LGBT culture in New York City
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|Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people|
New York City has one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the world and the most prominent. Brian Silverman, the author of Frommer's New York City from $90 a Day, wrote the city has "one of the world's largest, loudest, and most powerful" LGBT communities", and "Gay and lesbian culture is as much a part of New York's basic identity as yellow cabs, high-rises, and Broadway theater". LGBT Americans in New York City constitute by significant margins the largest self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in the United States, and the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village are widely considered to be the genesis of the modern gay rights movement. As of 2005, New York City was home to an estimated 272,493 self-identifying gay and bisexual individuals. The New York City metropolitan area had an estimated 568,903 self-identifying GLB residents. Meanwhile, New York City is also home to the largest transgender population in the United States, estimated at 25,000 in 2016.
History as gay metropolis
Charles Kaiser, author of The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America, wrote that in the era after World War II, "New York City became the literal gay metropolis for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from within and without the United States: the place they chose to learn how to live openly, honestly and without shame."
The Stonewall Inn, located at 51 and 53 Christopher Street, along with several other establishments in the city, was owned by the Genovese crime family. In 1966, three members of the Mafia invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff; the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license. It had no running water behind the bar—used glasses were run through tubs of water and immediately reused. There were no fire exits, and the toilets overran consistently. Though the bar was not used for prostitution, drug sales and other "cash transactions" took place. It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.
Visitors to the Stonewall Inn in 1969 were greeted by a bouncer who inspected them through a peephole in the door. The legal drinking age was 18, and to avoid unwittingly letting in undercover police (who were called "Lily Law", "Alice Blue Gown", or "Betty Badge"), visitors would have to be known by the doorman, or look gay. The entrance fee on weekends was $3, for which the customer received two tickets that could be exchanged for two drinks. Patrons were required to sign their names in a book to prove that the bar was a private "bottle club", but rarely signed their real names. There were two dance floors in the Stonewall; the interior was painted black, making it very dark inside, with pulsing gel lights or black lights. If police were spotted, regular white lights were turned on, signaling that everyone should stop dancing or touching. In the rear of the bar was a smaller room frequented by "queens"; it was one of two bars where effeminate men who wore makeup and teased their hair (though dressed in men's clothing) could go. Only a few transvestites, or men in full drag, were allowed in by the bouncers. The customers were "98 percent male" but a few lesbians sometimes came to the bar. Younger homeless adolescent males, who slept in nearby Christopher Park, would often try to get in so customers would buy them drinks. The age of the clientele ranged between the upper teens and early thirties, and the racial mix was evenly distributed among white, black, and Hispanic patrons. Because of its even mix of people, its location, and the attraction of dancing, the Stonewall Inn was known by many as "the gay bar in the city".
Police raids on gay bars were frequent, occurring on average once a month for each bar. Many bars kept extra liquor in a secret panel behind the bar, or in a car down the block, to facilitate resuming business as quickly as possible if alcohol was seized. Bar management usually knew about raids beforehand due to police tip-offs, and raids occurred early enough in the evening that business could commence after the police had finished. During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, and customers were lined up and their identification cards checked. Those without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested; others were allowed to leave. Some of the men, including those in drag, used their draft cards as identification. Women were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing, and would be arrested if found not wearing them. Employees and management of the bars were also typically arrested. The period immediately before June 28, 1969, was marked by frequent raids of local bars—including a raid at the Stonewall Inn on the Tuesday before the riots—and the closing of the Checkerboard, the Tele-Star, and two other clubs in Greenwich Village.
On June 23, 2015, the Stonewall Inn was the first landmark in New York City to be recognized by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on the basis of its status in LGBT history, and on June 24, 2016, the Stonewall National Monument was named the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to the LGBTQ-rights movement.
At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn's double doors and announced "Police! We're taking the place!" Stonewall employees do not recall being tipped off that a raid was to occur that night, as was the custom. According to Duberman (p. 194), there was a rumor that one might happen, but since it was much later than raids generally took place, Stonewall management thought the tip was inaccurate. Days after the raid, one of the bar owners complained that the tipoff had never come, and that the raid was ordered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, who objected that there were no stamps on the liquor bottles, indicating the alcohol was bootlegged.
Historian David Carter presents information indicating that the Mafia owners of the Stonewall and the manager were blackmailing wealthier customers, particularly those who worked in the Financial District. They appeared to be making more money from extortion than they were from liquor sales in the bar. Carter deduces that when the police were unable to receive kickbacks from blackmail and the theft of negotiable bonds (facilitated by pressuring gay Wall Street customers), they decided to close the Stonewall Inn permanently. Two undercover policewomen and two undercover policemen had entered the bar earlier that evening to gather visual evidence, as the Public Morals Squad waited outside for the signal. Once inside, they called for backup from the Sixth Precinct using the bar's pay telephone. The music was turned off and the main lights were turned on. Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors. As Michael Fader remembered,
Things happened so fast you kind of got caught not knowing. All of a sudden there were police there and we were told to all get in lines and to have our identification ready to be led out of the bar.
The raid did not go as planned. Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their gender, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar. Maria Ritter, then known as Steve to her family, recalled, "My biggest fear was that I would get arrested. My second biggest fear was that my picture would be in a newspaper or on a television report in my mother's dress!" Both patrons and police recalled that a sense of discomfort spread very quickly, spurred by police who began to assault some of the lesbians by "feeling some of them up inappropriately" while frisking them.
The transgender community in New York City played a significant role in fighting for LGBT equality during the period of the Stonewall Riots and thereafter. However, until the Stonewall riots, this community had felt marginalized and neglected by the gay community. Over the next several decades and especially since the inception of the 21st century, New York City's transgender community has grown in size and prominence, reaching an estimated 25,000 in 2016.
State of New York official LGBT monument
On June 25, 2017, the day of 2017 New York City Pride March festivities, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the artist Anthony Goicolea had been chosen to design the first official monument to LGBT individuals commissioned by the State of New York – in contrast to the Stonewall National Monument, which was commissioned by the U.S. federal government. The State monument is planned to be built in Hudson River Park in Manhattan, near the waterfront Hudson River piers which have served as historically significant symbols of New York's role as a meeting place and a safe haven for LGBT communities.
Demographics and economy
Population and concentration
|Geographic entity||GLB population||Density of GLB individuals per square mile||Percentage of GLB individuals in population|
|New York City||272,493||894||4.5 (2005)|
|New York City metropolitan area||568,903||84.7||4.0|
Lonely Planet New York City stated that of the demographics, the city's LGBT population has "one of the largest disposable incomes", encompassing professionals including physicians, attorneys, engineers, scientists, financiers, and journalists, as well as those in the entertainment industry, fashion design, and realty. Conversely, New York City is also a highly popular LGBT tourist destination, and the city actively courts LGBTQ tourism.
Chelsea in Manhattan has become a focal point of gay socialization. The Christopher Street area of the West Village portion of Greenwich Village in Manhattan was the historical hub of gay life in New York City and continues to be a cultural center for the LGBT experience. The East Village/Lower East Side area of Manhattan is also a gayborhood. Hell's Kitchen and Morningside Heights are additional Manhattan neighborhoods which have developed a significant LGBT presence of their own.
The Manhattan neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and Harlem were home to a sizable homosexual population after World War I, when men and women who had served in the military took advantage of the opportunity to settle in larger cities. The enclaves of gays and lesbians, described by a newspaper story as "short-haired women and long-haired men", developed a distinct subculture through the following two decades. Prohibition inadvertently benefited gay establishments, as drinking alcohol was pushed underground along with other behaviors considered immoral. New York City passed laws against homosexuality in public and private businesses, but because alcohol was in high demand, speakeasies and impromptu drinking establishments were so numerous and temporary that authorities were unable to police them all.
As gay urban bohemia
The social repression of the 1950s resulted in a cultural revolution in Greenwich Village. A cohort of poets, later named the Beat poets, wrote about the evils of the social organization at the time, glorifying anarchy, drugs, and hedonistic pleasures over unquestioning social compliance, consumerism, and closed mindedness. Of them, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs—both Greenwich Village residents—also wrote bluntly and honestly about homosexuality. Their writings attracted sympathetic liberal-minded people, as well as homosexuals looking for a community.
Strife in 1960s
By the early 1960s, a campaign to rid New York City of gay bars was in full effect by order of Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr., who was concerned about the image of the city in preparation for the 1964 World's Fair. The city revoked the liquor licenses of the bars, and undercover police officers worked to entrap as many homosexual men as possible. Entrapment usually consisted of an undercover officer who found a man in a bar or public park, engaged him in conversation; if the conversation headed toward the possibility that they might leave together—or the officer bought the man a drink—he was arrested for solicitation. One story in the New York Post described an arrest in a gym locker room, where the officer grabbed his crotch, moaning, and a man who asked him if he was all right was arrested. Few lawyers would defend cases as undesirable as these, and some of those lawyers kicked back their fees to the arresting officer.
The Mattachine Society succeeded in getting newly elected Mayor John Lindsay to end the campaign of police entrapment in New York City. They had a more difficult time with the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA). While no laws prohibited serving homosexuals, courts allowed the SLA discretion in approving and revoking liquor licenses for businesses that might become "disorderly". Despite the high population of gays and lesbians who called Greenwich Village home, very few places existed, other than bars, where they were able to congregate openly without being harassed or arrested. In 1966, the New York Mattachine held a "sip-in" at a Greenwich Village bar named Julius, which was frequented by gay men, to illustrate the discrimination homosexuals faced.
None of the bars frequented by gays and lesbians were owned by gay people in the 1960s. Almost all of them were owned and controlled by organized crime, who treated the regulars poorly, watered down the liquor, and overcharged for drinks. However, they also paid off police to prevent frequent raids.
Greenwich Village contained the world's oldest gay and lesbian bookstore, Oscar Wilde Bookshop, founded in 1967 but permanently closed in 2009 citing the recession and the rise of online booksellers. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center – best known as simply "The Center" – has occupied the former Food & Maritime Trades High School at 208 West 13th Street since 1984. In 2006, the Village was the scene of an assault involving seven lesbians and a straight man that sparked appreciable media attention, with strong statements both defending and attacking the parties. In June 2015, thousands gathered in front of the Stonewall Inn to celebrate the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court affirming same-sex marriage in all fifty U.S. states, while in June 2016, thousands gathered similarly in vigil for the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre. In February 2017, thousands protested at the Stonewall National Monument against the proposed policies of the administration of U.S. president Donald J. Trump affecting both LGBTQ individuals and international immigrants, including those holding the intersection of these identities.
Chelsea is one of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in New York City. In the 1990s, many gay people moved to the Chelsea neighborhood from the Greenwich Village neighborhood as a less expensive alternative; subsequent to this movement, house prices in Chelsea have increased dramatically to rival the West Village area of Greenwich Village.
The same phenomenon of gentrification in Greenwich Village which created a gay mecca in Chelsea has in turn spawned a new gay mecca in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan just uptown, or north, of Chelsea, as gentrification has taken hold in Chelsea itself. The Metropolitan Community Church of New York, geared toward the LGBT community, is located in Hell's Kitchen.
Brooklyn is home to a large and growing number of same-sex couples. Same-sex marriages in New York were legalized on June 24, 2011 and were authorized to take place beginning 30 days thereafter. The Park Slope neighborhood spearheaded the popularity of Brooklyn among lesbians, and Prospect Heights has an LGBT residential presence. Numerous neighborhoods have since become home to LGBT communities.
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project maps NYC's LGBT history, neighborhood by neighborhood; placing the city's LGBT history in a geographical context. Its interactive map features neighborhood sites important to NYC LGBT history in fields such as the arts, literature, and social justice, in addition to important gathering spaces, such as bars, clubs, and community centers.
Elsewhere in New York City metropolitan region
As the LGBTQ community has achieved higher socioeconomic status and greater political clout over the decades, it has moved beyond the boundaries of New York City and spread out across the New York City metropolitan area. Westchester County in particular has spawned several gay villages concomitantly with hipster villages, notably in Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, and Tarrytown. Fire Island is the largest gay enclave on Long Island, followed by The Hamptons. Gayborhoods have also emerged across the Hudson River from Manhattan in the U.S. state of New Jersey, in Asbury Park, Maplewood, Montclair, and Lambertville. Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey, elected Reed Gusciora, its first openly gay mayor, in 2018. In June 2018, suburban Maplewood, New Jersey unveiled permanently rainbow-colored crosswalks to celebrate LGBTQ pride, a feature displayed by only a few other towns in the world.
Politics in New York City are mainly liberal. Rosenberg and Dunford stated that this political standpoint had historically been "generally beneficial to the gay community".
In New York City New York City Republican Party political administrations actively court LGBT voters. LGBT voters were 3.4% of New York City's electorate in 1989.
In the mid-1970s LGBT participation in New York City politics began. In the 1977 Mayor of New York City elections, Edward Koch was the preferred candidate; there had been speculation that Koch was secretly a homosexual. However, Koch associated with religious figures opposed to homosexuality and did not pass LGBT civil rights bills, and therefore in 1981, Frank Barbaro became the candidate favored by the LGBT political groups. In the 1985 mayoral election Koch had almost no support; Donald P. Haider-Markel, the author of Gay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook, wrote that Koch's "actions on AIDS seemed inadequate at best". In the 1989 mayoral election, David Dinkins received support from the LGBT community. Since then, every mayor has received support from the LGBT community, which included Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg.
Jimmy Van Bramer, the Majority Leader of the New York City Council in 2017, is an openly gay politician from Queens who has served in the City Council for over six years. Van Bramer was one of seven openly LGBT members of the New York City Council as of 2017, alongside Rosie Mendez, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, James Vacca, Daniel Dromm and Carlos Menchaca. Christine Quinn served as Speaker of the New York City Council between 2006 and 2013. Carlos Menchaca also became the first Mexican American member of the New York City Council when elected in November 2013.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center is located on West 13th Street in the West Village, Lower Manhattan.
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. SAGE is located at 305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor NYC, NY 10001. SAGE has expanded throughout New York City, with additional centers now located in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance is a New York performing and visual art workshop space and performance venue located in The Bronx. Co-founded in 1998 by Arthur Aviles, dancer and choreographer who performed with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and Charles Rice-Gonzales, a writer, LGBT activist, and publicist. Focusing on works exploring the margins of Latino and LGBTQ cultures. The programs at BAAD! are made up of dancers, LGBTQ visual artists, women, and artists of color.
The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (LLM) is located in Manhattan.
Lambda Legal is headquartered in New York City.
The Lesbian Herstory Archives is located in a townhouse in Brooklyn. It has 12,000 photographs, over 11,000 books, 1,300 periodical titles, and 600 videos. There are also thousands of miscellaneous items.
The Bronx Community Pride Center was previously located in the Bronx. The city government had funded the nonprofit agency. Lisa Winters, who headed the agency from 2004 until 2010, had stolen $143,000 from the agency; she was ultimately fired. She was convicted of stealing the funds and misusing a credit card belonging to another person. In April 2013 she received a prison sentence of two concurrent terms, each two to six years. Winters' theft resulted in the closure of the agency.
New York City Pride March
The annual New York City Pride March traverses southward down Fifth Avenue and ends at Greenwich Village. The New York City Pride March rivals the Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade as the largest pride parade in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants and millions of sidewalk spectators each June. The march passes by the site of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, the location of the 1969 police raid which launched the modern LGBT rights movement.
The march, the rally, PrideFest (the festival), and the Dance on the Pier are the main events of Pride Week in New York City LGBT Pride Week. Since 1984, Heritage of Pride (HOP) has been the producer and organizer of pride events in New York City.
History of the New York City Pride parade
Early on the morning of Saturday, 28 June 1969, gay (LGBT) individuals rioted following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at 53 Christopher Street, in the West Village of Lower Manhattan. This riot and further protests and rioting over the following nights were the watershed moment in modern LGBT Rights Movement and the impetus for organizing LGBT pride marches on a much larger public scale.
On November 2, 1969, Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes proposed the first pride march to be held in New York City by way of a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) meeting in Philadelphia.
That the Annual Reminder, in order to be more relevant, reach a greater number of people, and encompass the ideas and ideals of the larger struggle in which we are engaged-that of our fundamental human rights-be moved both in time and location.
We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street and this demonstration be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration.
We also propose that we contact Homophile organizations throughout the country and suggest that they hold parallel demonstrations on that day. We propose a nationwide show of support.
All attendees to the ERCHO meeting in Philadelphia voted for the march except for Mattachine Society of New York, which abstained. Members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) attended the meeting and were seated as guests of Rodwell's group, Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN).
Meetings to organize the march began in early January at Rodwell's apartment in 350 Bleecker Street. At first there was difficulty getting some of the major New York organizations like Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) to send representatives. Craig Rodwell and his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, Michael Brown, Marty Nixon, and Foster Gunnison of Mattachine made up the core group of the CSLD Umbrella Committee (CSLDUC). For initial funding, Gunnison served as treasurer and sought donations from the national homophile organizations and sponsors, while Sargeant solicited donations via the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop customer mailing list and Nixon worked to gain financial support from GLF in his position as treasurer for that organization. Other mainstays of the organizing committee were Judy Miller, Jack Waluska, Steve Gerrie and Brenda Howard of GLF. Believing that more people would turn out for the march on a Sunday, and so as to mark the date of the start of the Stonewall uprising, the CSLDUC scheduled the date for the first march for Sunday, June 28, 1970. With Dick Leitsch's replacement as president of Mattachine NY by "Michael Kotis" in April, 1970, opposition to the march by Mattachine ended.
Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride", for her work in coordinating the march. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT Activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities. As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, "The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'"
Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first LGBT Pride march in U.S. history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park. The march took less than half the scheduled time due to excitement, but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs. Although the parade permit was delivered only two hours before the start of the march, the marchers encountered little resistance from onlookers. The New York Times reported (on the front page) that the marchers took up the entire street for about 15 city blocks. Reporting by The Village Voice was positive, describing "the out-front resistance that grew out of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn one year ago".
The 2017 New York City Pride parade was the first in its history scheduled to be broadcast and streamed live.
Stonewall Riots' 50th anniversary commemoration across New York State
Preparations were advancing as of 2017 by New York State for the 2019 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In June 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that cultural events would be promoted statewide by hosting Stonewall 50 / WorldPride in 2019 as the largest international LGBT pride celebration.
Out FM is an LGBT talk radio show.
The film Paris is Burning documents the cultural contributions of gay, bisexual and trans New Yorkers mostly from Harlem ; especially those of color coming from mostly black or Latino backgrounds. Much of the documentary centers around drag culture. African American and Latino members of the LGBT community in the 80s invented dances such as vogueing and coined terms such as 'reading' and 'throwing shade.' The TV series Pose on FX expanded further upon the premise of Paris is Burning.
Celebrity-featured New York City LGBTQ-rights galas
New York City hosts a variety of LGBTQ-rights galas annually. The following is a list of some of these galas featuring the presence of celebrities:
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah ("CBST") is a Jewish synagogue located in Manhattan. It was founded in 1973 and describes itself as the world's largest LGBT synagogue. The Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY) in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Midtown Manhattan is affiliated with the worldwide Metropolitan Community Church.
Heritage of Pride or NYC Pride organizes LGBT community events such as the LGBT Pride March. The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival is held in the city. MIX NYC organizes other LGBT film festivals. The Fresh Fruit Festival exhibits works of LGBT artists. The New York Gallery Tours company offers a monthly LGBT art gallery tour.
Historically, the St. Patrick's Day Parade has not allowed openly LGBT groups to participate. However, the organizers announced that in 2015 the first LGBT group will be permitted to have a float.
Self-identifying LGBTQ New Yorkers
Broadway and stage
- Jon Robin Baitz – playwright, screenwriter, and producer
- Anne Bogart – director
- David Burtka – Broadway and television actor, chef
- Roberta Colindrez – actress and writer
- Quentin Crisp – late stage actor
- Ariana DeBose – actress, singer and dancer
- Richard Greenberg – playwright and screenwriter
- Neil Patrick Harris – Broadway and television actor, producer, singer, comedian, magician, and television host
- Brian Hutchison – actor
- Cheyenne Jackson – actor and singer
- Robin de Jesús – actor
- Larry Kramer – playwright, author, producer, and LGBT rights advocate
- Tony Kushner – playwright and screenwriter
- Joe Mantello – director and actor
- Keith McDermott – actor, director and memoirist
- Danny McWilliams – actor and comedian
- Andy Mientus – actor, Broadway musicals
- Lee Pace – actor
- Jim Parsons – Broadway and television actor, co-star, The Big Bang Theory
- Billy Porter – actor and singer
- Andrew Rannells – actor and singer
- Jeff Whitty – playwright and actor
- Aquaria – drag queen and performance artist (winner of the 10th Season of RuPaul's Drag Race)
- Joey Arias – drag queen and performance artist
- Kevin Aviance – drag queen and performance artist
- Bob the Drag Queen – drag queen and performance artist (winner of the 8th Season of RuPaul's Drag Race)
- Lady Bunny – drag queen and founder Wigstock event
- Monét X Change – drag queen
- Dallas DuBois – drag queen and actor
- John Epperson – drag queen, writer, musician, and performance artist known as Lypsinka
- Murray Hill – drag king and performance artist
- Hedda Lettuce – drag queen and singer
- Milk – drag performer and fashion model
- Peppermint – drag queen
- Shequida – drag artist, writer, and opera singer
- Sasha Velour – drag performer (winner of the 9th Season of RuPaul's Drag Race)
- Sherry Vine – drag queen and musician
Entrepreneurship and technology
- Prabal Gurung – fashion designer
- Marc Jacobs – fashion designer
- Michael Kors – fashion designer
- Derek Lam – fashion designer
- Phillip Lim – fashion designer
- Isaac Mizrahi – fashion designer
- Zac Posen – fashion designer
- Christian Siriano – fashion designer
- Brandon Sun – fashion designer
- Alexander Wang – fashion designer
- Jason Wu – fashion designer
Film and television
- Desiree Akhavan – film director, producer, and screenwriter
- Casper Andreas – director, writer, and actor
- Brian Balthazar – co-executive producer, The View
- Matt Bomer – actor and director
- Wolfgang Busch – documentary filmmaker
- Bill Condon – director, screenwriter, and producer
- Laverne Cox – transgender actress
- Lee Daniels – director, screenwriter, and producer
- Billy Eichner – actor, comedian, and writer
- Rodney Evans – director and screenwriter
- Frankie Grande – television personality, co-host of Style Code Live
- dream hampton – documentary filmmaker
- Michael Patrick King – director, writer, and producer
- Carson Kressley – television personality, former host of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
- John Krokidas – director, writer, and producer
- Jennie Livingston – documentary filmmaker
- Kate McKinnon – comedian, Saturday Night Live
- John Cameron Mitchell – director, writer, and actor
- Janet Mock – TV host, writer, and transgender rights activist
- Lauren Morelli – screenwriter
- John Mulholland – documentary filmmaker
- Cynthia Nixon – actress
- Stacie Passon – director, screenwriter, and producer
- Patrik-Ian Polk – director, screenwriter, and producer
- Zachary Quinto – actor and producer
- Dee Rees – director, screenwriter, and producer
- Yoruba Richen – documentary filmmaker
- Mj Rodriguez – transgender actress
- Harmony Santana – transgender actress
- Greta Schiller – documentary filmmaker
- Christopher Tyra – director, screenwriter, and producer
- Andrea Weiss – documentary filmmaker, author, and professor (CUNY)
- Rutina Wesley – actress
- Samira Wiley – actress and model
Literature and photography
- Nahshon Dion Anderson – writer and screenwriter
- Ellis Avery – author
- Cris Beam – author, journalist
- Bruce Benderson – author
- Cass Bird – photographer and artist
- Jennifer Finney Boylan – trans woman author
- Augusten Burroughs – author, memoirist
- Regie Cabico – poet and spoken-word artist
- Peter Cameron – author
- Susan Choi – author
- Michael Cunningham – author
- Nicole Dennis-Benn – author
- Mark Doty – poet and memoirist
- Martin Duberman – biographer and historian
- Grace Dunham – author
- David Ebershoff – author and editor
- Paul Lisicky – author and memoirist
- Jaime Manrique – poet, essayist, and translator
- Robert Mapplethorpe – late photographer
- Eric Marcus – author
- Darnell L. Moore - author
- Lesléa Newman – author and editor
- Rakesh Satyal – author
- Ariel Schrag – cartoonist and television writer
- Charles Silverstein – author, therapist, and gay activist
- Carter Smith – fashion photographer
- Colm Toibin – author, playwright essayist, and critic
- Ocean Vuong – poet, essayist
- Edmund White – author, critic, and memoirist
- Jack Anderson – dance critic and author
- Rose Arce – journalist and producer
- Josh Barro – journalist and senior editor, Business Insider
- Charles Blow – visual op-ed columnist, The New York Times
- Ben Brantley – journalist and chief theater critic,The New York Times
- Frank Bruni – journalist and op-ed columnist, The New York Times
- Sam Champion – meteorologist and television weather anchor
- Andy Cohen – television personality
- Anderson Cooper – journalist and television anchor, CNN
- George Dorris – editor and writer
- David W. Dunlap – journalist, The New York Times
- Ronan Farrow – journalist and lawyer
- Chris Geidner – journalist and legal editor, BuzzFeed
- Stephanie Gosk – journalist, NBC News
- Perez Hilton – blogger
- Sally Kohn – journalist, political commentator
- Steve Kornacki – writer and political correspondent with NBC News
- Don Lemon – journalist and television anchor, CNN
- Michael Lucas – columnist, activist, director
- Rachel Maddow – journalist and television anchor, MSNBC
- Adam Moss – writer and editor, New York magazine
- Michael Musto – journalist
- Jim Nelson – editor, GQ magazine
- Rosie O'Donnell – television personality
- Suze Orman – author, financial advisor, and television host
- Robin Roberts – journalist and television anchor, Good Morning America
- Thomas Roberts – TV journalist and news anchor
- Choire Sicha – editor, The New York Times Style section
- Nate Silver – writer, statistician, and founder/editor of FiveThirtyEight
- Shepard Smith – journalist and television anchor, Fox News Channel
- Andy Towle – blogger, political commentator, and founder of Towleroad
- Jann Wenner – co-founder and publisher, Rolling Stone
- Jenna Wolfe – journalist and TV news host
- J. Alexander – model and fashion designer
- Leyna Bloom – fashion model and transgender activist
- Peche Di – transgender model, who started the first transgender modeling agency in the U.S., in New York City
- Dilone – model
- Rain Dove – model and activist
- Shay Neary – transgender model, first transgender plus-size model featured in a major fashion campaign
- Yasmine Petty – transgender model
- Geena Rocero – supermodel and transgender activist
- Mal Blum – singer and songwriter
- Dai Burger – rapper
- Caushun – rapper
- Cazwell – rapper
- Lady Gaga – singer and songwriter
- Angel Haze – rapper and songwriter
- Junglepussy – rapper and music artist
- DJ Keoki – electronic musician
- Cakes da Killa – rapper
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