You may notice some major changes in our 8th Annual Power List—and that's for good reason. Ellen DeGeneres, who was No. 2 last year, has returned to the top spot on the list, edging past Apple CEO Tim Cook, but that is perhaps the most expected difference. The idea of power—who has it, how they wield it, who it affects—has changed immeasurably over the past few years alone, but we still wanted to measure it. So it was time to rethink how we ranked the profiles of the 50 most powerful lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in America, calculating their public profiles and ability cultural influence; their impact through traditional outlets such as politics and business, along with an ability to harness social media and new forms of communication.
Therefore some people have sunk and others have appeared for the first time. Whether it’s the first openly gay football player to hopefully play for the pros (Michael Sam, at No. 9), the first transgender billionaire (Jennifer Pritzker), or an African-American news anchor with a huge fanbase (Robin Roberts, at No. 10), these are the men and women who are making waves in numerous ways and should be recognized for the impact they have on our own lives.
Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker (No. 23), the granddaughter to the founder of the Hyatt hotel chain, becomes the first transgender woman to make the Power 50. Other notable Power 50 rookies include news anchor Don Lemon (No. 27), actress Ellen Page (No. 29), basketball player Brittney Griner (No. 31) People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle (No. 33), and lawyer Roberta Kaplan (No. 47).
Other noteworthy figures on this year’s Power 50 include:
Tim Cook (No. 2) — Last year Cook topped the list, and Cook remains the most powerful gay man in corporate America. His influence hasn’t faltered, but as he strategizes to keep the company on top in a fiercely competitive environment, he has not increased his presence in the general public.
Rachel Maddow (No. 3) – Maddow’s climb up the cable news food chain has been in overdrive, and now the reigning queen of MSNBC – The Rachel Maddow Show is the network’s most viewed – has been rising in the ratings with the all-important 25-40 demo.
Glenn Greenwald (No. 5) – Greenwald immediately became a household name, and the bane of the U.S. government, for interviewing whistleblower Edward Snowden and reporting on Snowden’s leaks regarding the National Security Agency.
Andy Cohen (No. 8) – In recent years, Cohen has become a bigger star than the housewives on his cable network, Bravo. After relinquishing his executive duties with the network to focus on his talk show, Watch What Happens Live, Bravo recently renewed the show for two more years through a multiyear deal with his production company, Most Talkative.
Annise Parker (No. 21) — As the popular mayor of a major U.S. city, Parker continues to push for progressive politics in her second term. Parker also has big professional dreams: Rumor has it she plans to run for higher office in 2018.
Frank Ocean (No. 42) – The singer/songwriter was named one of Time’s Most Influential People of the Year last year, but he’s since taken a step back from performing after a vocal cord injury. Luckily, his collaborations with Jay Z and Beyoncé have kept him firmly grounded in the musical landscape.