Musical Performers and Entertainers
Noted for his diminutive size and amazing voice, Jimmy Somerville achieved fame as the lead singer with the openly gay pop groups Bronski Beat and The Communards; many of his songs are overtly political and deal with such issues as gay relationships and the loss of friends to AIDS.
Now widely acclaimed as one of the greatest voices of popular music, British rock star of the 1960s Dusty Springfield has long been a lesbian icon.
Best known to television viewers for his role as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on the series M*A*S*H, David Ogden Stiers has had a long and successful career.
Lead singer, lyricist, and composer for the rock band R.E.M., as well as a movie producer, Michael Stipe identifies himself as a queer artist.
A major figure in American music who immensely enriched jazz by investing it with complexly orchestrated form, a prolific composer, arranger, and performing musician, Billy Strayhorn was unusual for his refusal to hide his homosexuality.
An ensemble of Black women singers who are also cultural and political activists, Sweet Honey in the Rock has embraced lesbianism as a life force and given it a voice.
One of the most original and talented musicians to come out of the disco arena, Sylvester was a versatile stylist who brought depth--as well as campiness--to all his material.
A powerhouse performer noted for her no-nonsense stage presence and a penchant for cross-dressing, blues singer and songwriter Big Mama Thornton not only established a signature style of her own, but also inspired mainstream rockers.
One of the most prominent American conductors of his generation, Michael Tilson Thomas may be the first gay conductor to achieve such eminence without masking his sexuality.
Acclaimed Costa Rican-Mexican performer and singer Chavela Vargas became notorious for the eroticism of her performances and for her open expression of lesbian desire.
The Village People, a disco-era singing group, successfully translated the interests, coded language, and iconography of the gay male subculture into music that crossed over into mainstream pop.
Siegfried Wagner, the son of composer Richard Wagner, was himself a prolific composer and conductor; his bisexuality was the source of both scandal and also of elaborate attempts to erase it from histories of the Wagner family.
Singer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright, dubbed the "thinking gay man's sex symbol," has built a successful career with witty lyrics and rich melodies.
Perhaps best remembered for her award-winning performances as an actress, Ethel Waters was also a renowned Blues singer, known to have sexual relationships with other women.
Pioneering singer, songwriter, activist, and teacher, Cris Williamson has been at the forefront of the women's music movement--and a major presence in the lesbian community--for decades.
The first winner of the British Pop Idol talent show, Will Young has gone on to achieve success as a recording artist and actor, while also using his celebrity to advocate for good causes.