The AfterElton.com Gay List

One of our favorite mantras around the AfterElton
offices is “because visibility matters.”
Indeed, the idea that gay and bisexual
men need to be visible, both to ourselves and to the wider culture,
is one of the principle reasons AfterElton.com even exists. After all, it is only
by being visible to family, friends and the world that we’ve been able to
overcome the stereotypes and bigotry used to justify discrimination against the
GLBT community.

That quest for visibility explains why we have done so many
polls
including the AfterElton Hot 100, the Fifty Greatest Gay Movies, the Top
50 Gay TV Characters
, and the 50 Best Gay Books. After all, it’s not as if Entertainment Weekly is going to ask gay
and bisexual men which guys we think are the hottest, which movies mean the
most to us or, in the case of our latest poll, which celebrities we most
admire.

But guess what? When we do so, much of the rest of the world tends to
notice. The results of our Hot 100 poll are always reported in dozens of
countries, and winners of other AE polls are often mentioned in all sorts of
articles.

But why a poll about out celebrities? For better or worse,
celebrities are some of the most influential people on the planet, and their
fame allows them to either make the world a better place (Oprah Winfrey,
anyone?) or act like total jackasses in front of the entire planet. (Way to go, Charlie
Sheen
!)

By highlighting which out gay and bisexual men our readers most admire,
we celebrate not just those men, but how far the entire gay community has come.
After all, it wasn’t so long ago that finding 50 out gay and bisexual men for a
list like this would have been pretty hard to do.

It certainly isn’t any more. Thousands of AfterElton readers
voted in our poll, nominating over 300 different gay/bi men they admired. That’s a lot of visible
gay and bisexual men.

And note: we’re not even including all the out women there are. (We left that poll to our sisters over at AfterEllen.com, and if you’re interested you can find their results here.)

The men who made the top fifty in our poll were diverse in many ways,
including not just the obvious actors and musicians who rule pop culture, but
also includes two politicians, three athletes, a soldier, two writers, a sex
advice columnist and a gay rights activist.

Actually, almost everyone on the list could be called a gay
rights activist, and not just because they have all made the decision to be
out. Rather, almost every man in the top fifty is someone who has done
something to further the cause for gay equality, whether it be fighting Don’t
Ask/Don’t Tell, speaking up for marriage equality, or speaking out on the issue
of gay teens who are bullied.

Some, like Sir Ian McKellen, have been doing it for decades,
while others are brand new to the fight, but no less important or visible for
that.

Alas, the results weren’t terribly racial diverse, which
highlights an ongoing problem: limited GLBT visibility in minority
communities. But our list did have some men of color including two Hispanic
men, three Asians and two African American celebrities.

Enough pontificating about why this list matters.
We’re pretty sure you already get it. It’s on to the results, starting at number
50 and working our way to number 1!

50. Nathan Lane

Actor Nathan Lane

Born February 3, 1956 (1956-02-03) (age 55), stage and screen actor Nathan Lane might be best known for his role  as the flamboyant Albert in 1996’s The Birdcage (the all-time highest grossing gay film in North America). 

He came out officially in 1999 prompted by the death of Matthew Shepard. But even before that he dropped a lot of hints. When a reporter once asked him if he was gay he famously replied, “I’m 40, single and work in the musical theater. You do the math.”

Recently, Lane turned up on Modern Family as Cam and Mitch’s friend “Pepper.”

 

49. T. R. Knight

Actor T.R. Knight

Born March 26, 1973 (age 37) Theodore Raymond Knight is best known for his role as Dr. George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy. Knight came out publicly after reports surfaced that co-stars Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington got into a fight over Washington’s use of the word “f*ggot” to describe another cast member (Knight).

Afterward, Knight released the following statement to People: “I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I’d
like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I
prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I’m gay
isn’t the most interesting part of me.”

Washington was eventually let go from the series, and Knight asked to be released from his contract in 2009. Since then the actor has been active on the stage. Recently, he was on Broadway starring opposite Patrick Stewart in David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre.

48. Mika

Musician Mika

Mika (a.k.a. Mica Penniman) was born August 18th, 1983 in Beirut. His mother is Lebanese and his father American. In a September 2009 interview Mika
commented on his sexuality: “I’ve never ever labeled myself. But having
said that; I’ve never limited my life, I’ve never limited who I sleep
with… Call me whatever you want. Call me bisexual, if you need a term
for me…”

In March 2010, Mika was named a Knight in the Order of Arts for services to music by France. (He the youngest person to ever receive that award.) All well and good, but more importantly, in February 2011 Mika was named one of AfterElton’s Top 50 Gay Male Musicians.

 

 

47. Joel Burns

Ft. Worth Texas City Councilman Joel Burns

Joel Burns (born February 4, 1969) is a Fort Worth, Texas City Councilman. In October 2010 as a response to a tragic string of gay teen suicides, Burns spoke passionately at a City Council meeting about his own struggle with bullying as a teenager. The video of that emotional speech was posted on the web and was seen by millions.

 

 

46. James Duke Mason

James Duke Mason

18-year-old James Duke Mason (born April 27, 1992) is an actor and advocate. His parents are Belinda Carlisle and Morgan Mason, and he is the grandson of the late actor James Mason. The Advocate named him one of the most influential young GLBT Americans under 40.

45. Gavin Creel

Gavin Creel

Handsome 34-year-old stage actor Gavin Creel (born April 18, 1976) scored a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut in Thoroughly Modern Millie, but he really made a splash in the 2009 revival of Hair. He came out officially in an interview in 2009, the same year he was named one of The 37 Hottest Guys in Theater.

Further reading…

 

44. Alan Ball

Alan Ball

Born May 13th, 1957 (age 53), Alan Ball started out in television (he wrote for Cybill) and then scored an Oscar in 2000 for his American Beauty screenplay. From there, he brought us Six Feet Under and the seminal interracial gay TV couple David and Keith. Now of course he’s helming the vampire series True Blood. Between the two shows, Ball has brought us three of the Top 50 Gay TV Characters of All Time — no doubt with more to come.

 

43. Robert Gant

Robert Gant

42-year-old actor Robert Gant (born Robert John Gonzalez; July 13, 1968) is probably best known for playing Ben Bruckner on Queer As Folk (2001-2005). Gant came out in 2002. After QAF he has worked steadily in commercials and doing guest TV appearances, but he also devotes a lot of his time to philanthropic organizations such SAGE – Senior Advocacy for GLBT Elders and GLEH – Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing

Gant majored in English Lit at University of Pennsylvania and attended law school at Georgetown.

42. Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle was born May 13, 1987 (age 23). He is primarily a stage performer, appearing on Broadway in Bare: a Pop Opera and Spring Awakening. He is best known to TV audiences for playing Eric Van der Woodsen’s boyfriend Jonathan on Gossip Girl.

 

41. Chris Salvatore

Chris Salvatore

25-year-old Chris Salvatore was born May 22, 1985. The handsome performer started his career as a singer songwriter, but has also drawn attention as an actor for his performance as Zack in Eating Out: All You Can Eat.

Further Viewing…

 

40. Wilson Cruz

Wilson Cruz

37-year-old Wilson Cruz was born Wilson Echevarría on December 27, 1973. Openly gay from the start of his career, in 1994 he played the first gay teen on prime-time television Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez in the short-lived but classic series My So Called Life. Parts of the character’s storyline were inspired by Cruz’s own personal experiences.

Since then, Cruz has worked steadily in stage, film and television. He had a recurring role on the series Noah’s Arc and most recently he had a memorable guest appearance on the series Grey’s Anatomy.

Further Reading…

39. Sean Hayes

Sean Hayes

40-year-old Sean Hayes (born June 26, 1970) is best known for playing Jack McFarland on the sitcom Will & Grace. For many years Hayes declined to discuss his orientation with the press, but the actor finally came out in 2010.

More recently, Hayes has appeared on Broadway opposite Kristin Chenoweth in Promises, Promises. He also hosted the 64th Annual Tony Awards.

Further Reading…

 

38. Randy Harrison

Actor Randy Harrison

33-year-old Randy Harrison (born November 2, 1977) is best known to television audiences for playing Justin Taylor on the U.S. version of Queer as Folk. Since then he has worked steadily in New York theater.

Further Reading…

 

37. David Sedaris

David Sedaris

54-year-old best selling author David Sedaris was born December 26, 1956. He was working as an apartment cleaner when he was invited by Ira Glass to read one of his humorous personal essays, The SantaLand Diaries, on NPR. The performance was a big hit with listeners and has since become a holiday standard. That essay was included in a collection of short stories and other personal essays called Barrel Fever in 1994. Since then, Sedaris has published seven other popular collections and his live readings draw huge crowds. His sister is the actress/comedian Amy Sedaris.

36. Chad Allen

Actor Chad Allen

36-year-old Chad Allen was born June 5, 1974. He was a child actor and then teen heartthrob as Jane Seymour’s son on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He was outed by a tabloid toward the end of that series but has worked steadily ever since. He’s been in a number of independent films, he played gay detective Donald Strachey in a series of TV movies, and he had a memorable romantic role on General Hospital: Night Shift. Most recently he showed up on Dexter.

Further reading…

 

35. Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

32-year old Clay Aiken (born November 30th, 1978) was runner up in the second season of American Idol. He has since sold over 5 million albums worldwide. He has also appeared on Broadway in Spamalot, done numerous concert tours and made many television appearances. He came out in 2008

Further Reading…

 

34. Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming

46-year-old Alan Cumming (born 27 January 1965) is a Scottish born actor, producer, director and writer. He came out as bisexual in 1998 and currently lives with his partner Grant Shaffer in New York.

Cumming can currently be seen on The Good Wife playing the Machiavellian (and heterosexual) Eli Gold.

Further Reading…

33. B.D. Wong

B.D. Wong

B.D. Wong  (born October 24, 1960, age 50) is best-known for his roles as Dr. George Huang on Law & Order: SVU, as Father Ray on HBO’s Oz, and for his starring role in the Broadway production of M. Butterfly.

Further Reading…

 

32. David Burtka

David Burtka

David Burtka (born May 29, 1975, age 35) is probably best known as Neil Patrick Harris’ other half, but he’s had a notable acting career in his own right. He made his Broadway debut in the 2003 production of Gypsy. In addition to theater work, Burtka has had guest starring roles in several television series including The West Wing, Crossing Jordan, and How I Met Your Mother.

Burtka has lately concentrated on a culinary career and has established a Los Angeles catering company. He and Harris became the parents of twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace on October 12, 2010

Further Reading…

31. Lance Bass

Lance Bass

Lance Bass (born May 4, 1979 – age 31) was a member of the hugely successful boy band ’N Sync. After the band broke up, Bass started his own music production company, tried his hand at acting and even trained as a cosmonaut for the Russian space program. In July 2006, Bass came out in People magazine and had a high profile relationship with Reichen Lehmkuhl. He released his autobiography, Out of Sync, in October 2007, and was a finalist on Dancing with the Stars in 2008.

Further Reading…

30. RuPaul

RuPaul (RuPaul Charles)

RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960 – age 50) is best known for his drag queen persona RuPaul. He was a fixture in the New York and Atlanta club scenes before shooting to fame in 1993 with his dance hit single “Supermodel (You Better Work).” Since then he’s modeled for MAC cosmetics, made numerous film and televsion appearances, and released several albums. Most recently, he has produced and starred in Logo’s hit reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Further Reading…

 

29. Scott Evans

Actor Scott Evans

27-year-old Scott Evans (born September 21, 1983) is best known for his role as gay police officer Oliver Fish on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. He is also the younger brother of film actor Chris Evans.

Further Reading…

 

28. Darryl Stephens

Darryl Stephens

37-year-old Darryl Stephens (born March 7, 1974) came to fame playing title character Noah Nicholson in the television series Noah’s Arc. Stephens has also starred in Boy Culture and  Another Gay Movie, and officially came out in 2007.

Further Reading…

27. Tom Ford

Designer Tom Ford

American fashion designer Tom Ford (born August 27, 1961 – age 49) is also now a film director. His first directorial effort was 2009’s A Single Man. 

He and his partner fashion journalist Richard Buckley have been together since 1986.

Further Reading…

 

26. Nate Berkus

Nate Berkus

Nathan Jay “Nate” Berkus (born September 17, 1971 – age 39) started out as an interior designer in Chicago. He became widely known as a popular regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show  before launching his own successful syndicated program, The Nate Berkus Show in September 2010.

Further Reading…

 

25. Johnny Weir

Johnny Weir

26-year-old American figure skater Johnny Weir (born July 2, 1984) came out in his memoir Welcome to My World, published January 2011.

Further Reading…

24. Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright (born July 22, 1973 – age 37) is the son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. He has recorded six critically acclaimed albums, including Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall. Wainwright’s longtime partner is Jörn Weisbrodt.  

Further Reading…

 

23. Dustin Lance Black

Dustin Lance Black

Dustin Lance Black (born 10 June 1974 – age 36) is a screenwriter, producer, director and GLBT rights activist. He is probably best known for his screenplay for Milk, for which he won an Academy Award, but he has also written for the HBO series Big Love and his biographical screenplay on the life of J. Edgar Hoover is currently being filmed starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Clint Eastwood.

Further Reading…

 

22. Dan Choi

Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi (born February 22, 1981 – age 30) is a former U.S. Army Infantry officer and now GLBT rights activist. He attended West Point before entering the military and serving in Iraq as an Arabic linguist. After coming out publicly on The Rachel Maddow Show, Choi received a discharge letter from the Army. He subsequently devoted his energies to repealing DADT and in March 2010 was arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence.

Further Reading…

 


21. Congressman Barney Frank

Barney Frank

Congressman Barney Frank (born March 31, 1940 – age 70) has represented Massachusetts’ 4th District since 1981. (He has been re-elected 15 times.) Frank came out publicly in 1987.

 

20. Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn (born July 29, 1953 – age 57) was chair of fashion design at Parsons when Bravo reality series Project Runway launched in 2007. His role as design “mentor” on that series made him famous and much sought after as a style guru and television personality.

Further Reading…

 

19. Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy (Glee)

Writer/producer/director Ryan Murphy (born November 30, 1965 – age 45) is responsible for the television series Popular, Nip/Tuck and now Glee.

Further Reading…

18. George Takei

George Takei

George Takei (born April 20, 1937 – age 73) will forever be known as Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu. He came out in 2005, and he and husband Brad Altman are GLBT activists. They have campaigned tirelessly on behalf of gay marriage in California.

Further Reading…

 

17. Matthew Mitcham

Diver Matthew Mitcham

Matthew Mitcham (born March, 2 1988 – age 23) is an Australian diver. He came out as gay in 2008 to the Sydney Morning Herald in a profile piece of Beijing Olympic hopefuls. Mitcham went on to win a gold medal in the 10 meter platform, receiving the highest single dive score in Olympic history.

Further Reading…

 

16. Jake Shears

Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters)

Jake Shears (born October 3, 1978 (1978-10-03) – age 32) is the charismatic lead male vocalist for the Scissor Sisters.

Further Reading…

15. Russell Tovey

Actor Russell Tovey

Russell George Tovey (born November, 14 1981 (1981-11-14) – age 29) has been acting in British TV and theater since he was a child. He gained major exposure in both the stage and film productions of The History Boys but is probably best known for his current role as George the werewolf in the original UK version of Being Human.

Further Reading…

 

14. Luke Macfarlane

Actor Luke Macfarlane

Canadian actor Luke Macfarlane (born January 19, 1980 – age 31). He is best known for his role as Scotty Wandell on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. Macfarlane came out publicly in 2008.

Further Reading…

 

13. Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas (rugby)

Welsh professional rugby player Gareth Thomas (born July 25, 1974 – age 36 ) came out publicly in December 2009. According to Sports Illustrated, at the time that made Thomas the world’s only openly gay professional male athlete currently active in a team sport.

Further Reading…

12. Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

Stephen John Fry (born August 24, 1957) is an English  actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director. He is active on Twitter and can boast over 2 million followers. Famously witty, about being gay Fry once quipped: “I suppose it all began when I came out of the womb. I
looked back up at my mother and thought to myself, ’That’s the last time
I’m going up one of those.'”

Further Reading…

 

11. Dan Savage

Dan Savage

Dan Savage (born October 7, 1964 (1964-10-07) – age 46) writes the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column Savage Love. He is also an author and journalist and highly effective media pundit. In September 2010, together with longtime partner Terry Miller, Savage launched the It Gets Better Project. The campaign encourages adults (both gay and straight) to submit videos assuring gay teenagers that life can improve after bullying in early life.

Further Reading…

 

10. Cheyenne Jackson

Cheyenne Jackson

Cheyenne Jackson (born July 12, 1975 – age 35) is an actor and singer. He currently appears on 30 Rock as sweet-natured Canadian Danny
Baker
and has had numerous guest appearances on other shows, including Glee, where he plays competing glee club coach Dustin Goolsby. Jackson has also had major success on Broadway, a highlight being his turn as the cut-off jeans wearing, rollerskating “Sonny” in Xanadu. He has been out from the start of his career.

Further Reading…

9. Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (October 22, 1975 (1975-10-22) – age 35) portrays Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family.

Further Reading…

 

8. Sir Elton John

Elton John

Sir Elton John (born March 25th, 1947 (1947-03-25) – age 63) is one of the most successful recording artists of all time. He has released over 30 albums and sold more than 250 million records worldwide. John has been out since the late eighties and has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since then. He started the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, and the organization has since raised over 200 million dollars.

His longtime partner is David Furnish (they have been together 18 years and were joined in a civil partnership in 2005). The couple has a young son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John.

Further Reading…

 

7. Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff (born March 26, 1985 – age 25) sprang to fame playing the lead in the Broadway musical Spring Awakening. (He was nominated for a Tony for that role.) He is best known to television audiences for a recurring role on Glee as “Jesse St. James,” a romantic interest to Lea Michelle’s character Rachel Berry. (Michelle was also Groff’s co-star in Spring Awakening).

Further Reading…

6. Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen (born May 25, 1939 – age 71) is one of the world’s most celebrated actors. He has a Tony award, two Oscar nominations and in addition to critical acclaim he is well known to audiences for iconic signature roles in two major franchises: Magneto in the X-Men movies, and Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films.

McKellen came out publicly in 1988 and was a founding member of Stonewall, a leading UK LGBT rights group. He was knighted in 1991.

Further Reading…

 

5. John Barrowman

Actor John Barrowman

John Barrowman (born March 11, 1967 (1967-03-11) – age 44) is a Scottish-American actor and musical performer. He is best known for his role as the dashing bisexual Captain Jack Harkness in the science fiction series Torchwood.

Further Reading…

 

4. Ricky Martin

Singer Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin (born Enrique Martín Morales on December 24, 1971) is a Puerto Rican pop singer and actor who first came to fame as a member of the Latin boy band Menudo, then starting in 1991 as a solo artist. He has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide.

Throughout his career there was much speculation about the singer’s orientation. In 2010 Martin announced that he was a “fortunate homosexual man.”

Martin’s twin sons, Matteo and Valentino, were born via a surrogate mother in 2008.

Further Reading…

3. Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris (June 15, 1973 (1973-06-15) – age 37)  was a successful child actor best known for the title role in the series Doogie Howser, M.D. He successfully made the transition to adult roles and is better known to audiences now as the womanizing  Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, or for playing the title role in Joss Whedon’s musical web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

He is also a much sought after presenter and has hosted the Tonys and the Emmys.

Harris came out in 2006: “…I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite
proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the
fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in
the business I love.” 

He has two children with longtime partner David Burtka (also on The Gay List at #32).

He alsol has the distinction of being AfterElton’s “Gay Man of the Decade.”

Further Reading…

 

2. Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert (January 29, 1982 – age 29) was the runner up on the eighth season of American Idol. He came out officially in an interview with Rolling Stone soon after the competition ended. He released his debut album, For Your Entertainment in late 2009 and embarked on a worldwide tour to support it. He is currently at work on a second studio album. He is ranked tenth on AfterElton’s list of the Top 50 Gay Male Musicians.

Further Reading…

 

1. Chris Colfer

Chris Colfer (Glee)

Chris Colfer (born May 27, 1990 (1990-05-27) – age 20) plays gay teen Kurt Hummel on the FOX series Glee. He won a Golden Globe this year for his sensitive portrayal of the out and proud teen. Glee was Colfer’s first television role and he originally auditioned for the part of wheelchair-bound Artie. Ryan Murphy was so impressed with Colfer that he created the role of Kurt specifically for him.

 
Further Reading…

 

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The 2011 AfterElton.com Gay List….

1. Chris Colfer
2. Adam Lambert
3. Neil Patrick Harris
4. Ricky Martin
5. John Barrowman
6. Sir Ian McKellen
7. Jonathan Groff
8. Elton John
9. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
10. Cheyenne Jackson
11. Dan Savage
12. Stephen Fry
13. Gareth Thomas
14. Luke Macfarlane
15. Russell Tovey
16. Jake Shears
17. Matthew Mitcham
18. George Takei
19. Ryan Murphy
20. Tim Gunn
21. Barney Frank
22. Dan Choi
23. Dustin Lance Black
24. Rufus Wainwright
25. Johnny Weir
26. Nate Berkus
27. Tom Ford
28. Darryl Stephens
29. Scott Evans
30. RuPaul
31. Lance Bass
32. David Burtka
33. B. D. Wong
34. Alan Cumming
35. Clay Aiken
36. Chad Allen
37. David Sedaris
38. Randy Harrison
39. Sean Hayes
40. Wilson Cruz
41. Chris Salvatore
42. Matt Doyle
43. Robert Gant
44. Alan Ball
45. Gavin Creel
46. James Duke Mason
47. Joel Burns
48. Mika
49. T.R. Knight
50. Nathan Lane