5 queer stars we want to see more of this year


These five stars are changing the way we think about gender and sexuality, and they’re doing it by being shamelessly queer in the public eye.

Queer stories are still wildly underrepresented in the media. Even in 2018, the number of LGBTQ characters on television or openly queer musicians on the charts still leave something to be desired. Some may not realize it, but that representation can make a world of difference to so many people.

Think of the little boy who is teased for being different, who doesn’t even know why, because he doesn’t see characters like himself on TV. Or a small-town teenage girl who, deep down, feels like a boy, but doesn’t know if that’s possible, because she’s never seen a trans character facing those struggles before.

There are people around the world, young and old, who feel ashamed of who they are because they have always been told they were freaks, but with more representation, they just might realize they’re not alone.

In honor of Pride month, we’re looking at five stars who have embraced their identity as members of the LGBTQ and are helping spread more visibility to the community. Just being true to who they are is a radical statement. Every song they release or LGBTQ storyline they are a part of is a step in the right direction.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 26: Janelle Monae attends the premiere of Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ at the El Capitan Theatre on February 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae has been around for years now and was widely considered a queer figure before ever confirming her sexuality. When she came to prominence on the music scene, she was known for her androgynous style, which included a signature pompadour hairstyle and a variety of beautifully tailored suits.

She started out her music career as a “pop android”, but with the release of her latest album Dirty Computer, she finally let people see the real her: a flawed, black, queer woman. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Grammy-nominated artist revealed that she identified as pansexual, and how she came to terms with her sexuality. “Being a queer black woman in America,” she said in the interview, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women — I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf-cker.”

Dirty Computer received widespread acclaim from critics, and fans have been praising her for opening up, and for the album’s stunning visuals (including “Pynk”, a celebration of women and vaginas, featuring Monae in a pair of labia pants with Tessa Thompson appearing as the clitoris).

Her acclaimed comeback comes hot on the heels of a big year for her on the silver screen, when she appeared in not one, but two critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated films: Moonlight and Hidden Figures. The more movies Monae appears in and queer-positive music she releases, the better. She’s making a huge difference to any queer people of color out there who feel like they just don’t belong.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 21: Asia Kate Dillon visits Build at Build Studio on March 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Asia Kate Dillon

Asia Kate Dillon represents something that we don’t often see in Hollywood: someone who identifies as non-binary.

They (the actor’s preferred pronoun) first made headlines when they were cast on the Showtime show Billions as the gender non-binary character Taylor Mason. The show was praised for its inclusion of a non-binary character, an identity that is becoming increasingly more common as people start to learn more about it. Someone who identifies as non-binary may feel both male and female, or neither at all.

Dillon brought about an important discussion in the media about the outdated policies of award shows when they were submitted by their network for their work on Billions. Showtime was unaware of if Dillon should be submitted under “Best Actor” or “Best Actress”.

It turns out, the Academy has always stated that anybody can be submitted under either category for whatever reason they see fit, so Dillon went with Actor, “because it is a non-gendered, non-sexed word from the late 1500s referring to performers in plays, specifically.”

This role, surprisingly, is what helped Dillon finally realize they were, in fact, non-binary, a term they never heard of until they got the description for the character Taylor. Imagine what more gender non-conforming roles in mainstream television and movies could do for other people out there who are confused about their gender identity.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – APRIL 12: Keiynan Lonsdale attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 12, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Keiynan Lonsdale

Keiynan Lonsdale starred as Bram in this year’s heartwarming (and groundbreaking) gay teen movie Love, Simon, and like with Asia Kate Dillon, the role is what helped him finally come out.

Towards the end of filming Love, Simon, Lonsdale was disappointed in himself for not coming out to the cast and crew. He was out to some friends and family, and even to the cast of CW’s The Flash (he plays Wally West, aka Kid Flash), but he still couldn’t bring himself to come out to them, which made him upset: “I don’t know why I’m so scared. I’m on an LGBT film, playing this character, there’s a gay director, everyone is so supportive. I couldn’t be in a better environment.”

When he did come out, the cast and crew could not have been more supportive. A couple weeks later, he came out publicly as queer on his Instagram page:

"I like to change my hair, I like to take risks with how I dress, I like girls, & I like guys (yes), I like growing, I like learning, I like who I am and I really like who I’m becoming. Spent way too many years hating myself, thinking I was less valuable because I was different.. which is just untrue."

His unapologetic attitude and the growth he has shown since his coming out makes him such a great role model for other people who are struggling in the same ways, and having him in a major movie like Love, Simon gives him the platform to share that message. Let’s hope he can appear in more projects to keep spreading it.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MARCH 31: Recording artist Troye Sivan attends the Inaugural GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 31, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan may be a rising pop star now, but before any of that, he was just a boy on YouTube with a lot of fans. He came out publicly in a video on his YouTube channel in 2013, on the three year anniversary of when he came out to his family. Despite his dreams of being a singer, he didn’t let the possibility of harming his career get in the way of being his true self.

Fast forward a few years, and Sivan is readying his second studio album, Bloom (which features a collab with Ariana Grande), and embarking on a world tour. He even appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live earlier this year. There aren’t many openly gay pop stars, but Sivan is blazing a path in a huge way, and even blurring gender lines along the way.

In the music video for “Bloom”, Sivan dons makeup, nail polish, and a floral skirt in some shots. Him being out was one thing, but now he’s not afraid to be as shamelessly queer on the public stage as he wants, and that’s a beautiful thing for young, scared queer people to see.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 30: Singer-songwriter Kim Petras attends the Lambda Legal 2018 National Liberty Awards at Pier 60 on April 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lambda Legal)

Kim Petras

Kim Petras has a claim to fame that was a bit more unorthodox than the other stars on this list. In her home country of Germany, Petras rose to prominence as a teenager for being one of the youngest people in the world to get gender reassignment surgery. She was 16 years old.

Petras isn’t ashamed of her transition. Still, that doesn’t mean she wants to be classified as a “trans pop star” either. “I just hate the idea of using my identity as a tool,” she told HuffPost. “It made me the person I am and that’s a big part of me, but I think music is about your feelings and your fantasies and it goes deeper than your gender or your sexuality.”

The past year has definitely been huge for Petras. She released her first stateside single “I Don’t Want It At All” in August 2017, and has since collaborated with Charli XCX, released a handful of other wildly popular singles, landed herself a campaign with H&M for their Pride collection, and will be heading out on tour with none other than Troye Sivan.

Her brand of bubblegum pop is quickly garnering a lot of attention. Plus a major ad campaign that will appear in stores around the world is a huge deal. The fact that she’s trans is important. But the fact that she isn’t being defined by her transition is even more important. It shouldn’t be a huge deal, but in today’s society, it still is.

Petras is heading towards big things, and whether she notices or not, she’s without a doubt a trailblazer who is bringing more visibility to the trans community.

Next: 20 essential songs for your Pride Month playlist

We celebrate each and one of these queer stars, and wish everyone a happy Pride month!