: Among many other things, he recreated Judy Garland's 1961 Carnegie Hall concert (generally considered "the greatest night in show business history") song-for-song with a 36-piece orchestra for three sold-out nights in 2006. He also has been obsessed with opera since he was a kid, which led to him writing two classical operas himself, including — wait for it — Hadrian, a four-act opera focused on the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous. 

141. Buddy Cole

Occupation: Gay socialite
Years active: Charles Butterick "Buddy'" Cole is the creation of actor and comedian Scott Thompson, and originated on sketch series The Kids in the Hall in 1990 (right here on the CBC).
Why so iconic: According to Cole's autobiography Buddy Babylon, he was the youngest of 23 children born to pig farmers in Quebec, married to a lesbian actress named Tandy, is the stepfather of conjoined twins named Suzanna and Pleshette and purchased his famed gay bar Buddy's with money he saved during a brief stint of not smoking cigarettes — all iconic facts. He also was the OG gay at the CBC, so basically I would not have this job or be writing this list without him.

140. Tinky Winky

Occupation: Teletubby
Years active: Debuted on the March 31, 1997 premiere episode of the BBC children's series Teletubbies.
Why so iconic: Because "Christian" pastor Jerry Falwell basically decided in 1999 that Tinky Winky was gay in an article for his own magazine titled "Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet." "He is purple — the gay-pride color; and his antenna (growing from the top of his head) is shaped like a triangle — the gay-pride symbol," Falwell elegantly wrote in the article, which hilariously helped turn Tinky Winky into an actual gay icon. It also helped make Falwell more of a joke than ever before, and when he died in 2007, almost every single one of his obituaries mentioned Tinky Winky. 

Tinky Winky. (BBC)

139. Cherry Jones

Occupation: Actress
Years active: Born in Paris, Tennessee in 1956, Jones began her career in theatre in 1980 as a founding member of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Why so iconic: For being the butch lesbian queen of stage and screen, whether in her Tony Award-winning performances in Doubt and The Heiress on Broadway or her Emmy Award-winning performances in 24, The Handmaid's Tale and Succession on television.

138. Patti Harrison

Occupation: Comedian, actress
Years active: Started doing stand-up in New York City in 2015 before gaining wider prominence for her appearance on The Tonight Show in 2017 about Trump's ban on transgender people in the military. 
Why so iconic: For potentially being the most hilarious person currently living on this planet — but also for getting kicked off Twitter via an incredibly audacious act of comedy performance art. After Oreo's official account tweeted "trans people exist," Harrison switched her own account to first look like she was guest-tweeting as the singer Sia on the official account of Nabisco Nilla Wafers and then as Vanessa Hudgens on Chips Ahoy's account. She was soon banned from the website, but not without offering the world some magic first:

137. Jeremy O. Harris

Occupation: Playwright, actor, philanthropist 
Years active: While studying at Yale in 2017, he wrote Slave Play, which the university produced in October of that year.
Why so iconic: For breaking the record for the most Tony Award nominations ever given to a non-musical play with Slave Play (and then losing every single one of them, his handling of which was iconic in itself); for co-writing the best film ever based on a Twitter thread; for being by far the best thing to ever happen to Emily in Paris; and, most notably, for taking a "significant portion" of the money he made from an HBO deal and collabs with the fashion industry and giving it to The New York Theater Workshop, libraries across the United States, and microgrants to the Bushwick Starr theater in New York

136. Jeremy Dutcher

Occupation: Tenor, composer, musicologist
Years active: Trained as an operatic tenor, Dutcher released his first album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, in 2018.
Why so iconic: For making a truly singular entrance: Dutcher transcribed songs in Wolastoq (an endangered language currently spoken by a few hundred people) found on hundred-year-old wax cylinders and utilized them to create a debut album in which he literally duets with his ancestral voices. The album became a significant mainstream success, winning Canada's top music prize; Dutcher used the opportunity to declare an "Indigenous Renaissance."

135. BD Wong

Occupation: Actor
Years active: Made his Broadway debut as Song Liling during the 1988 original run of M. Butterfly.
Why so iconic: For becoming the only actor in Broadway history to win a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and Theatre World Award all for the same role (his noted debut in M. Butterfly), and then using that to launch a wildly eclectic career across many stages and screens that includes everything from four Jurassic Park movies to 147 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

134. Hannah Gadsby

Occupation: Comedian, writer, actress
Years active: Became known in her native Australia when she won a national competition for new comedians in 2006. Became known to everyone in the world with a Netflix account when her special Nanette was released in 2018.
Why so iconic: For genuinely exploding into the zeitgeist and starting global conversations about gender, sexuality and power with Nanette in a way nothing else ever really has.

133. Lena Waithe

Occupation: Writer, producer, actress
Years active: Got her start as an assistant on the early 2000s sitcom Girlfriends before demanding our attention as a writer and actress in 2015 via the Netflix series Master of None.
Why so iconic: For not only writing and starring in one of the best queer-themed episodes of television, Master of None's "Thanksgiving," which she based on her own experience coming out to her mother (who is played, iconically, by Angela Bassett in the episode), but also for winning an Emmy for it and becoming the first Black woman to win for comedy series writing in the process. And also for wearing this to the MET Gala:

Lena Waithe attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

132. David Hockney

Occupation: Painter, printmaker, photographer, stage designer
Years active: Rose to prominence as an important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s.
Why so iconic: Widely considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, Hockney has been exploring queerness in his work since the early 1960s. His 1972 painting "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Fingers)" — which features a man swimming underwater as another looks down on him — sold for $90.3 million in 2018, which was at the time the highest price ever paid at an auction for a painting by a living artist. 

A woman looks at David Hockneys "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" during a press preview on September 13, 2018 at Christie's New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

131. Xena

Occupation: Warrior princess
Years active: Played by Lucy Lawless in the original TV series, Xena first appeared in the show's debut on September 4, 1995.
Why so iconic: For being a full-fledged obsession of lesbians around the world in a manner unparalleled by any other cult figure. Xena (as well as her co-warrier Gabrielle, played by Renee O'Connor) was embraced as a lesbian icon so aggressively that groups called "The Marching Xenas" participated in Pride parades all over the globe. And while the show left her sexuality somewhat ambiguous (though the subtext was extreme), Lawless herself confirmed that Xena was "definitely" gay in a 2003 interview with, of course, Lesbian News

130. Ben Whishaw

Occupation: Actor
Years active: Received huge acclaim at the age of 24 for playing the lead in a 2004 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic in London and has been consistently wonderful on screens and stages ever since. He has also hasn't shied away from his queerness onscreen or off, which cannot be said too easily about a lot of his contemporaries.
Why so iconic: Does it get any more iconic than voicing the titular character in the greatest movie of all time? (Also, stealing all the scenes from James Bond and playing one of six different Bob Dylans opposite Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger come pretty close as well.)

129. Craig Russell

Occupation: Actor, female impersonator (he disliked the label "drag queen," although he had a considerable influence on the drag that would come after him)
Years active: Became president of Mae West's fan club as a teenager in the 1960s and by the early 1970s was regularly performing impersonations of her (and many other famous ladies of the era) all around the world.
Why so iconic: The 1977 film Outrageous! — in which Russell starred as a Toronto drag queen — was a wild success and is said to have ultimately inspired the now-legendary Harvey Fierstein to not give up on a performance career, as well as inspiring the aforelisted Scott Thompson to come out as gay. Its imprint can also clearly be felt in everything from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to RuPaul's Drag Race.

128. Anohni 

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, visual artist
Years active: Started her musical career in the late 1990s performing with an ensemble of New York City musicians as Antony and the Johnsons.
Why so iconic: Pretty much everything she has done in her two decades of work qualifies, though her 2016 album Hopelessness — her first major work after coming out as trans — is an astoundingly gorgeous protest album, with a lead single that features Naomi Campbell's greatest performance in its music video:

127. Patricia Highsmith

Occupation: Author
Years active: Got her start writing for comic book publishers in the 1940s before beginning an extraordinary run as a novelist in 1950 with Strangers on a Train, which Alfred Hitchcock adapted into a film the following year.
Why so iconic: Highsmith's second book, The Price of Salt, was published in 1952 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. The book mined Highsmith's own life in its groundbreaking depiction of a lesbian love story, and she wouldn't acknowledge authorship until 1990 when the book was also retitled as Carol. Yes, that Carol— the one from the 2015 film starring Cate Blanchett, which adapted Highsmith's book and became the greatest thing to happen to lesbian culture since Xena: Warrior Princess. (Notably, Highsmith also wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was adapted into the 1999 Anthony Minghella film that was the greatest thing to ever happen to Jude Law culture.)

126. Janelle Monáe

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, actress
Years active: Began her music career when she was featured on OutKast's 2006 album Idlewild and made her film acting debut in 2016 when Moonlight and Hidden Figures were released within a few months of each other.
Why so iconic: Having your first two films both get nominated for best picture Oscars in the same year (with one of them winning) is pretty iconic. So is releasing a music video that is one big celebration of vaginas the same week you come out as queer:

125. Graham Norton

Occupation: Actor, comedian, talk show host
Years active: First got major notice in 1992 when he performed a stand-up comedy drag act as a tea-towel-clad Mother Teresa at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which got press because — no joke — Scottish Television's religious affairs department mistakenly thought he was Mother Teresa.
Why so iconic: For hosting the best English language talk show in the world since 2007, and making it very clear more gay men need to be hosting talk shows. (Why do we have Jimmy Fallon and James Corden when we could be having, say, Nathan Lane and Billy Porter?)

124. Beverly Glenn-Copeland

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, actor, activist
Years active: Born in Philadelphia, Glenn-Copeland went to Canada to study classical music at McGill University in the 1960s (where he was the only Black student in the entire program), which led to him representing his newly adopted country at Expo '67 by performing German lieder singing. In 1970, he released his folk-jazz infused debut album.
Why so iconic: Let Stephen Jackman-Torkoff explain why in this beautiful tribute from CBC Arts's 2019 project Superqueeroes, which celebrated Glenn-Copeland as one of Canada's greatest queer icons:

123. Lorraine Hansberry

Occupation: Playwright
Years active: Got her start on the staff of the Black newspaper Freedom in 1951, which led collaborations with various other Black artists, including playwright Alice Childress. She died of pancreatic cancer at the tragic age of 34 in 1965.
Why so iconic: Became the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway when her A Raisin in the Sun opened on March 11, 1959. It would win her the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play, making her the first Black person and youngest playwright of any race to ever do so (she was 29 at the time). Nina Simone's 1969 song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is written in memory of Hansberry.

122. Michaela Jaé Rodriguez

Occupation: Actress, singer
Years active: Was cast as Angel in an off Broadway revival of Rent in 2011 before getting small television roles in shows like Nurse Jackie and Luke Cage. In the latter, her role of "Sister Boy" technically marked the first appearance of both a transgender actress and character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Why so iconic: Her three-season run as Blanca Evangelista on the series Pose — set in the underground ballroom scene of 1980s New York City — was a breakout, starring role that catapulted Rodriguez to stardom, breaking down so many doors for trans representation in the process. She ended the run by becoming the first trangender woman to get an Emmy nomination in a major acting category and the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe in the history of the awards. 

117. to 121. Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Octavia St. Laurent, Angie Xtravaganza and Venus Xtravaganza

Occupations: Ball performers and five of the many iconic subjects of the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning
Years active: Corey started performing as a snake dancer in a cabaret drag act in the 1960s; LaBeija took over as the head of the House of LaBeija in 1981 and remained the house's mother for 20 years; St. Laurent began walking the balls in 1982; Angie Xtravaganza founded the House of Xtravaganza in 1982, which her "daughter" Venus joined in 1983. All five of them have passed away.
Why so iconic: For being absolute powerhouses in an underground ball world that has had endless influence on so much that came after it, from Madonna to Pose to Drag Race. That their stories can live on for future generations to witness via Paris is Burning is a very necessary gift.

116. Michael Stipe

Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Years active: Co-founded the band R.E.M. in 1980 as its lead singer. They released their first album, Murmur, three years later and have since old more than 90 million albums worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.
Why so iconic: Besides being openly queer since the '90s and the lead singer of one of the best-selling bands of all time, for writing both the most iconic apocalypse anthem and the most iconically sad pop song of all time.

115. Chiron

Occupation: Protagonist of Moonlight
Years active: Born via Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue and the 2016 Barry Jenkins film that adapted it. The film divides the character into three acts: "Little" (where he's played by Alex Hibbert), "Chiron" (Ashton Sanders) and "Black" (Trevante Rhodes).
Why so iconic: For being the first LGBTQ protagonist of a film to win the best picture Oscar (even if for a few wild moments people thought the award went to La La Land).

Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes as Chiron at different ages in Moonlight. (A24)


Occupation: Singer, music producer, DJ
Years active: Released her first single "Nothing More To Say" in 2013, initially choosing to remain anonymous and concealing their identity through voice-masking. She came out as trans in 2017, releasing the video for "It's Okay to Cry" around the same time — the first time their actual voice and image were used in her solo work. Tragically, she died in January 2021 after accidentally falling from a balcony in Athens, Greece.
Why so iconic: Truly a visionary in her 34 years on this planet, SOPHIE set a very high bar for originality in avant-garde pop. The aforementioned "It's Okay To Cry" is a pretty staggering example:

113. Coccinelle

Occupation: Actress, singer, author
Years active: Born in Paris in 1931, Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy (known better by her stage name Coccinelle, which is French for "ladybird") made her show business debut performing as a showgirl in 1953 at Chez Madame Arthur, where her mother worked as a flower seller. In 1958, she travelled to Casablanca to undergo a vaginoplasty, and became a media sensation around the world shortly thereafter.
Why so iconic: Coccinelle was the first French trans woman to become a full-fledged star, and she used that stardom to advance the well-being of other trans people. She founded the organization Devenir Femme (which translates to "To Become Woman"), which was created to provide practical support to those seeking gender reassignment surgery, and helped establish the Center for Aid, Research, and Information for Transsexuality and Gender Identity. 

French actress and entertainer Coccinelle in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1965. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

112. Sylvester

Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Years active: Developed a love for singing through the gospel choir of his childhood church in the 1960s, but was forced to leave because of their disapproval of his being gay. So in 1970, he moved to San Francisco at the age of 22 and joined the avant-garde drag troup The Cockettes.
Why so iconic: There has never been anyone like Sylvester. By the late 1970s, he was known as the "Queen of Disco," but he was also doing something radical with both his gender and queerness and pushing it into the mainstream. Like too many of his generation, we lost Sylvester way too soon when he passed from AIDS-related complications in 1988, at the age of 41.

111. Tab Hunter

Occupation: Actor, author
Years active: After being discovered by an agent specializing in male "beefcake stars," he got his first lead role in the 1952 romantic adventure film Island of Desire, where he is largely shirtless on a tropical island the entire time.
Why so iconic: Known for his blond, clean-cut looks, Hunter was the Hollywood heartthrob of the 1950s and 1960s, and it's easy to see why. Like many of the hottest actors of his generation, Hunter was forced to stay in the closet. But unlike most of the others, Hunter also got a chance to come out of it on his own terms when he wrote his best-selling 2005 autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, which was adapted into a documentary.

110. Sheryl Swoopes

Occupation: Basketball player
Years active: Won the NCAA women's basketball championship during her senior season with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders in 1993.
Why so iconic: She's the GOAT of women's basketball — the first player signed to the WNBA, a three-time league MVP and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. She was also one of the highest-profile athletes to ever come out when she did so in 2005.

109. Wanda Sykes

Occupation: Comedian, actress, writer
Years active: Began her stand-up career in 1987 at a Coors Light Super Talent Showcase in Washington, DC, where she performed for the first time in front of a live audience.
Why so iconic: For becoming both the first Black woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to ever host the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, and for killing it:

108. Ricky Martin

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, actor
Years active: Broke out at the age of 12 when he became a member of the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo in 1984. Came out at the age of 39 when he told People magazine he is a "fortunate homosexual man."
Why so iconic: For having us all so fooled for so long! But seriously, Martin — who need I remind you was the biggest pop star in the world by the late 1990s — walked so that so many of us could run as fortunately and homosexually as we want.

107. Troye Sivan

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, actor
Years active: Broke out at the age of 12 when he made it to the grand finals of Australia's StarSearch in 2007. Came out at the of age of 18 when he announced on YouTube that ever since he was born he "always knew something was a little bit different about me."
Why so iconic: For giving us the pop anthem about bottoming that Ricky Martin could have only dreamed of releasing:

105. & 106. C-3PO and R2-D2

Occupation: Protocol droid (C-3PO) and astromech droid (R2-D2)
Years active: Both introduced in the original 1977 Star Wars, they jointly appear in more of the 11 movies that follow than any other characters (with the exception of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which barely exists anyway).
Why so iconic: An aging twink droid in a crop top and the old queen who constantly shades him, C-3PO and R2-D2 are by far the most iconic robot couple in pop culture history.

C3PO and R2D2. (Lucasfilm/Disney)

104. Tracy Chapman

Occupation: Singer and songwriter
Years active: Released her self-titled debut album in 1988, which went multi-platinum and earned Chapman the Grammy for best new artist.
Why so iconic: Because nearly 35 years after it was released, at any given moment since someone in this world is driving around crying while listening to this:

103. Udo Kier

Occupation: Actor
Years active: Born in Germany in 1944, Kier got his start when he was cast in the lead of the 1966 film Road to St. Tropez. He has been remarkably prolific ever since.
Why so iconic: A muse of all of the most iconic three-name filmmakers to have ever lived (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Gus Van Sant, Lars von Trier), Kier has appeared in over 200 films ranging from Dancer in the Dark to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, not to mention several Madonna music videos

102. Vito Russo

Occupation: Author, activist, historian
Years active: Became known in the 1970s when he traveled across the world presenting The Celluloid Closet, a live lecture presentation with film clips that related to the history of queer representation in the movies.
Why so iconic: The Celluloid Closet would be an invaluable book and documentary, the latter of which sadly came out a few years after Russo died from AIDS-related complications. In 2013, GLAAD named the "Vito Russo test" after him, which is a set of criteria intended to analyze the representation of LGBTQ characters in movies.

101. Cruella de Vil

Occupation: Fashion designer
Years active: First appeared in British author Dodie Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmations, which was adapted into the 1961 animated Disney film. Finally got her own movie last year when Emma Stone played her in Cruella. Like most queers, she's horrible at driving and knows how to make a grand entrance. 
Why so iconic: For being the lipstick power lesbian of our childhood nightmares.

Continue on to numbers 100-51 on this subjective and excessive list of the 200 most iconic queers in cultural history. And check out the first part here.


Peter Knegt (he/him) has worked for CBC Arts since 2016, writing the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the 2019 Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada and nominated again this year) and spearheading the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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