These Media & Culture Stars are Pioneers for LGBTQ Equality

by HRC Staff

To cap off LGBTQ History Month month, we are reflecting on the films, artists, writers and others in the arts who have greatly influenced the LGBTQ movement.

Post submitted by Prianka Srinivasan, former Content Producer  

To mark LGBTQ History Month, HRC released a series of blog posts that pay homage to the diversity and breadth of our community.

To cap off the month, we are reflecting on the films, artists, writers and others in the arts who have greatly influenced the LGBTQ movement. Their ability to use creativity to reimagine our struggles and our successes has not only fueled the fight for equality, but has also helped the world better understand the day-to-day realities of LGBTQ people.

These works of art and the people behind them inspire us to fight harder, reach higher and make sure no member of the LGBTQ community is left behind.

  • “Moonlight” (film): The 2016 film tells a moving story of a Black gay man growing up in Miami. It won Best Picture-Drama at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, becoming the first LGBTQ film and the first film with an all-black cast to take home the honor.

  • Ellen DeGeneres (talk-show host & comedian): From speaking out against anti-LGBTQ hate violence, to publicly coming out on her TV show in 1996, DeGeneres has, and continues to be, an integral voice in the equality movement.

  • “Will & Grace” (TV show): The sitcom is not only a staple of LGBTQ culture, but has helped change hearts and minds around the globe since it first aired in the fall of 1998.

  • “Orange is the New Black” (TV show): Themes about class, race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity permeate Netflix’s breakout hit. Its success is driven by its nuanced reflection on gender identity and LGBTQ issues. HRC was proud to award “Orange is the New Black” actresses Samira Wiley with the Visibility Award in 2015, Asia Kate Dillon with the HRC Visibility Award in 2015, and Uzo Aduba with the 2017 HRC Ally for Equality Award.
  • “Fire” (film): Deepa Mehta’s Canadian-Indian film explores the love between two women who come together as their arranged marriages to men disintegrate. As one of the first Bollywood films to portray a same-sex relationship on-screen, the film was monumental in shaping the lives and attitudes of LGBTQ people in India.
  • Maya Angelou (author): Angelou was a longtime friend to the LGBTQ community and to HRC. In 1998, Angelou spoke at HRC’s second annual National Dinner. Her books, poems, speeches and essays have long been a source of inspiration for LGBTQ people and for all seeking a more open, more hopeful and more just world.

  • James Baldwin (writer): The writer and activist’s words serve as powerful reminders of the intersections of racism and anti-LGBTQ sentiment, and the need for us, as advocates and as an LGBTQ community, to account for those intersections in our work.
  • I Am Jazz, by Jazz Jennings (book): HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings has become a visible face and advocate for transgender youth. Her children’s picture book I Am Jazz, was released in September 2016 and tells the story of her life as a transgender girl.

  • Love Wins, by Jim Obergefell (book): Obergefell, a longtime HRC member, earned his spot in the history books after becoming the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States case that brought nationwide marriage equality on June 26, 2015. Following the ruling, Obergefell took another courageous step and shared his personal journey in the book Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality.
  • “Transparent” (TV show): Jill Soloway’s hit Amazon series has won multiple awards for its touching portrayal of a transgender mother. The show’s star, Jeffrey Tambor, won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2015, and that same year “Transparent” became the first online show to win the Golden Globe for Best TV Show, Comedy or Musical. Other HRC supporters in the show include Bradley Whitford, Judith Light, Alexandra Billings, Kathryn Hahn and Amy Landecker.
  • Lena Waithe (actor & writer): This year, lesbian actor and writer Waithe made history as the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing for her work on a powerful “Master of None” episode on coming out in which she also starred.