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Article written by Maya Vukovska

Sometimes people wonder how is it that I can spot a gay guy in a crowd of hundred. ‘Because I’m blessed with a gaydar, version 2.0, honey’ is my usual answer. It’s even easier to guess someone is queer when you start a conversation on music and movies, or step into his room. The full Sex and the City DVD collection, copies of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and 1961’s Judy in Carnegie Hall , and a poster of Madonna as a “virgin”, with a white bustier and a “Boy Toy” belt speak more than a pair of sequin shorts and an evening robe á la Madame de Pompadour. Each self-respecting gay man nurtures a fetish for a certain celebrity woman or a man - a diva who has overcome the odds and stood tall in the face of the conventional wisdom. Not all gay men share the same list of iconic singers and actors, but, of course, there are certain icons who are and have always been of quintessential status. Liza Minelli, Bette Midler, Cher, George Michael, Barbra Streisand, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury just to name a few…
Times are changing, though, and some new and fresh faces have started to sub for the old ones. The shift in the characteristics of what makes a gay icon is illustrative of the shift in the thinking and attitude of gay people. No longer do they need to prove to themselves and the world they are worthy people with valuable qualities. The tables have turned, and now the gay icons are recognized as such because they’ll speak openly not only about their own sexual orientation, but also about any other sensitive topic.

Here is our list of the most unexpected gay icons there are now.

Rufus Wainwright

He is an art teacher, a singer, and the former Artistic Director of the Toronto’s Luminato Festival. What the gay community particularly likes about him (beside his beautiful songs Out of the Game, Going to a Town, and the cover of Hallelujah) is that he had the balls to come out when he was a teen, and that he’s always described himself as a gay songwriter. An Advocate’s reviewer once labelled him as “the thinking gay man’s sex symbol”. Now, at the age of 45, Wainwright is happily married to Jörn Weisbrot, a doting father of a seven-year old daughter, and an opera and cake aficionado.

Kele Okereke

That’s a real surprise, right? First of all, because there aren’t many openly gay rock stars (hats off to Rob Halford!), and second of all, because the guy looks straight as hell. Originally from Liverpool, Okereke came out publicly as gay in 2010. Because of his remarkable talent, he was instantly embraced by the indie music scene in UK. But he’s not an artist who’d limit himself to music only. In the beginning of 2019, the 37-year old frontman of the band Bloc Party wrote the music for a new spirited musical, Leave to Remain, which explores gay marriage in the post-Brexit era. Okereke says he and the playwright Matt Jones didn’t want to focus on the harmful sides of gay life, but rather display something that spoke of love.

Minions

No, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight, and yes, “Minions” is exactly what’s written here. When Despicable Me 2 hit the theaters some years ago, the yellow staff of Gru took the world by storm. Kids love them, adults love them, but gay people just can’t get enough of the YMCA Minion style!

Ariana Grande

Some gay men with a more sophisticated taste for food, music, and whatever-the-cat-dragged-in are ready to fight every time someone calls the young artist “gay icon of her generation”. In February this year, she caused controversy after releasing the video for the single Break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored. The video ends with an implied kiss between Grande and model Ariel Ysmine. LGBTQ fans were left confused and disheartened by the video, as they were appalled by the fact that their sexuality was used as a shock value with the only purpose to stimulate viewership. Yet, Grade’s blinding highlighter, glitter heels and swinging ponytail has paved her the road to the gay hall of fame. And for now, it seems that she is there to stay.

Renée Zellweger

She must have had no idea that all through her terrific movie career of playing adorable roles and disturbing history of shocking facial plastic surgeries, gays have always loved her. But with the role of one of the most legendary gay icons of all times Judy Garland in the upcoming biopic Judy she just nailed it. When recently asked how it feels to be a gay icon herself, she just exclaimed, “What, really? Good for me.” Zellweger not once or twice has spoken dearly about her gay friends, and has said she has the greatest admiration for the LGBTQ people, who seems to have a knack for “embracing life.”

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