The growth of US Lesbian Public Figures
By McKenzie Collins on 2017-02-09
Firstly, it was women exempt from power positions. Then, the LGBT community. Find out where we are today with this list of 10 US public figures who are lesbian.
There was once a time not very long ago when it was absurd to see a female in a power position. In fact, it was unheard of. Females existed far out-with the realms of politics. They were believed to lack the capacity for decisions of legislative consequence. The concept of female leaders, of a female even attempting to assert an independent path for herself was completely unrealistic.
Even throughout the process of gaining recognition and civil rights, women were not treated fairly. Those in power positions were hand-picked. If a woman sought a leadership position and was not as a woman “should be”, she was sure to face ridicule, sometimes, even to be shunned by the public. Take Hilary Clinton, for example. Since the beginning of her political career, she has been slammed for being “too manly”.
It has been even more difficult, then, for women whom are openly lesbian to gain access to leadership roles. Those amongst the LGBT community have struggled to gain acknowledgement and acceptance for years.
Fortunately, it is 2017 and it can be noted that although there remains progress to be made, and there still exists prejudice, we are not as conservative as we once were. In fact, in America, a place where a lot of people are driven by traditionalist views, there exist a number of public figures who are lesbian. The fight for acknowledgement of women, and further, of those in the LGBT community has crossed to allow room on a pedestal for a few remarkable leaders.
Worth acknowledging is Ellen Degeneres. Not only is she one of the first leaders of the LGBT community, she doubles as a hilarious and multi-talented comedian and TV show host. When Ellen made the decision to come out in 1997, her worst nightmare happened: she lost her entire career. Her show, Ellen, was cancelled in 1998. She received no calls or jobs, despite having toured successfully as a comedian just prior. Now, in 2017, if you say the name Ellen, one face comes to mind for almost everyone. This face resembles a re-established and reputable talk-show host whom holds the respect of thousands around the world.
Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Wisconsin assembly, is another notable lesbian public figure. She was the first openly gay U.S. Senator of all time. Indeed, this marks a stage of remarkable progression for the nation. However, it must be noted that Baldwin was only elected in 2012. That’s less than half a decade ago. If anything can be taken from such, it’s that while times are shifting, they are doing so at an absolutely gradual pace.
Fortunately, leaders such as Martina Varatilova have been initiating the progression of the LGBT movement for a long time now. One of the most successful tennis players of all time, she came out in 1981. Until her old-age (she is 82 now), she has continued to advocate for the rights and acceptance of the LGBT community as alike to any other individual.
Ellen Page is another very famous, very successful role model. She just so happens to be lesbian as well. While originally from Canada, Page has centred her career most prominently within the American film industry. She has since discussed Hollywood’s limiting attitude towards homosexuals: “Now I’m gay, I can’t play a straight person.” Despite Hollywood’s less than liberal approach, Page has yet managed to make a decent career for herself.
Leading the LGBT community from stages across the world is Sia Furler. Singer/songwriter and producer, Furler has in the past few years extended herself and her music across the American Pop charts. In 2014, she rose to fame with her hit, “Chandelier”. She’s been openly gay since the beginning of her fame, and has fortunately seen great success despite the prevailing negativity aimed at her sexuality.
Robin Roberts of Good Morning America gave LGBT yet another figure to look up to when she came out in 2013. This was big news for the public whom were well-accustomed to watching Roberts at the beginning of their days. Her honesty provoked the more conservative to change the channel. Others remained, acknowledging that her sexuality actually did not at all influence the way she presented.
Kate McKinnon, more commonly known for her comedic work on Saturday night live, is another public figure whom is openly gay. Brittney Griner, the famous American basketball player is characterised similarly. Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, although always labelled “lesbian mayor” (as if it matters to her job), is open about her sexuality too. Actress and comedian, Jane Lynch has proven a great model for the LGBT community, crediting her confidence “to people who had the courage to stand up when nobody else was doing it.”
We should consider ourselves fortunate to have such strong female public figures leading the world and also the LGBT community. The more we come to diversify our power structures, the sooner we will relate to and satisfy a greater amount of people. It is 2017. We have come a fair way. But, by all means, the journey is not over yet.
One day, this list shall not include just 10 lesbian public figures. Why, it won’t be on lesbian public figures at all. From this day onwards, there will be no need to distinguish lesbian from straight; either will be so readily accepted. It is up to us to make this happen. We ought to accept our conservative past, but to fight with all our might for a more faithful future.