Pride at its original core has never been about white, cis-gender gay men. A quick look at queer history reminds us that it has frequently been the more marginalized, POC, trans, and non-binary folks that have spoke out the loudest and stood on the frontlines. Before that, though, let’s do a quick lesson about some non-binary gender identities, in case you need a refresher.
Genderfluid refers to someone who does not identify with any fixed gender, as in it can change whenever, however they want. Agender refers to someone who does not identify with any gender, ever. Genderqueer refers to someone who doesn’t believe in conventional gender distinctions and identifies with neither male nor female, both, or a combination of male and female genders. Gender neutral refers to someone who doesn’t feel that either male or female suit them. Finally, non-binary refers is the catchall for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. It can be easy to get mixed up so be sure to ask and do your research, because when it comes to gender the worst thing you can do is make assumptions.
Note: For safe and inclusive measure I’ll be referring to everyone as “they.”
Photo: London's Victoria and Albert Museum
1. Ruby Rose (genderfluid)
Ruby Rose has, in many ways, become the mainstream face of genderfluidity. After bursting out onto the scene with Orange is the New Black, Rose has been a loud voice not only for non-binary gender identities but also for environmental protection through veganism.
“For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So I’m somewhere in the middle, which—in my perfect imagination—is like having the best of both sexes.”
2. Angel Haze (agender)
Rapper and singer Angel Haze won’t let the gender binary keep them down. Their boldness in speaking their truth is matched only by their immense talent—because being a non-binary POC is VERY different than being non-binary and white.
“I don’t allow gender to guide or manipulate anything that I am interested in.”
3. Miley Cyrus (gender neutral)
Miley Cyrus’ journey with the queer community is like a rollercoaster. One minute Miley is an inclusive, homeless youth supporting, warrior, and the next they’re turning their back on QPOC by distancing themselves from “vulgar” hip-hop music—y’know, the same music and culture that they used when the world was bored with them. One thing that has remained the same—and hopefully won’t change as Miley transforms again—is their stance against selecting a traditional gender role.
“I went to the LGBTQ center here in L.A., and I started hearing these stories. I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female. Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough, but vulnerable and feminine, but masculine. And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life.”
4. Alok-Vaid Menon (non-binary, transfemme)
Alok-Vaid Menon is a non-binary, transfemme performance artist who commonly breaks social media with their touching, hard-hitting posts about the realities of non-binary genders. One can’t explain these posts—they have to be read directly from Alok to be understood. The truth they speak is at times inspiring and other times heartbreaking—but, regardless, it’s always necessary and important.
“I wasn’t born in the wrong body. I was born in the wrong world.”
5. Jaden Smith (genderfluid)
Jaden Smith made headlines when they dared to wear a piece of clothing that wasn’t assigned to males—a skirt to be specific. Jaden refused to let the haters keep them down and instead continued fighting gender norms, presenting a beautiful confidence to youth all over the world who admire the actor.
“I don’t see man clothes and woman clothes, I just see scared people and comfortable people.”
6. Amandla Stenberg (non-binary)
Amandla Stenberg has been preaching truth ever since they took on cultural appropriation and black hair a few years ago. Since then, Amandla has risen to the top as a feminist hero to folks across the web for their thoughtful ideologies and astute observations about the bullshit norms pervading our world.
“I tend to believe that gender… doesn’t actually exist.”
7. Elly Jackson from Le Roux (non-binary)
Elly Jackson, the lead singer of the electro pop band Le Roux, identifies as non-binary. The androgynous singer refused to identify with any gender which, in mainstream music, can be a tough sell. Nevertheless they didn’t sell out. You might not have seen might of Elly lately, but who doesn’t love a good comeback story?
“I don’t feel like I’m male or female.”
8. Courtney Act (genderqueer)
The RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 runner-up has been a ray of sunshine since their time on the show. They’ve been big on starting conversations about gender and politics, and feelings and ideologies. Always present, always positive, and never one to quit, Courtney is one drag queen who isn’t all about reading and having fun at other’s expense—and that’s nice.
“I’ve just been having fun this last year, really discovering the grey area and not needing to fit into a box.”
9. Pete Townshend (non-binary)
Pete Townshend was non-binary long before the term became accessible to people. The singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist for The Who, refuses to be labeled as just a man. It’s important that we recognize folks who were non-binary a decade or more ago because the fight was much different then.
“I know how it feels to be a woman because I am a woman, and I won’t be classified as just a man.”
11. Prince (genderfluid)
Prince was ahead of their time when it came to genderfluidity. They wrote their own rules—as they did with most things—and did pretty much whatever they wanted. Do you want to know the best part? Prince being true to themselves was able to be an absolute sex icon to people all over the world. Proof that you don’t have to subscribe to traditional gender roles to be desirable.
“I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand.”
12. Jinkx Monsoon (non-binary)
Another RuPaul’s Drag Race queen makes the list—except Jinkx Monsoon came away with the crown. The season 5 winner doesn’t identify with any gender and instead prides themselves on being a kindhearted, vulnerable, and hilarious drag queen. Their road to victory, standing alone against their competitors, still inspires folks till this day.
“I’ve never identified as fully male. I’ve always identified as more gender fluid or gender ambiguous, but I never knew the vocabulary to explain it for myself.”