Cabarets and Revues
The fragile persona and emotion-packed voice of actress and singer Judy Garland are powerfully linked to gay culture and identity; she appealed especially to gay men, but also to lesbians.
Ari Gold, the award-winning recording artist, is unusual for his openness in an industry that has not exactly welcomed openly gay performers.
Singer, talk show host, and a creator and producer of television shows, Merv Griffin remained in the closet even as his bisexuality was an open secret within show business communities.
Multi-talented Sam Harris is best known as a singer and actor; since coming out publicly in 1999, he has lent his voice to the cause of glbtq rights.
African-American actor, director, and folk-singer Gordon Heath appeared in theater, film, television, and radio productions, but is best known as a Parisian cabaret performer.
The first woman to gain significant attention as a male impersonator in the United States, vaudeville performer Annie Hindle created a stir when she married her dresser, Annie Ryan.
Blues singer, lyricist, and actress Alberta Hunter, one of the top recording artists in the 1920s and 1930s, experienced a dramatic comeback in her old age.
Playwright Albert Innaurato's plays are as remarkable for the marginalizing ethnic identity, sexual orientation, and body image of their characters as they are for the author's refusal to adopt politically correct attitudes.
Gay actor and singer Larry Kert introduced some of the most memorable songs in American musical theater.
Although apparently heterosexual, musical theater composer Jonathan Larson wrote sympathetically about a diverse community of artists, many of whom are glbtq.
Writer, actress, and intellectual refugee from the Third Reich, Erika Mann was one of the twentieth century's most intriguing nonconformists, noted especially for her anti-fascist cabaret satire.
Alec Mapa has enjoyed success as an actor and on the comedy circuit. He is also an activist for glbtq rights.
Swiss actor, cabaret performer, and stage director Karl Meier was, under the pseudonym "Rolf," editor of Der Kreis, the leading European homophile publication, from 1943 until its demise in 1967.
One of the most respected singers of the mid-twentieth century, Mabel Mercer was a most original stylist who in her later years became a beloved icon of gay New York.
Self-proclaimed male actress Charles Pierce took an aggressive stance against homophobia, believing that quick wit, a serious attitude, and consummate acting skill could vanquish oppression.
Singer Johnnie Ray caused a sensation in the 1950s with energetic concert performances of hit songs, but his career was damaged by arrests for solicitation and gossip about his sexuality.
One of the major female impersonators of the 1970s and 1980s, Craig Russell was also an accomplished actor.
The American pop band Scissor Sisters was spawned in New York City's gay club scene; frequently addressing issues of transgressive sexuality, the band has cultivated a large glbtq fan base.
Composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist and director Scott Wittman, partners in life and collaborators in theater, film, and television projects, have a long list of credits in the entertainment industry.
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.
Charismatic performer and activist Robin Tyler has spent much of her life enmeshed in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights, from planning national marches to promoting same-sex marriage.
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.
Variety and vaudeville and related theatrical forms featured cross-dressed acts, as well as routines that challenged prevailing gender constructions.
Comedy writer and performer Bruce Vilanch has appeared on stage, television, and film and is a tireless proponent of glbtq causes.
Composers and lyricists Robert Wright and George "Chet" Forrest, partners in life and art, specialized in adapting themes from classical music into engaging tunes for movie scores and stage musicals.