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2009 Out100 Cover
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Adam Lambert was boldly queer on 'American Idol' in 2009; Wanda Sykes came out

Dan Choi, Rob Marshall, and Cyndi Lauper were also featured on the cover of the Out100 issue.

Adam Lambert, Wanda Sykes, Dan Choi, Rob Marshall, and Cyndi Lauper were the five stars who graced the cover of the 2009 Out100 list.

First Lieutenant Dan Choi served in the United States Army during the Iraq War between 2006 and 2007 and transferred to the New York Army National Guard in 2008. After Choi came out as gay on The Rachel Maddow Show in 2009, however, he received a letter of discharge from the Army.

Choi responded to his discharge with a letter to President Barack Obama where he outlined all the issues concerning the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy, which effectively made it illegal for out LGBTQ+ people to serve in the military. Historically, Choi's inclusion in the Out100 came during a particularly sensitive time in his advocacy for DADT to be repealed, which wouldn't happen until December 2010. In subsequent years, Choi started working as a public speaker.

Dan Choi: Newsmaker of the YearDan Choi: Newsmaker of the Yearwww.out.com

Legendary actress and stand-up comedian Wanda Sykes came out to the public as lesbian in November 2008 while protesting against Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that was intended to ban same-sex marriage in California. Around the same time, Sykes tied the knot with her partner Alex Niedbalski, to whom she's still married. Prop 8 was eventually overturned in court, and Sykes was hailed as an instrumental figure in the fight against the amendment.

In film and television, Sykes is best known for her roles in The New Adventures of Old Christine, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Monster-in-Law, and Evan Almighty. Following the 2009 Out100, Sykes has been hard at work starring in — and sometimes co-creating and co-producing — projects such as The Wanda Sykes Show, Black-ish, Broad City, The Other Two, and The Upshaws. Her two latest stand-up specials, 2019's Wanda Sykes: Not Normal and 2023's Wanda Sykes: I'm an Entertainer, both landed on Netflix and received rave reviews.

Rob Marshall, one of the most successful Hollywood directors of all time, is an out gay man who's given us a string of hit movies for several decades now. From 2002's Chicago to 2005's Memoirs of a Geisha to 2009's Nine to 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to 2014's Into the Woods to 2018's Mary Poppins Returns to 2023's The Little Mermaid, it's hard to think of a more solid and influential track record than Marshall's.

Marshall's films have accumulated 30 nominations at the Academy Awards and resulted in nine Oscar wins. He's also received 24 nominations at the BAFTA Awards (winning five) and 18 nominations at the Golden Globe Awards (winning four). In his personal life, Marshall has been with his life partner, John DeLuca, since the 1980s.

adam-lambert.jpgAdam Lambert: Music Industry Uncomfortable with Gay Men Singing About Dudeswww.out.com

The world was introduced to Adam Lambert in 2009 as an unapologetically queer contestant in the 8th season of American Idol. While this still wasn't an accepting era for LGBTQ+ singers, Lambert's powerhouse vocals got him to the grand finale and to the release of his debut album, For Your Entertainment. That same year, Lambert kissed a male bass player in a performance at the American Music Awards and was reportedly "banned" from ABC for two years (though producers at the time denied those claims).

Lambert has dropped four more studio albums over the years: 2012's Trespassing, 2015's The Original High, 2020's Velvet, and 2023's High Drama. He has also replaced the late Freddie Mercury as the lead vocalist of Queen since 2011. Together, Queen + Adam Lambert have gone on several tours, done iconic performances in festivals, and released two live albums: 2016's Live in Japan and 2020's Live Around the World.

Besides being a gay icon throughout her entire career, Cyndi Lauper did identify as gay for some time, later explaining that she was surrounded by people in the LGBTQ+ community and just figured that she was one of us. She eventually clarified that she is, in fact, straight, but her hit song "True Colors" lives on as a timeless queer anthem. Lauper, now 71, was finally nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2023 and was booked to perform at the Glastonbury Festival in 2024… so this legend's still got it!

As President Obama's first year in office, 2009 was an incredibly hopeful and liberating time in pop culture and LGBTQ+ acceptance. This year had Lee Daniels as the first out Black gay man nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, Colin Firth's critically acclaimed performance as the gay character George Falconer in A Single Man, and Troye Sivan making his film debut as a young Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

On TV, shows like Glee, Modern Family, RuPaul's Drag Race, and United States of Tara were just premiering their first seasons, while The L Word aired its series finale. This was also a big year for queer culture's influence in music. Namely, RuPaul returned to music with the studio album Champion, Lady Gaga had us losing our minds with "Bad Romance," and Beyoncé unleashed her drag-adjacent persona in the I Am… Tour: the icon and legend known as Sasha Fierce.

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
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Disruptors
Educators
Groundbreakers
Innovators
Storytellers

Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.