When I was a teenager, and still in the closet to most of my friends and family members, I would sometimes sneak off to the local Barnes & Noble to peruse its magazine section. There, I would find a copy of Out and read it in the aisle with both apprehension and joy. This strange mixture was due to the fact that in my hands was a physical declaration of my queerness. Would one of my mother’s friends, seeking out a copy of Redbook, spot me holding the bold-faced “OUT” letters with a rugby stud posing underneath? Or would it be, as I had hoped, a cute guy to connect with — someone like me?
I never did pick up a boy at the bookstore. But those pages opened up a world where LGBTQ+ people spoke openly — and proudly — about their identity. That was nothing short of a revelation for me. Up until that point, my instinct had been to hide who I was, from the Barbie dolls in my grandmother’s attic to my crush on that guy in my A.P. History class. My world was “in,” which felt safe. “Out” felt scary. But here, in these pages, it finally felt possible.
Because of this history, the Out100 has great significance to me — particularly this issue of Out, which is the 300th in print (thanks for your support in making this milestone happen!). Inked on these sheets of paper are the faces and stories of possibility models for our community — folks who decided that being “in” was not an option for them. Being out — in their lives, professions, and the world — is how change happens. It’s how a life is fulfilled.
This week, we rolled out a series of covers with stars that personify this credo. Cassandra Peterson took that brave step just this year at 70. In doing so, she proved that coming out can be celebrated at any age. That she also happens to already be a gay icon and the world’s most famous goth diva, Elvira, is icing on the coffin cake. As an out politician, Jared Polis breaks barriers daily as Colorado’s governor — while also shattering stuffy stereotypes by being a passionate gamer. Ariana DeBose triumphed on Broadway as an original cast member of Hamilton and for her Tony-nominated performance as Donna Summer. Now, the West Side Story star is poised to conquer Hollywood as an out woman of color.
And speaking of Hollywood, we are so proud to feature reality TV royalty — reigning RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Symone and celebrity stylist and Legendary judge Law Roach, who are bringing Black queer excellence to an international stage. And Sara Ramirez, one of network television’s brightest stars from Grey’s Anatomy and Madam Secretary, will carry the light of nonbinary representation to the much-anticipated revival of the Sex and the City series. And of course, there’s Elliot Page, the world’s most famous transmasculine actor, who is using his voice to speak up for those without one.
Not everyone is a celebrity in the Out100 — although it dazzles me that there are prominent folks like Elliot Page moving the needle in the entertainment industry. To be an out figure of their stature is no small feat and a testament to how far the movement has come. But in this issue, we also profile the Storytellers, Groundbreakers, Disruptors, Artists, Educators, and Innovators who in their local communities or on the world stage made us proud this year. While this list is meant to honor these LGBTQ+ leaders and changemakers, it’s also for you, dear readers. Especially, it’s for that young person in the bookstore who dared to pick up these pages and imagine a brighter future. Happy reading.
Editor in Chief
This editor's letter is part of Out's 2021 Out100 issue, which is on newsstands November 30. Since this is also Out's 300th issue, we are running a $3 promotion for a one-year subscription. Subscribe now (the promotion ends on December 1). Otherwise, support queer media and subscribe outside of the promotion — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.