America is becoming gayer and gayer. If you told the queens at the Stonewall riots that there would be a big gay Oreo on their Facebook newsfeeds, they wouldn’t have believed it. Well they actually wouldn’t understand what that meant, but that’s not the point. As we submerse ourselves into an American culture that celebrates same sex love, booty shorts and deals on craft supplies from Michael’s- we can be thankful for those who have been such a pillar of strength in the American LGBT community. Some of these sources of support are very local, such as a parent or close friend. Other signs of support come from broad places and touch and inspire many gay men and women, sometimes without even realizing it. These figures are gay American icons.
Gay American icons stand in the spotlight- maybe known for their art like Andy Warhol, possibly famous for their music like Cher, film work like Judy Garland, or their commitment to activism and gay causes, like Heidi Montag. Some may not know they are gay icons or had any intention of being responsible for a drag queen’s rise to the top, but they were. Before we celebrate with two bottles of Skinny Girl and blast En Vouge from our Mini Coopers, we need to take some time to appreciate and respect some of our most influential and prominent gay American icons.
Tinky Winky first came to our attention in a PBS Children’s show called the Tellitubbies. The show consisted of four jubilant beings from another world that would dance and sing on rolling meadows. They had big bellies and youthful faces, almost as if a very violent hurricane had thrown together Bruce Vilanche and Justin Beiber, then farted a little. The show had a very clean image until word came out that one of the tellitubbies was… a homosexual. It was suspected that Tinky Winky was gay since it was purple, carried a purse, and sported a triangle on his head (the sign of the fag).
Everyone took sides on the debate, some supporting the concept of having a gay character in children’s entertainment, others attacking the show on moral grounds. Jerry Falwell was at the forefront of the attack with two tight fists, unbeknownst that this was exactly what Tinky Winky liked. The Washington post wrote a column saying that Ellen DeGeneres had been dethroned by Tinky Winky as the new ‘chief national gay representative.’ That sucks for Ellen, you know, being a real life human being and all. The producers of the show did eventually make a comment to end the madness. They said “Tinky Winky is neither gay nor straight. Tinky Winky is a character on a children’s television show. We don’t even think it has a gender.”
Earhart was described as a tom-boy growing up. She climbed trees, kept worms and toads as pets, and hunted rats with a rifle. A pre-destined lesbian if I ever heard one. Covering herself with baggy attire and cloaking her bowl cut with an aviator cap, Earhart became an accomplished pilot. Once she gained notoriety after her solo flight across the Atlantic, she developed a close friendship with another big time lesbian, Eleanor Roosevelt. It was reported that Roosevelt shared many of her interests and passions, especially ‘women’s causes.’ Roosevelt actually obtained her student permit after flying with Earhart. Its known in certain circles that during Earhart’s attempted world flight in 1937, she landed on an island in the pacific to make a private life for herself and Eleanor Roosevelt. Sadly, Eleanor never fulfilled her end of the bargain, and Earhart died of a broken heart while scissoring a coconut.
Kermit the Frog
Oh Kermit, you faggot. Kermit is our gay icon starting way back into the 50s and has several resurgences into popular media. Lady GaGa famously wore a Kermit dress to some function and he was even her date to an awards show. Gays everywhere have admired this very, very gay frog because he possessed behaviors that the other Muppets did not. First, amphibians are notoriously filthy and Kermit was impeccably clean and tidy. Next, he was hit on constantly by a fat girlfriend who he did not want to hook up with, yet was too polite to say it directly- something all gay men are very familiar with. And us gays have enjoyed his ever-growing relationship with Fozzie bear. Also, let us not forget the song he sang for the Muppets movie called The Rainbow Connection. It goes like this:
“Have you been half asleep and have you heard voice?
Ive heard them calling my name
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
Ive heard it too many times to ignore it
Its something that Im supposed to be
Someday well find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers the dreamers and me”
And right when you could think this could get any gayer, it was nominated for an Oscar.
Jan shot to gay icon status in the 70’s with the television show “The brady Bunch.” Awkward and boyish, everyone knew a Jan. Many young lesbians watched the show and were inspired by her character and identified with her choices. We saw a spike in the amount of gay women who decided to come out the same week after the notorious episode where Jan Brady creates a false boyfriend by the name of George Glass, a well-known and commonly used technique in the book of dyke.
Her jealously of her hot sister and he close relationship with Alice were other factors that solidified her status as a gay icon. The impact on our popular culture was incredible. When men and women would suspect that another person was gay, they would ask “Is she a Jan?” or “Hes acting like a Jan.” It began to spread into pick up lines like “I’m gonna Jan you so hard” and “He janned all over my chest.” There was also the short lived brand of strap on toys called ‘Simply Jan’ but they couldn’t find a way to effectively market it.
Lewis and Clark
Gay men love to travel, so when Thomas Jefferson asked a room full of people if anyone wanted to go on a government funded expedition, two faggy hands shot straight into the air. Lewis and Clark were sent into a transcontinental voyage to investigate plant and animal life. They saw this as a wonderful opportunity to garden and watch birds. They were joined by their trusty fag hag Sacagawea who became invaluable as she would give warning signals to the couple if they were about to be caught fucking in the bushes. Unfortunately, the two broke up towards the end of the trip when Clark was discovered having relations with a maritime fur trader in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t the cheating that disturbed Lewis, it was the profession of the trader, since he thought fur was incredibly tacky.
Back in the early naughties, I guess that’s what were calling the 2000’s, Republican politician Rick Santorum made it very clear that he did not think gay men and women deserved to be fairly integrated into society. He tried to tear them down, but little did he know he would become one of the most well known gay icons of our time. The thanks belongs to an author by the name of Dan Savage, who asked for submissions from his readers to redefine Santorum.
The response was overwhelming and eventually Santorum was redefined as the ‘Frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Back in the early naughts, this was the first result on a Google search for Santorum. Today, it is still the first result. The second, the Wikipedia article on the anal sex by product. The third, Rick Santorum, the politician. Rick has publicly addressed this issue as a ‘cruel prank’ that is still following him, but he doesn’t seem to understand its integration into our gay culture. When he was still seeking the GOP nomination, the former presidential hopeful tweeted this:
It just keeps getting better.