The Power 50

4.3.2007

By Out.com Editors

Influential gays are becoming increasingly more visible--and more powerful.

Oh, the trappings of power... The mannish, lesbian Queen Christina (1626-1689) was officially declared 'King of Sweden'; Caligula roamed his palace at night, ordering the sun to rise; Clay Aiken's concert tour rider demands that his food contain no mushrooms, coffee, mint, chocolate, or shellfish. Not all gays in power in 2007 exercise such megalomania, but the truth is that influential gays are becoming increasingly more visible and more powerful. Although power is often subjective and defies a ready definition, we determined that to earn a spot on our Power 50 list, candidates have to be gay and American or working primarily in the United States (sorry, Elton) and have significance in our culture at large. To work out each person's power ranking, we used a weighted system of criteria, awarding scores based on (1) political clout; (2) pop-culture resonance; (3) individual wealth; and (4) current personal profile. Whether they're raking in millions, advancing the gay rights movement, entertaining us with snarky celebrity gossip, or selling us $2,000 cashmere sweaters, we're confident that these VIPs have exerted considerable sway over how we think, look, and act.

1 David Geffen
What does $4 billion-plus buy for a Hollywood entertainment powerhouse? Your name on UCLA's medical school; great American art (Pollock, de Kooning, Johns); and headline-making influence over Democratic presidential politics: When Geffen supported and later dissed Hillary earlier this year, the fur flew between the candidates' camps. 'If you're his enemy, you might as well kill yourself,' Howard Rosenman once told The New York Times. And to think it all began in the William Morris Agency mailroom.

2 Anderson Cooper
Anointed an 'emo-anchor' by The New York Observer for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the rise of Anderson Cooper heralded the simultaneous demise of the Dan Rather-Tom Brokaw era of dry efficiency. Despite an unfortunate side trip into reality TV in 2001 as host of ABC's late, unlamented The Mole, his instincts have served him well: His annual salary at CNN was reportedly doubled this year, from $2 million to $4 million.

3 Ellen DeGeneres
With over 2.4 million viewers on a daily basis, The Ellen DeGeneres Show is an essential stop for any celebrity peddling their wares, and her breakthrough gig at the Oscars only elevated her Hollywood stature. The fact that seemingly everyone loves an out-and-proud lesbian makes her powerful'that and the $65 million she's reportedly worth.

4 Tim Gill
Gill is the country's biggest gay political donor and 'the nexus of an aggressive new force in national politics,' according to a major story in The Atlantic. After founding and making his fortune at publishing software giant Quark, Gill moved on to philanthropy; in January he launched the Gill Action Fund. His guiding strategy: Giving to many key local and state candidates is more cost-effective than large donations to a few national candidates.

5 Barney Frank
When the Democrats took over control of the House and Senate this year, the outspoken, popular, and frequently quoted Massachusetts Democratic congressman assumed chairmanship of the House Committee on Financial Services. See the extended profile on page 58.

6 Rosie O'Donnell
The View is much better since O'Donnell took over as moderator last fall. Her opinionated stances and battles with the Donald have fanned a huge ratings rise. Plus, her R Family Vacations have elevated the world of gay travel.

7 The New York Times Gay Mafia Richard Berke, Ben Brantley, Frank Bruni, Stuart Elliot, Adam Nagourney, Stefano Tonchi, Eric Wilson
Yes, there really is a queer cabal in the Eastern elite media, and it works on West 43rd Street in New York City. Style editor Tonchi, style reporter Wilson, assistant managing editor Berke, national correspondent Nagourney, and advertising columnist Elliot can set agendas in their areas of expertise. In the case of restaurant critic Bruni and theater critic Brantley, the fate of fledgling enterprises rests in their hands. This is one group you don't want to run into in a dark alley.

8 Marc Jacobs
One of the most recognizable names in fashion, Jacobs helms his own label and is also artistic director for Louis Vuitton. His empire extends beyond clothing (including his acclaimed spring shows in New York, London, and Paris) with new fragrances for Coty, home decor for Waterford, and watches. For his opulent holiday ball last December, he arrived disguised as a pigeon.

9 Andrew Tobias
He's not just a personal finance guru (The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need) and memoirist (The Best Little Boy in the World), he's the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and a major fund-raiser for the party.

10 Brian Graden
As president of entertainment for MTV Networks' music channels, Graden oversees the programming on those arbiters of youth culture MTV, CMT, MTV2, and VH1. Since taking the reins at MTV in 1997, MTV has been the number 1 basic-cable network in the advertiser-coveted age 12-24 demographic, and after adding VH1 to his responsibilities in 2002, ratings have risen there an astonishing 95%. He championed the ever-expanding Logo'now in over 26 million homes'and serves as its president as well.

11 Jann Wenner
The 61-year-old founder of Rolling Stone magazine has traveled the quintessentially baby-boomer path from counterculture to worldly success. As his company's flagship magazine moves into its fifth decade, the media mogul continues to shape Us Weekly into a very different kind of pop-culture tastemaker.

12 Andrew Sullivan
An old-school conservative who backed Kerry in 2004 and an HIV-positive avowed Catholic advocate for same-sex marriage, Sullivan appears contradictory at first. A frequent guest on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show, the consistently controversial Sullivan, his books, and his blog, the Daily Dish, on The Atlantic Online, are read by lefties and righties alike.

13 Suze Orman
The personal-finance TV personality and best-selling author is worth more than $30 million. Interviewed in The New York Times Magazine earlier this year, she admitted it's 'killing' her that when she dies her partner 'is going to lose 50% of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa.' Which is why we all need to find The Courage to Be Rich'the concept, if not her book.

14 Joe Solmonese
As president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the country's largest gay rights organizations (650,000 members), Solmonese is the go-to guy for media sound bites on hot-button topics like same-sex marriage, Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington's use of the f word'and a now-infamous Snickers commercial.

15 Fred Hochberg
Son of tchotchke queen Lillian Vernon, Hochberg is a major Democratic Party donor and the dean of Milano, the New School for Management and Urban Policy. He served as President Bill Clinton's acting head of the Small Business Administration, a cabinet-level rank.

16 Christine Quinn
She's the first woman and first out person to hold New York City's second most powerful post'speaker of the city council. If she continues on her current trajectory, she could break those same precedents as mayor.

17 Perez Hilton
The alter ego of 28-year-old snarkmeister Mario Lavandeira is the subject of both lawsuits and fawning profiles. He has reignited the outing debate (witness Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris) and has set his sights on Dominic Monaghan, Queen Latifah, and Ricky Martin. But his true power lies in the fact that his frequent targets, like Sienna Miller ('Sluttyienna') and Lindsay Lohan ('Firecrotch'), still beg for his good favor.

18 Scott Rudin
At this year's Oscars, The Queen, Notes on a Scandal, and Venus all got nods; they also all had Rudin as either a producer or executive producer. Coincidence? Not when your r'sum' includes The Hours, Clueless, The Truman Show, In & Out, and The First Wives Club.

19 John Aravosis
How does one follow up StopDrLaura.com? The founder of AmericaBlog.com single-handedly launched campaigns against Mary Cheney's hypocrisy (Dear-
Mary.com), the White House (outing Jeff Gannon), and Microsoft (it quickly reversed its embrace of antigay legislation). See the extended profile on page 60.

20 Sheila Kuehl
After becoming the first out person to be elected to the California legislature in 1994, Kuehl went on to become the first woman speaker pro tempore of the assembly in 1997. Now a respected state senator, Kuehl is a champion for women's reproductive rights, gender nondiscrimination, victims' rights, environmental preservation, and LGBT rights. And where the country's most populous state leads, other states follow.

21 James B. Stewart
If you know anything about finance, you know Stewart, the former Page One editor at The Wall Street Journal, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on insider trading and the 1987 market upheaval helped shape the era's news coverage. Author of eight books, including best sellers DisneyWar, Blood Sport, Den of Thieves, and Blind Eye, he is a regular contributor to SmartMoney.com and The New Yorker.

22 Nick Denton
Former business journalist Nick Denton got to the blog party late (in 2002), but the snark-infested waters of his empire (14 sites and counting, including Gawker, Fleshbot, Wonkette, and Defamer) have proved remarkably inviting, generating 100 million'plus page views a month by early this year. Though cagey about exact figures, he was happy enough to confirm, when pressed, that he was worth 'millions.'

23 Tom Ford
With the April launch of both his highly anticipated menswear collection and 9,600-square-foot flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City, design giant Tom Ford continues to charge into his post-Gucci future. A guest art director stint for Vanity Fair and a bared-buttock photo spread in W magazine have also kept his notoriety factor high.

24 Nate Berkus
The Chicago-based interior designer became a household name when Oprah Winfrey began to regularly feature him on her show. Now with a line at Linens 'n Things, a best-selling book (Home Rules), and numerous appearances in O magazine and on Oprah's radio show, he's ready to accessorize the world.

25 Adam Moss
The former wunderkind editor of The New York Times Magazine (and later 'cultural czar' of the paper), now pushing 50, has reinvented New York magazine as the stylish, smart, playful weekly the city always deserved, notching up a string of awards, including seven nominations in this year's National Magazine Awards. It kills us, however, that his employer still doesn't offer domestic-partner benefits, making New York less progressive than Rupert Murdoch's New York Post.

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