For decades, people part of the LGBTQ+ community have fought for equal rights and equal representation throughout the world. Creative artists like Freddie Mercury, Andy Warhol, Janelle Monae, Jonathan Larson, Ellen DeGeneres, Lee Daniels and many more have showcased their talent to the world and helped to inspire others within the LGBTQ+ community.
Compared even to when I was a kid, there is more diversity on the big screen and within the music industry today than ever before. However, some artists can fall through the cracks and are not talked about enough. So here are, in my opinion, the top five LGBTQ+ people within the entertainment and music industry today.
Jamie Babbit: “But I’m A Cheerleader” is such a underrated and great movie gem. Stephen Cone: “Princess Cyd” was one of the best movies that I saw last year; a film about a teenage girl who explores who she is, this coming of age story is different from most movies with its theme. Josh Thomas: “Please Like Me” is one of my favorite shows on Hulu right now; this series showcases mental health, sexuality and gender in a dark yet funny light.
5: Justin Simien – Filmmaker
Simien is the creator of the film and Netflix show “Dear White People.” While this show has its flaws, it’s one of the best things on Netflix today. It follows the lives of a group of African American students with different personalities, genders, sexualities and backgrounds. The show touches on racial tension, police brutality and stereotypes and perceptions that African Americans, like myself, deal with on a daily basis. The writing is incredible, ranging from funny and light to dark and serious. It changes beat-to-beat, creating unexpected twists and turns each episode.
4: Precolumbian (Dj Chaska Sophia) – Musician
For people who are scratching their heads and wondering who the heck Precolumbian is, let me introduce you to her: Precolumbian is an Peruvian genderqueer electric musician who has made a name for herself within the Philadelphian music scene. Her music draws from her roots and combines modern and classical electric/latin into this beautiful and lively arrangement of music. If you are ever in the Philadelphia area then you have to see her perform live at a house show.
3: Mika – Musician
I won’t try to lie, until this year I had never heard of Mika. However, now he is one of my recent artists. Mika is a Lebanese-born English pop singer. His music hits you in the face like Muhammad Ail in the boxing ring. It is vibrant, jubilant and captivating with each of his songs and albums that you listen to. He is unapologetically his true self and doesn’t care what anyone has to say about his music or sexual orientation. His confidences can be heard in his music and interviews that he has done. “Lola,” “Emily,” “Grace Kelly,” “Talk about You ”and “Popular Song” are just some of the songs that he is known for. His first two albums, “Life in Cartoon Motion” and “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” were number one in European music charts. His later albums also reached the top five in multiple countries as well.
2: Frank Ocean – Musician
Man, it takes a long time for Frank Ocean to release an album. While that is the case, there’s no denying that the wait is always worth it in the end. Regardless of race, gender or sexuality, Frank Ocean is one of the best musicians alive today. His two albums, “Channel Orange” and “Blonde,” debuted at number two and number one on respectively on music charts around the world. Songs like “Thinkin Bout You,” “White Ferrari,” “Sweet Life,” “Ivy” and much more help to demonstrate his vocal range, creative mind and whimsical thoughts. Frank Ocean helped to resuscitate R&B music, which was on life support before he came into the music scene. At just the age of 31, Ocean has many more years to make music that will last for a lifetime.
1: Desiree Akhavan – Filmmaker
Akhavan is one of the best storytellers within the entertainment industry today. Her Hulu show “The Bisexual” was the best show that I saw last year. It tells the story of a woman in New York City who is questioning her sexuality after being in a long term committed relationship with a woman. The show is brilliant. Each character in the show is fleshed out and makes you truly connect with them and the storylines being told as a whole. It makes you die from laughter while feeling emotional and heartbroken for Leila and Sadie. The show helps to illustrate the questions that every LGBTQ+ person faces when they are questioning their own sexuality. It also highlights feminism, white privilege, what it is like being a person of color woman today and other ranging topics. Along with “The Bisexual,” Akhavan made a film last year called “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. The film, which stars Chloë Grace Moretz, is about a teenage girl who is forced into a gay conversion center in the ’90s. The film helped to shine a light on the horror these type of camps subjected LGBTQ+ children to and why they should never be legal.
Creative artists like these help future generations of musicians, filmmakers and society as a whole to see someone who has faced the same challenges, struggles and celebrations in life as them. Many people are afraid of coming out. They fear how their family, friends and the world will look at them. However, as more and more people come out of the closet, it makes it easier for the people afraid to see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize that there is a community of people who will support them. Representation matters as it helps to promote positive changes in cultures and can help to make a better world for future LGBTQ+ people.
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