Every year, power takes on a new meaning. In 2017, power means changing national political tides and the growth of a potent political resistance. Power is the mother of all drag queens having her show nominated for eight Emmys, a queer woman of color becoming the editor in chief of The Huffington Post, and a transgender New York Times bestselling author changing the world by surpassing certainty. It means a play written as a drama school project, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, becoming an Oscars’ best picture. Power means impact — the ability and authority to guide others in a time of upheaval.
Taking all of this into consideration, OUT has ranked 50 of the most influential LGBTQ people in American culture today in the Power 50 — sponsored by Genesis. OUT's publisher Greg Brossia describes this year's theme:
"The 2017 list has a specific focus on redefining power to include those who utilize their position, social influence, and notoriety to give back and raise awareness of prominent issues facing the LGBTQ community."
Sheer fortune is not the standard by which the list is measured. To have made the list, the Power 50 honorees must have touched the lives of LGBTQ people in real, tangible ways in their work.
"This is not just about individual success in one's field," Brossia explained. "It is about the reach of their sphere of influence, their propensity to be seen as a role model, and if they utilize their position as a platform to encourage and inspire other LGBTQ people."
In today's political climate — with the fate of transgender soldiers and students at risk, and the U.S. attorney general challenging LGBTQ protections under the Civil Rights Act — celebrating power means celebrating connection in a time of resistance. It means celebrating those who are using news, entertainment, and art to make a difference.
"We have a greater responsibility to be courageous, to be authentic and true to ourselves," Brossia added. "We need to venerate those individuals in our community who bring about change, achieve monumental successes, and inspire others to do the same. We must absolutely celebrate ourselves. The Power 50 is just one of the ways we do this."
The Power 50's top honorees include union organizer and Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry (pictured above, center), who champions the fight for a higher federal minimum wage; TV political commentator and author Rachel Maddow (above, right), who delivers her unfiltered truth to record audiences in the face of a regressive administration; journalist Anderson Cooper (above, left), who made waves last year as the first gay moderator of a presidential debate; and trailblazing writer and showrunner Jill Soloway — the gender-nonbinary, Emmy-winning creative force behind Transparent.
These minds lead movements, speak truth to power, tell riveting stories, and help shape the ambitions, expectations, and realities of present and future generations. They span mediums and resonate with millions.
They are the genesis of power.