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11 unlikely LGBTI icons who give us life

11 unlikely LGBTI icons who give us life

Gemma Collins

Earlier this year, Twitter announced that the Babadook was a ‘gay icon.’

The Babadook is the titular antagonist of the critically-acclaimed 2014 Australian horror film of the same name – about a troubled boy terrorized by an imaginary monster.

He was exalted to icon status after Netflix accidentally categorized the movie in its LGBTQ section.

What’s more, Twitter has since decided that The Babadook is in a relationship with another horror-superstar, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, from this year’s blockbuster scary movie It.

The news about horror’s new gay power couple got us thinking about other unlikely LGBTI icons. (Including a few actual human ones!).

Here, the GSN editorial team discuss those who have provided unexpected inspiration, in the pursuit of strength, love and self-acceptance…


‘Storm is what I aspire to be. Now, I may not be able to wield the weather with my thoughts, or have strong feelings about monorails, but I embrace her all the same.

‘If LGBTI icons are examples of strength through adversity, then Storm is this. As a superhero, Storm’s power isn’t her lightening bolts but her personality. From her origins as a thief in Cairo, Storm proved how utterly capable she was again and again.

‘This is a character that, in the comics, led the X-Men without having any powers for years. Every sentence was a pronouncement of regal magnitude in the 90s cartoon. It helped she was at times heavily coded as queer. She’s so much cooler in the comics than in Halle Berry’s performance.

‘But it was also her weakness, the fear of enclosed spaces, that attracted me to her. She would be enclosed in “closets” and suffer agoraphobia attacks. But she would always be freed. And as she flew freely in the skies once more, I couldn’t help but want to do the same.’

Joe Morgan, Editor-at-large

2 Danny Dyer

‘Danny plays Mick, straight-talking Cockney and landlord of the Vic, on BBC soap EastEnders. He won the hearts of viewers when his character supported his on-screen son when he came out as gay. And in real life, actor Danny is similarly lovable.

‘Furthermore, he hit back at the few homophobes who expressed hate about the storyline on Twitter in 2014, in colourful, typically Danny Dyer fashion…

‘He also has a unique point of empathy with LGBTIs, having experienced homophobia in the past, as discussed in his book: The World According To Danny Dyer: Life Lessons from the East End.

‘“I actually suffered from homophobia, despite not being gay…” he wrote. “To my mates, and some who weren’t quite as matey, being an actor is exactly the same as being homosexual.”’

Jamie Tabberer, Travel Editor

3 Lara Croft

‘As a hetero-normative sex symbol with square shoulders and pointy boobs – why was this little queer kid so obsessed with Lara Croft? Now I reflect, I wonder if a big part of it is how being remarkably “sexually ambiguous” was in her nature.

‘She wasn’t bothered about relationships or love interests. All she wanted to do was be a good Tomb Raider. Croft’s feisty nature was something I was always jealous of growing up. She is unashamed of being exactly who she wants to be.

‘I was a geeky gay kid, who just wanted to be left alone, to avoid the constant comparison of being different. It’s easy to see the parallels. But maybe it goes beyond that too. After all, Lara Croft’s pixels command global attention from men. That’s every gay boy’s dream.’

Jamie Wareham, Young Voices Editor

Victoria Grayson from Revenge (played by Madeleine Stowe)

‘You only need to watch these six and a half minutes of cult TV show Revenge’s Victoria Grayson, played by Madeleine Stowe, to see why the undisputed bitter Queen of Bitch is many a cutting gay’s spirit animal.’

‘Although paying with her life for destroying the Clarke family, Victoria was, and will always be, the real winner for us in the ultimate socialite showdown of good vs. evil.’

‘However, in a plot twist that saw Victoria horrifically murder Amanda Clarke’s love interest, the dashing brit Aiden Mathis, even we couldn’t forgive her for taking one of the hottest pieces of eye candy on the show out of the equation.’

‘For this, we downgrade Victoria from obvious to unlikely icon. Best line: “You print that, and I’ll sue you for libel.”‘

Dan Beeson, Head of Engagement

5 Gemma Collins

‘The Only Way Is Essex reality TV star Gemma Collins is the diva I wish I was. She’s uninhibited and unapologetic – qualities I never fully accepted in myself while growing up as a closeted teen. I love her whole persona: her confidence, her fabulousness and her over-the-top antics.

‘She’s appeared on the likes of Celebrity Big Brother, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and Splash, and has experienced a resurgence recently (what with all the viral “memays,” as she calls them), going from strength to strength.

‘From on-air pregnancy scares, public meltdowns and the most hilarious one-liners, she’s earned her “divaship”. I’m not ashamed to admit I recently waited in line at 1am to see her stand on stage at G-A-Y and deliver her most iconic lines.’

James Besanvalle, Weekend Editor

6 Emma Roberts

‘My unlikely LGBTI icon is actress Emma Roberts. This is mainly for her role as Chanel Oberlin in the TV show Scream Queens.

‘Chanel is a sassy fashionista who is amazingly bitchy and sarcastic. It’s something Emma often carries into the characters she’s portrayed on TV (American Horror Story, Scream Queens). I always sit and think to myself, I wish I could be a little bit like her.

‘But it is her sheer awesomeness that makes her my LGBTI icon. It’s easy to forget that she previously lent her face to the NOH8 campaign in the fight for equality as well as being part of the celebrity vigil video for Orlando victims after the attack happened.’

Lewis Peters, Video Editor

7 Brian Blessed

‘Obscure LGBTI icon or just obscure figure of lust? I was not even a teenager when I first saw British actor Brian Blessed playing Prince Vultan in the 1980 sci-fi spectacular Flash Gordon but I felt inexplicably drawn to him.

‘I was too young to realize that he was the prototype ‘bear’ before bear sub-culture had even become a thing, or that I myself would be drawn to bears in later life. Plus, I didn’t even know I was gay. It wasn’t just the hulking presence of the man – it was his booming fearlessness that appealed to the inner wallflower in me.

‘From talking to others on the bear scene, I know I’m not alone. He typifies an enviable “to Hell with it” attitude that he clearly carries over into real life. In 2015 he recounted, as a young man, coming across a woman giving birth in the park. Blessed rushed to assist her deliver her child, biting through the umbilical cord with his own teeth.’

David Hudson, Deputy Editor

8 Susanna Reid

‘If anyone deserves some praise it has to be poor Susanna Reid. There’s honestly nothing worse I could imagine than having to sit next to Piers Morgan for a few hours every day. A large part of her job, in my view, is reining Piers in from getting into homophobic territory.

‘Every time a LGBTI issue is brought up on Good Morning Britain, our community relies on Susanna to not let it get too bad. I adore her for calling out Piers to his face when he’s been a bit of a dick because that is exactly what is needed. In that respect, Susanna is somewhat of a guardian angel for the LGBTI community.’

Charlie Mathers, Journalist

9 Uncle Deadly

‘Forget Bert and Ernie. Miss Piggy’s personal dresser, Uncle Deadly, is surely the gayest Muppet.

‘The blue dragon-style Deadly was originally a Phantom of the Opera-inspired ghoul haunting the Muppet Theatre. He had bit-parts in several of the films including Muppets Take Manhattan and the more recent Muppets Most Wanted, where he played the organ at Miss Piggy’s wedding.

‘But he got his real break in the 2015 adult-humour relaunch of the TV series. Uncle Deadly has a key role as Miss Piggy’s stylist. He keeps her diva personality in check and ensures she gets on stage each night. The moment when he asks Piggy if she’s had any work done while also in hospital for a broken leg is the stuff of comedy genius.

‘Ok, I’m relying on stereotypes. A gay dresser. How cliché. But then it’s the Muppets – serious it ain’t. And I think Deadly is pure genius – camp, suave, and cool under pressure. Muppets don’t really have sexualities, but Deadly is well on his way to being a gay icon for my money.

‘Check out the below scene, where he copes with a serious wardrobe malfunction, and a very distressed pig!’

10 Katherine Hepburn

Classic Hollywood stars were a big part of my identity growing up – and still are! However, Katharine Hepburn was a particular inspiration when navigating my queer identity. The way she held herself and her unashamed confidence in being nothing less than her authentic self always awed me.

She was known for wearing pants and the story about her walking around RKO in her underwear when they took her pants has always stuck with me. Her disregard for gender norms, her brazen attitude, she made me feel far more confident as a queer woman.

Anya Crittenton, reporter

11 Captain America

Bisexual Steve Rogers for America! This is a popular fandom desire among Marvel fans and it’s always ran deep with me. Captain America is one of my favorite characters. Imagining him as bisexual like myself and adopting progressive ways as someone who grew up in the 1930s and 40s? Sign me up. Picturing someone inherently good and compassionate, who always fights for justice, as queer is incredibly important to me.

Anya Crittenton, reporter