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2001 Out100 Cover
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Angelina Jolie became a box-office superstar in 2001; Queer As Folk was a hit

Out also paid tribute to heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The beginning of the 21st century continued to mark slow and steady progress for the LGBTQ+ community. In April, the Netherlands became the very first country to legalize same-sex marriage without caveats preventing adoption or obtaining joint custody of a child. Public acceptance of LGBTQ+ people was inching forward in the United States, and several states took strides to ban discrimination based on sexuality.

Television may have played a role in those shifting attitudes. Queer As Folk premiered at the tail end of 2000, and the first season proved to be a ratings hit for Showtime over the first half of 2001. Stars Randy Harrison and Peter Paige were among those featured on the Out100 list that year. Both stayed with the show through all five influential seasons, and Paige later went on to co-create another queer favorite, The Fosters.

Just four years after the outcry that surrounded Ellen DeGeneres having her sitcom character come out as a lesbian, leading to the show's cancellation not long after, the comedian was given another shot with The Ellen Show. It was a swing and a miss, canceled in 2002 after one season, paving the way for DeGeneres to go on to be a daytime TV juggernaut.

John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch made the leap from off-Broadway to Hollywood, opening to positive reviews and abysmal box office numbers — it was released on September 12, 2001 — the movie eventually became an undeniable cult classic. It even finally made it to Broadway in 2014.

While Melissa Etheridge was releasing her seventh album and making headlines for starting up a relationship with Popular star Tammy Lynn Michaels, other music icons were finally finding their way out of the closet. R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe described himself as a "queer man" in an interview for the first time, acknowledging that he had been in a relationship with another man for the past three years. And Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo used the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner as an opportunity to come out as both gay and HIV-positive.

Steven Spielberg got a nod on the Out100 for active allyship after stepping down from his position on the Boy Scouts of America's advisory board following their legal battle to keep gay men and boys out of the group.

"I thought the Boy Scouts stood for equal opportunity and I have consistently spoken out publicly and privately against intolerance and discrimination based on ethnic, religious, racial, and sexual orientation," Spielberg said at the time.

Another Hollywood heavy-hitter, out bisexual Angelina Jolie, was featured on the list after her turn in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Despite largely negative reviews, the film was an international success, and turned Jolie into a bonafide action star.

More importantly, she credits her time filming in Cambodia with inspiring her humanitarian efforts, particularly her work with refugees. She became an Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency later that year, and has gone on to do a truly impressive amount of good in the decades that followed.

Of course, 2001 is most remembered by Americans for the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. New York firefighter Tom Ryan was among those recognized on the Out100 as the year came to a close, and in 2023, Outpaid tribute to two gay men who died heroically saving others that day — Mark Bingham, a passenger on Flight 93, and Father Mychal Judge, who ran into the North Tower after it was struck to help.

See All 2023's Most Impactful and Influential LGBTQ+ People
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Step into the Out100 Vault & celebrate 30 years of history-making LGBTQ+ folks!
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Step into the Out100 Vault & celebrate 30 years of history-making LGBTQ+ folks!

It's been 30 years since the annual Out100 list started highlighting the best and brightest of the community. To honor that milestone, let's take a look back at the many LGBTQ+ people who have changed the world.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Out100, Out’s storied annual list of LGBTQ+ people who have changed culture — and the world.

In celebration of this milestone, we are so proud to launch the official Out100 Vault, which highlights the Out100 covers from our archive as well as fresh essays and insights from past honorees.

The preservation of the LGBTQ+ past has never been more important, as the recent right-wing attempts at queer book bans and censorship demonstrate. For over three decades, Out has fought against mainstream erasure, telling the stories of the artists, warriors, and changemakers who made our history and our movement. Looking to the future, we hope you find inspiration from them in the ongoing fight for visibility and equality.

And if you, or someone you know, deserve to be on this list, please let us know through the Reader’s Choice submission page. Your stories and accomplishments need to be heard, and Out as always is here to tell them.

Sincerely,


Daniel Reynolds

Editor in chief, Out Magazine

Raffy Ermac

Editor in chief, Out.com

See All 2023's Most Impactful and Influential LGBTQ+ People
Artists
Disruptors
Educators
Groundbreakers
Innovators
Storytellers

Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.