Common and uncommon gay American icons

Common and uncommon gay American icons

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Lewis and Clark, secret icons of the gay community. (Flickr/Heather M)
In 1997, CNN reported the following phenomenon in from London: “The Teletubbies…have a following among the gay community. Tinky Winky, who carts around a red handbag but speaks with a male voice, has become something of a gay icon.”

The hubbub roared on far past those mild statements, as religious leaders like Reverend Jerry Falwell spoke out against the “role modelling [of] the gay lifestyle [which] is damaging to the moral lives of children.”

But there are many other gay icons that have gotten far less publicity, like Jan Brady, Amelia Earhart and even Lewis and Clark. Writer and performer Rob Anderson explained his favorites at a special Paper Machete performance and says “it just keeps getting better.” Read an excerpt below or listen above:

America’s getting gayer and gayer. If you told the queens at the Stonewall riots that there would be a big gay Oreo on their Facebook newsfeeds, they wouldn’t have believed it. Well they actually wouldn’t understand what that meant, but that’s not the point. As we submerse ourselves into an American culture that celebrates same-sex love, booty shorts and deals on craft supplies from Michael’s, we can be thankful for those who have been such a pillar of strength in the American LGBT community. Some of these sources of support are very local, such as a parent or close friend and other signs of support come from broad places and touch and inspire many gay men and women, sometimes without even realizing it. These figures are gay American icons.

Gay American icons stand in the spotlight, maybe known for their art like Andy Warhol, possibly famous for their music like Cher, film work like Judy Garland, or their commitment to activism and gay causes, like Heidi Montag. Some may not know they are gay icons or and some didn’t have the intention of being responsible for a drag queen’s rise to the top, but they were. Before we celebrate with two bottles of Skinny Girl and blast En Vouge from our Mini Coopers, we need to take some time to appreciate and respect some of the most influential and prominent gay American icons.

The Paper Machete is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It’s always at 3 p.m., it’s always on Saturday, and it’s always free. Get all your The Paper Machete Radio Magazine needs filled here, or download the podcast from iTunes here.