'I'm doing the best I fucking can, you know?' Adam Lambert asks, as if there's any way to satisfy all his critics or fans, none of whom even knew his name a year ago. In 2009, he catapulted from Wicked chorus boy to American Idol cover boy, all before his debut album even had a track list. For Rolling Stone he dallied with a snake; in Details he got frisky with a naked woman. 'I'm the same guy doing the same thing on a larger scale,' he says now. 'I've always been an entertainer.'
Lambert, 27, was a rare catch for Idol: a professional performer. 'I've lived in L.A. for eight years,' he says. 'It's about making a good TV show. I just wanted to be really careful that it didn't turn into a fucking pageant. I can sing my face off. All this other stuff is part of a personality, a persona.' During the show, Lambert's strategy was to play hot and cold, camping it up one week and dressing down the next. 'To me, it's not that different,' he says. 'I'm just wearing a suit.' But when photos of him kissing an ex-boyfriend made the media rounds, Lambert freaked out. 'I was like, 'Great, that's gonna fuck things up.' It was the first time since I'd come out of the closet at 18 that I had to think about it.' He confirmed the pictures were real but didn't explicitly say he was gay until after the finale. 'I didn't want to acknowledge it as a mistake or something I was ashamed of'I'm not. It's part of who I am, but because our nation is the way it is, it's an announcement. If I lose some fans, fuck it. I need to be happy too.'
And though Lambert's comfortable speaking his mind with industry suits, navigating a new relationship with boyfriend Drake LaBry scares him. 'I've only been in love twice,' he says. 'I have a lot of life experience, but I don't know shit about love.'
Wendy Melvoin, Jon Ginoli, Lisa Coleman & Matt Alber
Formerly of Prince's '80s band, the Revolution, guitarist Melvoin (bottom, left) and keyboardist Coleman (bottom, right) released their album, White Flags of Winter Chimneys, last December and came out on Out.com this year. The duo (stage name: Wendy & Lisa) also compose the scores for the TV series Heroes, Mercy, and Nurse Jackie.
Three years after forming Pansy Division in 1991, guitarist and lead singer Ginoli (top, left) opened for Green Day, and 15 years later he is as prolific as ever, delivering a new album, a documentary, and a memoir, all in the past year.
YouTube watchers swooned last winter when they caught Alber's (top, right) 'End of the World' video, a moody, Mad Men''style clip in which the musician waltzes with and kisses a handsome man in a barbershop. The former Chanticleer member released his solo debut, Hide Nothing, in 2008.
Frani Bruni, Ash Fulk & Jean-Marc Houmard
The former New York Times chief restaurant critic's memoir, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, came out this summer. With humor, Bruni (left) sheds light on male body issues that are pervasive but rarely written about.
'I've met chefs that came from culinary school and went straight into nice restaurants, but they couldn't sling 150 eggs a service,' says Fulk (center), who considered his diner experience his secret weapon on Top Chef Las Vegas. Fulk is the sous chef at New York's Trestle on Tenth.
Being able to dance next to Grace Jones or sip cocktails with Halston was part of the reason to be in New York in the 1980s, when a young law firm intern got a night job as a busboy at Indochine. Fast forward to 2009 to find Houmard (right) in charge and celebrating the restaurant's 25th anniversary with a book of photos and recollections by celebrities like Anna Wintour, Madonna, and Raquel Welch.
Janis Ian: The Outsider
Ian's journey is really a series of milestones. She made her recording debut at the age of 15 in 1966 with 'Society's Child,' a Top 40 single about interracial teen dating that many radio stations wouldn't touch. Her classic, Grammy-winning 'At Seventeen' was the first song ever performed on Saturday Night Live and still remains one of the most astute, heartfelt tales of outsider angst and growing up ever written (listen for it in Mean Girls).
Last year, 15 years after Ian came out on her album Breaking Silence, 'At Seventeen' was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In September, Columbia/Legacy released The Essential Janis Ian, a two-disc anthology spanning Ian's four-decade-long career and coinciding with her U.S. tour and the paperback release of her book, Society's Child: My Autobiography.
Stacy Shane, Jon Marans, Jonathan Silverstein & Michael Urie: Drama Club
Not that anyone was suffering from Milk fatigue last year, but it stood to reason that perhaps theater audiences weren't necessarily thirsty for another gay historical hero story. But after Pulitzer Prize'nominated playwright Marans (second from left) (1996's Old Wicked Songs) debuted The Temperamentals, the show had to move to larger venues twice and its run received two extensions due to its popularity. Following the pre-Stonewall history of the gay rights movement, The Temperamentals feels neither preachy nor didactic and is a wholly engrossing drama that moves far beyond the category of 'gay theater.'
Delicately directed by Keen Company resident director Silverstein (second from right), the show was shepherded by first-time producer Shane (left), from the readings Marans began staging four years ago (with a pre'Ugly Betty Michael Urie) to the fully formed production it would become with the help of co-producer Daryl Roth. It will reopen off-Broadway this winter, and there are already loud whispers about transfers to everywhere from Broadway, Los Angeles, and even the big screen.
The show also proved there's more to Urie (far right) than the adorably obnoxious character Marc he plays on ABC's Ugly Betty. The Julliard graduate was one of the first actors to commit to The Temperamentals, playing Austrian fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, who would go on to design the topless bikini. Resisting the temptation to turn his character into caricature, Urie surprised short-sighted audiences and critics alike with his extremely measured performance.
Guido: The Hair Apparent
As a child growing up in the English resort of Bournemouth, Guido Palau was fascinated by the big New Romantic coifs worn by the hordes of teenagers down from London. Although his hairdressing debut at a Vidal Sassoon salon in London was short-lived''The big boss said, 'Look, we don't really think hairdressing is for you' ''Guido is now feted as the world's most influential hair stylist and an indispensable part of the theater of fashion, including runway shows for Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and Calvin Klein.
Jordan Roth, Kim Stolz, Fred Davie, Assi Azar, Tina Landrau & Chad Griffin: Study Hall
(Counter-clockwise, from top left) As the new president of Jujamcyn Theaters, Broadway's third largest owner/operator, 34-year-old producer Roth has many expectations to meet, but with a proven track record of discovering recent hits like Spring Awakening and Grey Gardens and a history of providing homes for shows including this year's Hair, Fela!, and Finian's Rainbow, his promotion is the theater world's gain.
While Stolz may be indebted to Tyra Banks for her big break'she competed on the 2005 season of America's Next Top Model'she has since proven she's more than just a pretty reality-television face. She's appeared in campaigns for American Eagle and Brooklyn Industries and has worked as a reporter for the Huffington Post and MTV, for whom she interviewed Barack Obama.
Davie's work has taken him from New York City government to the Ford Foundation and this year to the Arcus Foundation, whose mission is 'to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity, and race.' In February, President Obama named the Yale Divinity School graduate to the White House's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Azar is the host of Israel's Big Brother, and six years after he came out the Ryan Seacrest of the Holy Land says he has yet to experience prejudice. So when a gunman stormed a gay youth center in Tel Aviv earlier this year, killing two people, it was a blast of cold harsh reality that made Israel feel as claustrophobic as the Big Brother house.
In October, Landau was lured back to Broadway after a nine-year absence, when she was offered the chance to helm Superior Donuts, the latest play by Tracy Letts, Pulitzer Prize''winning author of August: Osage County. Next, she will write and direct an adaptation of the Grimm Brothers' Sleeping Beauty.
As founding partner of political and communications strategy firm Griffin | Schake, Griffin combines his extensive experience'he was the youngest staffer to serve in the West Wing'with his enviable Rolodex to effect change. Last fall he secured a $100,000 donation from Brad Pitt for the No on 8 Campaign. Griffin is also board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and served as executive producer on Kirby Dick's Outrage, a 2009 documentary about closeted politicians.
Kehinde Wiley & Bebe Zahara Benet: Life Drawing Class
Since finishing an MFA at Yale in 2001, the New York'based artist Wiley (left) has shot to meteoric critical and commercial success, fusing highbrow art and hip-hop culture by recreating classic late-Renaissance portraits with young men plucked from city streets. In September, his show 'Black Light' debuted at Deitch Projects, following the publication of a monograph of the same name.
Nea Marshall Kudi's drag persona, Bebe Zahara Benet (right) was born when, while working a Parisian runway, the male model was asked to fill in for female models who'd gone MIA. Raised in the West African Republic of Cameroon, Marshall took the pole position on RuPaul's Drag Race in March and is preparing to release his first EP.
Mauricio and Roger Padilha, Thakoon Panichgul & Joe Zee: Best Dressed
Mauricio and Roger (far left and left) were 15 and 12 years old, respectively, when they saw a clip of a Stephen Sprouse fashion show on the nightly news in 1984 and became instantly transfixed. Twenty-five years later, the brothers, who have run the fashion-PR powerhouse MAO Public Relations since 1997, possess the largest private collection of work by the seminal artist and designer, and this year they published The Stephen Sprouse Book, a curated selection of images and artifacts timed to coincide with a Deitch Projects retrospective that went up in January.
At 26, Thai-born women's wear designer Panichugul (second from right) has the ear of two of the most powerful women in fashion (perhaps the world). Anna Wintour heavily featured his reimagined white shirt collaboration with CFDA, Vogue, and the Gap in both The September Issue and her September issue. Thakoon is also heavily featured in Michelle Obama's closet: The first lady most recently wore a floral dress from the 2010 resort collection at the otherwise bleak G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.
As creative director for Elle magazine since 2007, Zee's byline should trail nearly every woman wearing high-waisted pants and chunky earrings (both recent trends he predicted), and Justin Timberlake, whom Zee (right) convinced to abandon street fashion for something tweedier. Though a stylist to the stars, you can experience Zee directly on MTV's The City, a show whose high-fashion drama wouldn't be possible if not for his foundational work.
Mirah & Matt Morris: The Club Kids
Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn'better known simply as Mirah (left)'stormed the Northwestern indie music scene in 2000, and since then the singer-songwriter has done nothing but donate herself to an eclectic collection of musical causes, from her own solo LPs to collaborations with the Black Cat Orchestra and remix whizzes like Guy Sigsworth.
A former Mickey Mouse Club kid, Morris (right) has toured with the Indigo Girls and written songs for Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Timberlake, but he is destined for the spotlight. The singer's debut album, When Everything Breaks Open (out in January), gleans inspiration from pop, funk, and folk.
Tina Mabry: The Fighter
'By publicly exposing my past hurdles, I am reminded that I am far from alone in my adversities,' Mabry says of mining her childhood in the Deep South to bring her film Mississippi Damned to the big screen. The writer and director's soul searching served her well: This year she earned the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature at Outfest and the Audience Award for Narrative Feature Film at Newfest.
Chaz Bono: Most Likely to Reinvent
The only child of Cher and Sonny Bono has a long history in queer activism. After coming out in the April 1995 issue of The Advocate, Bono went on to write for the magazine, serve as a high-profile spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, become entertainment media director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and pen two books centered on LGBT issues. After several years under the radar, Bono broke news in June that he had begun FTM gender reassignment surgery.
Michael Sucsy & Matt Tyrnauer: A/V Club
In April, HBO premiered writer-director Sucsy's (left) Grey Gardens, a much-anticipated adaptation of the 1975 documentary, which chronicled Edith Beale and her daughter Little Edie as they languished in a squalid Hamptons mansion. It proved a huge success at the Emmys, with a staggering 17 nominations and six wins, including Outstanding Lead Actress for Jessica Lange and Outstanding Made for TV Movie.
Tyrnauer (right), a 16-year veteran of Vanity Fair, employed his reporting skills and taste for haute culture this spring for his directorial debut, the pitch-perfect documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor. As much about the legendary designer's 50-year relationship with business and romantic partner Giancarlo Giammetti as his brilliant career, the film garnered first-rate reviews from, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, and Time, which declared it 'flawless.'
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Most Likely to End Up on the News
Just over a year ago, Jane Velez-Mitchell succeeded HLN (formerly CNN Headline News) host Glenn Beck when he moved over to Fox News. Not only was the right wing mascot replaced by a lesbian vegan animal activist recovering alcoholic, but viewership for the time slot quickly shot up 74% over Beck's draw a year earlier. In her new book, iWant: My Journey From Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life, the 53-year-old journalist shares some hard-won wisdom. 'We all want peace,' she says. 'But it's not 'out there'! Peace begins within us and is revealed in our daily actions.'
The Hetrick-Martin Institute and Harvey Milk High School: The Real Class of 2009
Thirty years ago, Emery Hetrick, a psychiatrist, and his partner Damien Martin, a professor at New York University, founded the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth in response to a particularly brutal attack on a gay teenager.
Today, the organization they founded, renamed the Hetrick-Martin Institute in their honor, is still going strong under the direction of Thomas Krever. In 1985, the Hetrick-Martin Institute founded the Harvey Milk High School, with two classrooms and about a dozen students. Although the school was designated a fully functioning public transfer high school in 2003, it continues to share building space with HMI, its former trustee, and has grown to seven classrooms and about 100 students, a large number of whom are LGBT youth who have been able to flourish in a compassionate and secure environment.
Currently more than 1,000 people attend the after-school programs, yet in spite of a 30% increase in the number of people seeking the services of HMI, Krever describes the last six months as 'some of the most difficult times this organization has ever had to endure. Right now, simply being able to survive is an accomplishment.' You can help HMI by visiting HMI.org.
Students pictured, clockwise from top left: Luis Oyola, Beatriz Henriquez, Luis Alcantara, Nick Gilliam, Daphne Angel Wynn, Angie Gonzalez, Markell Wade, Alyssia Thompson, Marisol Barbosa, and Esti Ocequeda.
Ilene Chaiken, Bryan Safi, Cat Cora & Anthony Woods: The Brat Pack
Until Chaiken (far left), TV land was almost entirely devoid of lesbian characters. Interested viewers had to seek, second-guess, and often come up empty-handed. The creator, writer, and producer of The L Word, which concluded its final season in March, gave women a panoply of lesbian characters living rich lives. Without pussyfooting, her raw narratives proved irresistible for gay and straight audiences alike. Her new reality series, The Real L Word: Los Angeles, debuts in 2010.
As the creator-host of Current TV's biweekly segment 'That's Gay,' Safi (second from left) who is also a staff writer on Ellen, uses humor to raise awareness of homophobia in popular culture. Fearless in that he takes on equally homophobic gay-endorsed gay pandering ('I love my gays!') and hip-hop's use of 'no homo,' Safi takes folks to task without preaching.
Cora (second from left) has never bristled at being told a woman's place is in the kitchen. The Food Network's first'and only'female Iron Chef has been whipping up Greek-influenced offerings with a Southern twist since she was a child, and by 15 she had already drafted a restaurant business plan. In September, Cora opened her first sit-down eatery, Kouzzina, at the Walt Disney World Resort's Disney's BoardWalk. She and her wife, Jennifer, have four sons.
Woods (far right), an Iraq war veteran, launched an energetic and historic campaign to become the first openly gay African-American elected to Congress. He may have lost his bid to represent California's 10th congressional district (in the East Bay Area near San Francisco) this fall, but political heavyweights like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln lost early elections, and there's no doubt Woods is a rising star in the Democratic firmament.
Isis King, Liz Brixlus, Linda Wallem, Sarah Schulman & Helen Molesworth: The Rebel Girls
She didn't quite make it to the halfway point of the 11th cycle of America's Next Top Model last fall, but as the first transgender contestant on Tyra Banks's model-making machine, King (far left), now 24, became one of the most visible trans people on television in the past year: She went on to share her journey through gender reassignment surgery'and even accept a marriage proposal'on The Tyra Banks Show.
Cabaret host' turned 20-year television vet Wallem (second from left) (Cybill, That '70s Show) and former poetry professor Brixius (center) teamed up to create Showtime's Nurse Jackie, which they describe as 'a very savvy TV show with a very poetic heart.' Not bad words to describe their lead actress, Edie Falco, either. The duo share producing and show-running duties, weaving gay and lesbian storylines into the series effortlessly, without the stunt-gaying that plagues network dramas.
Schulman (second from right) had an exceptional year. The writer-historian published both her novel The Mere Future and the nonfiction book Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences and won the 2009 Kessler Award for her contribution to GLBTQ studies. She also co-coordinated The ACT UP Oral History Project, a collection of video interviews with surviving members, which premiered this fall in the exhibition 'ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987'1993.'
Molesworth (right) has been the chief curator of contemporary art at the Harvard University Art Museums since 2007. This October, she co-curated 'ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987'1993,' the retrospective of more than 70 politically charged posters and other visual media from the watershed period in the gay rights movement, which included Schulman's exhibitions.
Molly Schiot & Tim Palen: Most Valuable Players
Few people could make a mesmerizing stop-action film armed only with 1,200 marshmallow Peeps; even fewer could turn that into a full-time career. Director/artist Schiot, 29, has done just that, producing offbeat commercials for Nokia, Converse, and Trident, and music videos for Sleater-Kinney and Mark Ronson.
Renegade marketer Palen knows how to push buttons. The copresident of theatrical marketing for Lionsgate Films, which has produced such art house fare as Monster's Ball, Away From Her, and Precious but is perhaps best known for shocker gems like the Saw and Hostel series, has made a career of freaking people out with his incredibly imaginative marketing campaigns. An accomplished photographer, Palen often uses his own pictures for his films' iconic promotional posters, like Saw II's, in which the Roman numeral two was represented by two severed fingers.
Ongina: Prom Queen
When RuPaul's Drag Race premiered in February on Logo, the tiny-framed, bald-headed Ongina immediately stood out from the pack of immense drag queens in towering coiffures. Known by day as Ryan Ong Palao, the L.A.-based visual merchandiser and Philippines native, 27, didn't win the competition. But he did win hearts'and national attention'when, in an emotional moment after winning a challenge that would make him spokesperson for the MAC AIDS Fund, he revealed he'd been living with HIV for the past two years.
Liz Spayd: The Newshoud | Cathy Renna: The Go-between | Kerry Eleveld: The Scribe
As news websites were growing and newspapers struggling, longtime I editor and reporter Liz Spayd (left) decided to move over to the electronic side. 'You either get dragged by the horse or you grab the reins.' During her 21 years at the newspaper, where she eventually became the top national news editor, she oversaw 'the rush of history''the 2000 presidential vote recount, 9/11, two wars, and more. Of the current state of the industry, she says, 'These aren't exactly the salad days of newsrooms, and even in the best of times it's not easy trying to corral a bunch of journalists. But at least we get to wake up every day fighting for something we believe in.'
'The most exciting part of becoming the Washington correspondent for The Advocate is going to White House briefings,' says journalist Kerry Eleveld (right), who made the move to the nation's capital earlier this year. 'I get to ask some tough questions to try and decipher what's happening, what isn't, and why.' Eleveld regularly offers her political insight to MSNBC, CNN, and the BBC, has received an Excellence in News Writing Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and was the only reporter from an LGBT outlet to get a sit-down interview with Obama during his campaign.
People may say that size doesn't matter, but Cathy Renna's (center) got one of the biggest set of contacts in the communications business. After 14 years with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, where she was the group's primary spokesperson, Renna opened her own shop. 'Our clients come to put their issues on the map and change the way people think about the community,' she says. As a longtime activist, she believes 'our community's biggest obstacle continues to be visibility of our full diversity and complexity. We have made progress but still have a long way to go.'
Elizabeth Streb: The Punk
If modern dance world has a William Blake'an artist unbound by physics, untainted by reason, unabashed in the audacity of vision'it's Streb. From her Williamsburg warehouse studio, she has concocted a new grammar of movement, one in which dancers fall from great heights and pop up, one in which gravity is only a suggestion and swinging cement bricks beg a sadistic game of Frogger. With leaps and bounds and high impact, Streb has redefined'as much as Alvin Ailey, Fokine, and Merce Cunningham before her'the limits of human movement.
Christopher Sieber: Drama King
A dozen years after his Broadway debut as Prince Agis alongside Betty Buckley in Triumph of Love, the St. Paul native has only been titularly demoted'first in 2004 when he was nominated for a Tony for his role as Sir Galahad in Monty Python's Spamalot and this year when he racked up his second nomination for playing Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical. The six-foot-three actor may be unrecognizable to fans of his sitcom gigs as father to the Olsen twins in Two of a Kind and as John Benjamin Hickey's husband in It's All Relative: He spends the entirety of his Shrek performance in a pageboy haircut and on his knees.
Josh David, Charles Renfro & Robert Hammond: The Young Botanists
Since it opened in June, the High Line park, the strip of repurposed elevated railroad track that cuts through Manhattan's Meatpacking District, has ushered in a new era of public spaces in New York. As the wild grasses grow on the elevated urban prairie, civic pride blossoms with it. But 10 years ago, the park existed solely in the vision of two men, David (left), a writer, and Hammond (right), a painter. By ceaseless agitation, organization, and fundraising, the two enlisted the help of celebrities (Harvey Keitel, Martha Stewart), designers (Diane von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein), and finally the city. Translating this seemingly quixotic vision into a reality fell to Renfro (center) and his architectural firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and James Corner Field Operations. Their vision of the abandoned tracks reborn'threaded with flowers and peaceful glades, an amphitheater looking up 10th Avenue and wooden lounge chairs facing the Hudson'turned David and Hammond's dream into a reality beyond what they could have imagined.
Nick Cave: Most Artistic
Nick Cave uses twigs, sequins, buttons, and even human hair to construct his 'soundsuits''elaborately detailed works of art inspired by Haitian costumes, voodoo flags, religious vestments, and more unexpected references like pop culture icons Leigh Bowery and RuPaul. By 'creating a creature that's threatening but seductive,' the Chicago-based artist'who has displayed his pieces in solo and group shows around the world'has been able to explore significant cultural moments like the Rodney King beating through the lens of his own personal experiences.
Phillip Keene: The All-American
A surveillance expert on TNT's The Closer, Phillip Keene's character, Buzz Watson, supplies the footage Kyra Sedgwick needs to nail L.A.'s scum. Keene hosted the series Home prior to joining the crime television drama, which, now in its fifth season, is ad-supported cable television's number 1 series of all time.
Malindo Lo: Class Princess
In September 2009, Lo, the former managing editor of AfterEllen.com, published her first novel, Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, in which 12-year-old Ash falls not for a prince but for Kaisa, the king's huntress. 'We want to fall in love with the woman of our dreams just as much as any straight girl dreams of Prince Charming,' she has said.
Dan Choi: Newsmaker of the Year
It almost didn't happen at all. When Lt. Choi was first approached by a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show for a segment on Knights Out, a group for gay West Point students and alumni, he initially declined, thinking someone else should go. But he did appear on the show'and the audio mysteriously dropped out shortly after he said 'I am gay' and explained that those three words could end his career under 'don't ask, don't tell.' He came on again the next night, and though he was articulate and moving, the Arab linguist didn't stand out as an exceptional speaker.
Fast forward to the National Equality March in October. He came to the podium in full uniform (he was kicked out of the military in May) with a large piece of duct tape over his mouth, turned and saluted the crowd, then ripped off the tape. His five-minute speech was built around the theme 'Love is worth it!' which became a dramatic refrain. By now, he had graduated from spokesman to orator, with other compelling passages like 'The era and the time for asking is over'. I am telling, I am telling, I am telling. Will you tell with me?'
He's been asked to run for office, but for now, between speeches at gay rights events, he remains active with Knights Out. 'We're not going to wait for someone else to act,' he says. Choi has paid a price for not waiting to tell, but in the process he has made all of us stand up just a bit taller.
Robert Longbottom: Most Graceful
In October, the director-choreographer introduced Bye Bye Birdie to a new legion of fans with stars Gina Gershon and John Stamos, marking the first time the musical has graced a Broadway stage in nearly 50 years. Longbottom kept much of the original script intact, though he beefed up some of its finer dance numbers (and cast real-life kids instead of adults to play the story's teenagers). He is also directing and choreographing a revival of Dreamgirls, which opened in November at Harlem's Apollo Theater and will tour 13 other cities throughout the year.
Ally of the Year
No pop diva has flexed her muscle for our cause like Cyndi Lauper. For her True Colors tours, the singer has teamed with performers like Rufus Wainwright, the Gossip, the B-52's, and Wanda Sykes to raise funds for LGBT advocacy groups and speak out about gay rights, particularly the passage of a hate crimes bill that would make attacks based on sexual orientation a federal crime. 'We had the civil rights movement in the '60s, women had to fight in the '70s, and it's just insane to think in 2009 there's still a group of Americans recognized as 'less than' the rest of us,' Lauper says.
This year, her True Colors Fund partnered with Broadway Impact to launch True Colors Cabaret, a monthly series of New York City LGBT fundraisers featuring stars like Hair's Gavin Creel and Glee's Lea Michele. Perhaps Lauper's most laudable achievement, though, is the True Colors Residence. The first permanent supportive housing facility for LGBT youth in New York State, the residence, located in Central Harlem, will provide 30 new studio apartments, educational services, and job training to homeless young people between the ages of 18 and 24.
'Kids are coming out in greater numbers as they see themselves accepted and represented on TV and in movies,' Lauper explains, 'but they're still being kicked out of their homes or running away and living on the streets. We need to make sure we're taking care of them. This is the next generation of the LGBT community.'
Arthur Laurents: The Headmaster
The venerable Broadway legend, who wrote the book for Gypsy and West Side Story as well as the screenplays for Rope and The Way We Were, has never been able to bite his tongue about anything, including his homosexuality. Openly gay since the 1950s, he was with his partner, actor and model Tom Hatcher, for 52 years until Hatcher's death in the fall of 2006.
And so it was Hatcher, probably the only person to stand by the famously wrathful Laurents for his entire career, who compelled the 91-year-old to reinvent and restage this year's Broadway box office record-breaker, West Side Story, which continues to gross over $1 million per week. After discovering a WSS script with Hatcher's notations in the margins, suggestions that included the production's most notable change'having the Hispanic gang actually speak Spanish'Laurents remounted the show, though he says switching 'I Feel Pretty' to 'Siento Hermosa' is not the most important adjustment he made. 'The original was about dancing and singing,' he says. 'This West Side Story is about what it was always meant to be about but wasn't. This one is all about love.'
Christopher Bailey: Stylemaker of the Year
The story of how Bailey remade Burberry from sober purveyors of plaid into a byword of sophisticated-but-just-quirky-enough is a textbook example of what all design houses now set out to achieve. The 38-year-old designer'who draws his reference points from cult gay British director Derek Jarman one season and artist David Hockney the next'has helped turn the label into a multibillion-dollar powerhouse. Although he seems to have found new happiness after the untimely death of his longtime partner, Geert Cloet, in 2005 ('There are things you wish you had never had to learn,' he told Out in 2008), his wistful, shy persona often seems more of a piece with his rural Yorkshire upbringing than with the metropolitan world of fashion.
Will Young: Most Likely to Win a Grammy
Long before Adam Lambert there was Will Young, who snatched victory in the debut season of Pop Idol, the British forerunner of the now-global franchise. Young's first single became the fastest-selling debut in U.K. chart history, selling 403,027 copies on its day of release in March 2002. He has had four albums and nine U.K. Top 10 singles in the intervening years, during which he has grown into a graceful, confident neo-soul singer not afraid to embrace his inner gay. His greatest hits album, The Hits, comes out in November.
Neil Patrick Harris: The Golden Boy
You wouldn't have caught Neil Patrick Harris playing the bad boy in high school. The great gay hope of dude-bro comedy split his teen years between the L.A. set of Doogie Howser, M.D. and his Albuquerque residency as school drama geek. 'That was a good clique to be in,' the 36-year-old says now, at the tail end of a year when he hosted telecasts of both the Tony and Emmy awards. 'You were still liked.' He pauses, quirking an eyebrow for his obligatory punchline: 'Which in high school is kind of important.'
Scott Evans & Adamo Ruggiero: The Jocks
Evans (left) sent daytime television fans' jaws dropping and tongues wagging this summer when his character on One Life to Live, Officer Oliver Fish, threw caution, discretion, and the closet door to the wind and declared his feelings for a former frat brother. Part of a family of actors that includes his mother, Lisa and his brother Chris, he rounded out the year with a supporting role in Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Twenty-three-year-old Ruggiero (right), the star of Degrassi: The Next Generation, generated shockwaves within his teen fan base when he came out last year'six years after his character, Marco, charged out of the closet. This summer he leaped to the big screen with roles in Degrassi Goes Hollywood and Make the Yuletide Gay.
Pedro Almodovar: Biggest Flirt
Almodovar's sensual, glittering body of work has made him one of the world's most successful and well-known filmmakers. He has been a novelist, pornographer, cartoonist, and crooner; his films draw on all of these experiences. Over the course of his long career'including 17 films he has cultivated and defined a uniquely gay sensibility: life as outrage, beauty, and passion. Again and again, from the lives of transsexuals to the vagaries of childhood friendships, absurdity crescendoes into comedy. His latest film, Broken Embraces, shot in the style of hard-boiled American noir, further evolves his irresistible oeuvre.
Paul Rudnick, Mark Doty & Nick Burd: Lit Class
'The world can treat you bad and you get hurt, but being from New Jersey, you learn to get over it,' says Rudnick (left) in one of his typical bons mots. The multiplatform talent'New Yorker essays, plays (Jeffrey), movies (In & Out), novels (I'll Take It)'has just published his first collection of essays, I Shudder: and Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey. Highlights include his hilarious visit to a convent to research Sister Act and a piece on his lifelong junk food diet'which may be the secret of his slender appearance at 51.
Doty's risky, searing, and ultimately redemptive poems have earned him a devoted following'and a heap of awards. The first American poet to win the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, in 1995, Doty (center) has published eight books of verse'including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award'and three memoirs, most recently Dog Years, which chronicles the death of his partner from AIDS and the aftermath of 9/11. In September, Doty joined the faculty at Rutgers University.
When Burd's coming-of-age (and coming-out) novel The Vast Fields of Ordinary debuted in May it proved anything but typical'The New York Times hailed it as 'fascinating and dreamy' and 'the best kind of first novel.' An alum of the University of Iowa, the New School, and the indie rock band Burn Disco Burn, 29-year-old Burd (right) is a program manager at the literary/human rights organization PEN American Center and is now at work on a new novel he calls 'a noirish tale about a gay grifter in Recession-era New York City.'
Gavin Creel: The Heartthrob
Last November, the usually sunny star of Broadway's Hair was pissed off. The twice Tony-nominated actor (for Hair as well as 2002's Thoroughly Modern Millie) was having difficulty celebrating Barack Obama's election because he'd also heard that California's Prop 8 had passed. That's when he cofounded Broadway Impact, an organization of people in the theater community committed to fighting for marriage equality. They were able to raise enough money to send 25 busloads of New Yorkers to Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March in October, where he and his Hair cast mates headlined the rally on the Capitol lawn.
Sarah Waters: Most Observant
Gay Victorian fiction could be a hard niche to escape, but London-based novelist Waters has managed to bring her self-described 'lesbo historical romps' into the mainstream with no small amount of critical acclaim. Her fifth novel, The Little Stranger, a ghost story (and her first project without explicitly gay overtures), came out in April and was short-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize, an honor that was bestowed on two of her previous novels, among them Fingersmith, which was also adapted into a BBC series.
Kelly McGillis: The Daydreamer
McGillis's coming out last April created an outsize media storm. The 52-year-old star of Top Gun and The Accused revealed she was a lesbian to SheWired.com, unleashing a torrent of support from around the globe. McGillis, who also starred on The L Word as a closeted army colonel trying a 'don't ask, don't tell' case, emphatically said she is 'done with the man thing.' A sexual icon for millions of straight boys who grew up in the 1980s, McGillis became another iconic example of the significance of sexual honesty later in life. This winter she will star in a U.K. tour of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
Tasha Tilberg: The Lady-killer
The interplay between Tilberg's striking, sophisticated beauty and her bad-girl countenance for starters there's the peekaboo ankh tattoo on her chest and the ring through her septum has kept the Canadian model in high demand since her debut on the cover of W magazine in 1996. A favorite of designers and magazine editors alike, Tilberg has walked for everyone who's anyone, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, and Yohji Yamamoto.
John Glover: The Bad Boy
Best known for his Tony Award'winning turn as twin brothers James and John in Love! Valour! Compassion! and his role as evildoer Lionel Luthor on Smallville, the Emmy-nominated actor popped up in 2009 episodes of Heroes, Numb3rs, and Brothers & Sisters, in which he played the love interest of Ron Rifkin's recently outed character, Saul. However, it was Glover's performance as Lucky in the Broadway revival of Samuel Beckett's existential tragicomedy Waiting for Godot (which also starred Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, and John Goodman) that really wowed us. The experts agreed: Glover earned a Tony nomination. He is currently starring in the Broadway revival of The Royal Family.
Pam Spaulding & Arjan Timmermans: Most Likely to be in the Computer Lab
In just five years, Pam's House Blend has become a go-to blog for readers seeking a progressive take on politics, LGBT and women's rights, and race relations. 'I love reader feedback, including the batshit crazy right,' Spaulding (below, left) says. 'The best way to blunt the hate is to embrace its lunacy, so I display the quotes as badges of honor.'
Dutch-born Timmermans launched his pop music blog, ArjanWrites.com, in 2003. The first-ever credentialed blogger to cover the MTV VMAs and the Grammys, he has remained at the forefront of Internet music journalism by helping break new artists like Lady Gaga, Mika, and R'is'n Murphy, and curating his concert series, Superfra'che.
Marc Cherry: Head Coach
It should come as no surprise that the former assistant to Dixie Carter and head writer of the Golden Girls would go on to create something as deliciously camp and gothic as ABC's Desperate Housewives. Now in its sixth season, it has won eight Emmys and three Golden Globes, and in the show's fifth season, Cherry (right) introduced Wisteria Lane's gay couple Bob and Lee (played by Tuc Watkins and Kevin Rahm, seen here).
Thomas Glave & Vestal McIntyre: The Book Club
With its nameless protagonists, unusual punctuation, poetic breaks, and graphic depictions of genocide and antigay violence, Glave's The Torturer's Wife is about as far as you'll get from a breezy beach read. Nonetheless, the Lambda Literary Award winner's experimental short story collection'which tackles war, slavery, turbulent gay relationships, and HIV'contained some of 2009's most compelling moments in queer literature. Glave (left) is only the second gay African American (after James Baldwin) to win the O. Henry Prize for short fiction.
A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient and former Meatpacking District waiter, 37-year-old McIntyre (right) published his first novel, Lake Overturn, this year (set in mid-'80s small-town Idaho, it was an Out's critic's pick in April). The 37-year-old Idaho native, whose previous collection of short stories, You Are Not the One, was named a New York Times Editors' Choice, is currently at work on a new series of stories he describes as 'a bitchy good-bye letter' to New York City, which he left in 2008 to live with his husband in London.
Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin & Jared Polis: Heads of the Class
Where are our 'fierce advocates?' They're in the United States House of Representatives. Frank, Baldwin, and Polis (left to right) form a powerful, out triumvirate, wielding influence over the economy, social welfare, labor, and education. Frank's was one of few steady hands on the rudder of the failing U.S. economy during the 2008 credit crisis. He helped midwife the bailouts and stimulus package many say were crucial to avoiding a Great Depression redux.
Baldwin, representing Wisconsin's second congressional district and the House's first openly gay woman, has led a progressive offensive, opposing the invasion of Iraq and cosponsoring bills proposing the impeachment of former vice president Dick Cheney and attorney general Alberto Gonzales.
Polis, meanwhile, was elected alongside Barack Obama in November 2008, becoming the first openly gay man elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a freshman. (Frank came out while in office.) The former tech entrepreneur prevailed in a heavily contested Democratic primary fight before going on to handily win Colorado's second congressional district, centered on Boulder. Of course, all three are cosponsors'along with 179 of their colleagues'of House Resolution 1283, which would repeal 'don't ask, don't tell.'
Moises Kaufman: Most Likely to be Backstage
As founder of the Tectonic Theater Project, Venezuelan-born writer and director Kaufman has staged productions of some of the last decade's most dialogue-opening pieces of theater: 1997's Gross Indecency, 2003's I Am My Own Wife, and this year's 33 Variations, which brought Jane Fonda back to the Broadway stage after a 46-year absence.
He's best known, however, for The Laramie Project, the play and HBO movie he and members of Tectonic created after interviewing residents of Matthew Shephard's hometown following his murder in 1998. A decade later, they interviewed the same Laramie residents to create The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later which premiered simultaneously in 150 different theaters in all 50 states and eight different countries on October 12th.
Lee Daniels: Most Likely to Win an Oscar
If Daniels wins best director at this year's Oscars for the devastatingly beautiful Precious as he almost certainly will he will be the first gay African-American to take the honor. The producer of not-so-lightweight films like Monster's Ball and The Woodsman, Daniels is on his way to collecting a trophy case full of awards (the film has already won top prizes at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals) and securing himself a spot alongside directors like Alexander Payne and Ang Lee as a distinctive voice of his generation. The father of 13-year-old twins recognizes that he's shone light on some of the darkest reaches of contemporary society, but he won't rule out anything for the future. He just signed on to helm the big-screen adaptation of Miss Saigon.
James Neiley: Most Fearless
What began as a volunteer position at the queer youth center and advocacy organization Outright Vermont quickly became a crash course'and burgeoning career'in activism for Neiley. In March the 17-year-old was tapped to deliver a speech in front of state legislators who would decide the fate of gay marriage. His impassioned plea went viral on the Internet and, three weeks later, Vermont became the fourth state to give gay nuptials the green light.
Terence Davies: Chair of Humanity
Revered in the United Kingdom, Davies is chiefly known for his two highly autobiographical films, Distant Voice, Still Lives, which won the International Critics Award in Toronto, and The Long Day Closes, as well as his adaptation of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, starring Gillian Anderson and Laura Linney. 'The fact that he hasn't been given the money to make the string of unrealized projects he has gathering dust in his bottom drawer is little short of a national disgrace,' wrote Shane Danielsen in Britain's Guardian newspaper last year. After seeing his most recent movie, Of Time and the City an enthralling ode to Liverpool, his hometown'you'll understand what he means. Somebody, please give this man some money.
Brad Goreski: Most Stylish
With his foppish flair and a bit of finesse, Goreski secured a gig at Vogue straight out of college and then launched himself into a second assistant spot on celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe's team. That job came with a role on Bravo's reality series The Rachel Zoe Project, where, in the last year, the budding young stylist has helped dress Anne Hathaway for the Oscars, met fashion hero John Galliano at Paris Fashion Week, and proven that he's destined to be a star in his own turn.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: Class Clown
On ABC's groundbreaking mockumentary Modern Family, Ferguson plays half of a gay couple that's proving revolutionary for just how typical (albeit hilarious) their struggle with parenthood in the American suburbs comes across. Before the debut of the runaway hit this fall, the 34-year-old Montana native was in stage productions of On the Town, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Hair, and starred on the CBS sitcom The Class and the Fox comedy Do Not Disturb.
Jonsi Birgisson & Alex Somers: Cutest Couple
In 2009 Birgisson (left), the singer-guitarist of acclaimed Icelandic group Sigur R's, and boyfriend Somers (right) released their debut album, Riceboy Sleeps, a sparse set of ethereal slow-burners played solely on acoustic instruments and featuring the string quartet Amiina and the K'pavogsd'tur Choir. The power couple (simply known as J'nsi & Alex) has showcased their watercolor paintings, charcoal-and-pencil drawings, videos, and art installations in exhibits worldwide, and Birgisson is also working on his first solo album, a collaboration with gay contemporary classical composer and 2007 Out 100 honoree Nico Muhly.
Felice Picano, Edmund White & Andrew Holleran: The Lettermen
The three remaining members of the Violet Quill'an informal group of seven novelists who met in the early '80s before the advent of AIDS'have continued to grow in stature, so that today they represent three of the most lyrical, experienced, and influential writers of any generation. Now in their mid-to-late '60s, their writing is deeply informed by their experiences through the post-Stonewall era and the AIDS epidemic. It include such masterpieces as A Boy's Own Story (White), Dancer From the Dance (Holleran), and Like People in History (Picano), which together represent cornerstones of an American gay canon.
Erin McKeown: The Cool Girl
'There's a risk, there's a twist, in anything worth doing,' sings McKeown on this year's Hundreds of Lions. Indeed, the Virginia-born multi-instrumentalist took a risk releasing her 2009 album without label support, but the results prove it was worth it. From the stifling whispers on '(Put the Fun Back in) the Funeral' to the arena-rock climax of '28' to the electronic scribbles and brooding woodwinds in 'All That Time You Missed,' Hundreds of Lions is one of the most polished, eclectic song cycles of the year.
Wanda Sykes: Entertainer of the Year
I'ma Be Me, the title of Wanda Sykes's latest HBO special, pretty effectively sums up the comedian and actress's mantra for the past year. After years of whispers and speculation, the Washington, D.C. native felt she had no choice but to come out after California passed Proposition 8 in November. And so she did'in Las Vegas'imploring others to do the same. And then she hit the ground running to become a more visible face for our community, appearing at equality events all over the country, performing on Atlantis's gay cruises, cohosting with Cyndi Lauper on this year's True Colors tour'not to mention her boundary-breaking gig as emcee of Barack Obama's first White House Correspondents' Association dinner, where she famously called Rush Limbaugh 'the 20th hijacker.'
'It's great being out. Everything is out on the table and I am what I am,' she proclaimed in I'ma Be Me, in which a truly uncensored Sykes devotes equal time to race relations, bikini waxes, her own coming out, and sperm donors. A post'coming out Wanda, is funnier, freer, and more successful than ever. In addition to stealing scenes again this season on both The New Adventures of Old Christine on CBS and on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sykes landed her own nighttime talk show, The Wanda Sykes Show (which premiered on Fox in November), where she'll be able to try out new material on her latest development: raising her and wife Alex's twins, Lucas and Olivia, born last April.
Tony Kushner: The Rebel
A new Tony Kushner play is always an event. His latest'The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures, in which a 75-year old man gathers his offspring to announce that he's killing himself'is destined for Broadway next spring following a preview in Minneapolis last April. Also next year, his opus Angels in America''a gay fantasia on national themes,' in his words'gets a much-anticipated off-Broadway reissue. The director, who in 2008 won the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, lives with his partner, Mark Harris, whom he married in 2003, complete with rings from Tiffany's in New York and then again, legally, in Massachusetts in 2008. 'One cake designer I called said, 'We specialize in elaborate beautiful white flowers all over the cake,' ' Harris told a reporter for the New York Times Vows section in 2003. 'So I said, 'I should tell you, this is for two men.' There was a slight pause, and she said, 'I can put little baseball players all over it?' '
Rob Marshall: Artists of the Year
Who knew Daniel Day-Lewis could sing and dance? Rob Marshall did. 'I'll never forget the first time I heard Daniel sing. You hold your breath, hoping, but I just knew he had a voice,' he remembers. The six-time Tony-nominated choreographer and director, best known for helming the 2002 film Chicago, has a knack for singling out Hollywood superstars and turning them into high-caliber hoofers (see: Ren'e Zellweger, Richard Gere). This year, he debuted his most ambitious project to date, directing eight heavyweights in the stunning adaptation of the Broadway musical Nine, and judging by the cast'who have 17 Oscar nominations among them'there is no one in Hollywood who doesn't trust him. In addition to Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Pen'lope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, and Sophia Loren all leaped (and leaped, and leaped) at the chance to work with him in the Fellini-inspired film.
Marshall, who received Tony nominations for his choreography of Kiss of the Spider Woman and Damn Yankees, distinguished himself as a director with the 1998 revival of Cabaret, and by 2000, he was at work on the film version of Chicago. Nearly 10 years later, America seems positively transfixed by musical theater'Broadway just finished its highest box office'grossing year ever' and the success of films like Dreamgirls and TV shows, including Glee and American Idol, owe Marshall's reinvigoration of the genre a debt of gratitude. 'I always sort of resented when people said 'the genre's dead.' Well, maybe the material wasn't there. But it wasn't dead,' he says. 'If I played a small part in that at all, I'd be so happy, because it's really what inspired me as a kid. It's a true American art form that can lift you in ways that other things can't.'
Chris Hughes: Friendliest
In one way or another, Chris Hughes has probably changed your life. Though he's said he doesn't think of himself as a builder of online communities, the wunderkind techie was one of the four founders of Facebook. In 2007, he became Barack Obama's director of online organizing and launched My.Barack.Obama.com (a.k.a. MyBO), an unprecedented networking site for Obama supporters that raised $30 million.
Hughes also helped develop Vote for Change, a site that registered a million people to vote in 2008. Last spring, the Harvard grad became an entrepreneur in residence at the venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners and joined progressive communications firm GMMB as a strategic adviser. Hughes's current status? 'I guess a two-fold answer,' he says. 'I'm considering starting another Web company while simultaneously expanding my work with organizations that combat global poverty.'