It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, a vital event which launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Today, we have seen many victories for equality and the empowerment of queer people worldwide.
Major role players in helping to empower the queer community are members of the LGBTQ+ community who are celebrities, politicians and influencers. They represent the LGBTQ+ community in many spaces such as Hollywood, government, the music industry and life, in general.
50 years later, it is important to acknowledge the role of queer celebrities and why they mean so much to fans and young people, especially in the fight for equality.
Celebrities’ representation influences many aspects of our lives and can assist in initiating positive changes.
For me, queer celebrities and icons have truly inspired and assisted me with accepting myself for who I am. I will never forget watching Troye Sivan and Connor Franta’s coming out Youtube videos, and finally feeling comfortable with my identity when I was a young teenager.
Last year, Janelle Monae’s empowering, unapologetic Dirty Computer visual album helped me so much.
Queer celebrities truly have touched the lives of many, including mine.
Thanks to them, I have reached a point where I am unapologetic and proudly queer.
In terms of representation, Ayrton Cozjin (18) says that it is important because, ‘it gives members of the community idols who look up to and also help them with accepting themselves.’
He also adds that representation ‘normalizes being queer to people who aren’t part of the community. This leads to a sense of equality.’
‘Representation and advocacy is a paramount necessity’
Nicholas Thompson (19) agrees with Cozjin and believes that ‘queer celebrities help open up the conversation regarding the LGBTQ+ community and initiates people to talk about issues, and educate themselves about queer people.’
‘Breaking the negative stigmas about being queer is important. That is what queer celebrities have done,’ says Den-Mari Jacobs (19). ‘I recently discovered my sexuality. It was thanks to brave icons of the community that shared their stories which guided me through my journey.’
In addition to this, queer icons’ advocacy must not be disregarded. It is a massive component to achieving equal rights and justice. Antonia Smallberg (20) says, ‘the LGBTQ+ community suffers still in ways which are grossly unnecessary and should be protected.
For this to happen, representation and advocacy is a paramount necessity.’
Queer Youtubers have been brilliant influences in young queer peoples’ lives.
The site itself has been in hot water for previous questionable decisions regarding queer content. But queer creators have helped so many people to figure themselves out, and feel unapologetically queer in their spaces.
A recent, notable movie for the LGBTQ+ community was Love, Simon. The movie which simply normalized and uplifted queer people.
People praised it for it’s diverse cast. The movie also sends the powerful message that queer people are also just people, living our lives, wanting to find love, and succeed in life.
When it comes to queer icons and celebrities, individuals such as Ellen De Generes, Kehlani, Hayley Kiyoko, Halsey, Tom Daley, Troye Sivan, Janelle Monae, Laverne Cox, Lady Gaga, and more, are notable mentions who have played major, key roles in advocating for equality.
Music, film and videos and their creators, as a whole, have been able to connect and uplift many queer individuals who have been trying to figure themselves out.
There is no doubt that we have a long way to go in order to achieve true equality and the complete empowerment of the LGBTQ+ community worldwide.
Despite this, it is comforting to know that queer voices are growing on the media, political and icon spheres. This assists in normalizing queerness and breaking down structural and ideological views of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and queerphobia.
Stonewall 50 Voices
Luke Waltham is a bisexual writer. He is currently a law student. In his spare time he is a human rights activist, and ‘proud fanboy.’ Find him on Twitter here.
Gay Star News is commemorating 2019 as the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots. Our Stonewall 50 Voices series will bring you 50 guest writers from all around the world, with a focus on the diversity of our global LGBTI community. They will be discussing the past, present and future of our struggle for love and liberation.