I drew up a list of the top 15 LGBTQ people who kept on making the headlines, both here in LGBTQ media and in straight media. These are not the "15 greatest LGBT people of 2009," nor are they the "15 people who advanced equality the most in 2009." This isn't "Alex Blaze's favorite people," either, since that list would be very different and a lot less photogenic. They're people who identify as L, G, B, T, or Q who, for one reason or many, got talked about in American media.
Our choices are after the jump, based mostly on what Google and our archives had to tell us about who was important this year. Who would you add to that list?
15. Neil Patrick Harris
I had 14 people on this list and I asked Bil if he could think of anyone I should add. He said Neil Patrick Harris, with two exclamation points. Fine, Bil, and I hope you get to meet him in 2010, because something tells me you're going to end up in prison and we're going to be reading headlines about what that gay blogger did to the How I Met Your Mother star. He hosted the Emmy's and the Tony's this year, and appeared all over the TV, showing America that gay people could be blond, cute, television stars too.
14. Leiomy Maldonado
On America's Best Dance Crew, Vogue Evolution wowed the judges and the audience with their underground vogue dance routines. Leiomy, the star of the crew, was openly transgender from day one, but kept the focus on her out-of-this-world dance moves.
13. John Berry
Outside of politics wonks, few people in the community know his name. But people know the impact of his work as the openly gay OPM chief, making him the most powerful LGBT person in the Obama Administration. He worked during the first half of 2009 getting a sweeping new set of rules for LGBT federal employees to ensure their fair treatment, and has continuously defended the Obama Administration to the LGBT community.
12. Tammy Baldwin
While she wasn't as big a headline grabber as one of the other openly gay Congressional representatives, Tammy Baldwin did extensive work on bills that will advance LGBT equality. She introduced legislation to help LGBT health care, increase CARE Act funding, and grant domestic partnership benefits to federal employees. She later testified for an inclusive ENDA while being an outspoken voice for real health care reform and women's choice.
11. Dan Choi
Dan Choi, an Arabic linguist, outed himself on the Rachel Maddow show and was subsequently discharged from the military. He started an association of gay West Point grads and continued to advocate for an end to DADT throughout the year, appearing at Prides, on the cable news, and at the National Equality March.
10. Diane Schroer
Col. Diane Schroer was denied employment by the Library of Congress in an obvious case of transphobic bias, and she went to court and fought. The court eventually decided that discrimination based on gender identity was literally the equivalent of sex discrimination. She was awarded half a million dollars in May and testified for the ENDA later in the year.
9. Sam Adams
The openly gay mayor of Portland, Oregon, came into the national spotlight early in the year when local media found out that he had sex with a much younger adult of the same sex with a name that would have gotten laughed out of a Harlequin novel, Beau Breedlove. Some speculated about whether the relationship started when Breedlove was 17, although the attorney general found there wasn't enough evidence to charge Adams with anything. The recall effort continues in Portland.
8. Kevin Jennings
The founder of GLSEN and one of the leading gay activists of the last few decades, Kevin Jennings was picked by the Obama Administration to lead the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. While he has lain low and done his job, the right wing has been attacking him the entire year with one easily misproven attack after another, and they show no signs of letting up. Still, the man's representing and the president's standing by him, because nothing the right's thrown at him can stick.
7. Cleve Jones
Cleve Jones came back into the LGBT movement's radar early in the year with his large role in Milk. Later he called for a march on Washington when the idea wasn't popular. Eventually it got organized and attracted over 100,000 people, energizing a segment of the LGBT community.
6. Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow, one of the most prominent LGBT people in the media, kept on getting attention on her show for not being afraid to take on her guests because she didn't care if they liked her. From Tim Pawlenty to Pat Buchanan to Richard Cohen, Rachel Maddow skewered her debating opponents. She reminded us throughout the year what it's like to have a cable TV host, with all that comes with that position, who was a consummate liberal.
5. Annise Parker
Over the last ten years, the LGBT community has taken more losses than wins when it comes to elections. But openly queer politicians manage to get wins that LGBT issues often don't. Annise Parker was elected to be the mayor of the largest American city that's to have an openly gay mayor by keeping her nose to the grindstone and working hard while her opponent attacked her sexuality. Good for her.
4. Perez Hilton
Well, we all knew that Carrie Prejean moment would have to make it into one of these top 10 lists, and this is how we did it. While I was tired of him a long time ago, the man put a homophobe under the microscope when he asked the Miss USA finalist her thoughts on same-sex marriage. Then, in June, Hilton, who wanted Isaiah Washington fired for using the word "faggot" two years ago, called Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas a "faggot," got punched, pressed charges, and then got the Task Force on his case. And then CNN said he was the most prominent gay latino in the US, reminding us all how far us queer latin@s have to go.
3. Chaz Bono
When Chaz Bono, who most Americans knew as Sonny and Cher's little girl, announced he was transitioning, he became the most famous transgender person in America. He started a deeply personal process on the national stage, and he immediately became the subject of attacks from both the right and other, assorted, uneducated Americans. He's the first person that I know of, though, to explain the difference between sex and gender on Good Morning America. He never shied from LGBT causes in the past, and I'm sure he'll keep on leading America through Transgender 101 well into 2010.
2. Barney Frank
Representative Barney Frank, one of the most power Democrats in Washington and the most powerful gay man in politics, was in both the gay and straight news throughout 2009, starting with an exhaustive profile in the New Yorker in January. He introduced an inclusive ENDA and worked with LGBT activists to try to convince his colleagues on the Hill to vote for it. He proved himself a thorn in the side of the some of the more... vocal gay activists as he defended the Justice Department's DOMA brief and voiced opposition to the National Equality March. He sent the teevee gasbags into a collective case of the vapors when he called Antonin Scalia a "homophobe," and video of him asking a tea bagger "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" was a much-needed antidote to the August of Crazy. And that's not even getting into when he was in the news for banking regulation....
1. Adam Lambert
In the beginning of 2009, we met this scrappy young not-publicly-out singer on American Idol, who was subjected to a whole lot of "Is he or isn't he?" speculation until he came out in May in a Rolling Stone interview. We kept on hearing about him over the summer, a hint here or there about his up-coming album, until he shocked the TV punditry with his performance at the American Music Awards in November. He was shunned by ABC, insulted by Bill O'Reilly, and waffled on by GLAAD. Barbara Walters named him one of the most fascinating people of 2009, and we can't deny that he was a big gay newsmaker.