A new queen on the Los Angeles scene, you may have followed Meatball (née Logan Jennings) as she competed for the title of “America’s Next Drag superstar” on the Boulet Brothers’ Dragula web series. And while she may not have taken home that title, she’s won a special place in the hearts of all who love a bit of slapstick humor with our wigs and heels. 2017 is the year Meatball goes digital, as you’re sure to see her in music videos, in YouTube vids of her own and—as has become a trademark of sorts—eating large portions of food alongside special guests on Facebook Live. Bucket of chicken, anyone? —Stephan Horbelt
2. Ruben Quesada
Wherever poetry is happening, Quesada is there. The son of immigrants, he writes poignantly of his California childhood and about the mythic implications of Americana. A professor at Eastern Illinois University, he’s also co-founder of the performing arts nonprofit Stories & Queer. We’re looking forward to the words Quesada will put to paper in 2017. —Matt Baume
3. Shay Neary
Neary revels in the comfy, sexy fashions she gets to wear as a model for Coverstory. As the first trans plus-size model the company has cast, she relishes in casting off the tired tropes of naked shoots and trans women in men’s suits. Her goal: For plus-size women to be able to shop alongside their smaller friends instead of having to turn to online stores. Maybe 2017 will finally be that year. —M.B.
It was three years ago that Christeene—the Austin, Texas, drag terrorist known for such tracks as “Fix My Dick” and “African Mayonnaise”—took to Indiegogo to raise funds for her first album, Waste Up, Kneez Down. 2016 saw Christeene (known as Paul Soileau in more ‘respectable’ circles) back at crowdfunding, and having raised more than the $25K needed for a sophomore effort, 2017 will be the year fans see a new record (and hopefully more work with queer supergroup Commando). Here’s hoping the new record is as subversive and raunchy as the first. (Judging by the brand-new release “Butt Muscle,” it is!) Christeene is the official voice of punk rock in Trump’s America. —S.H.
5. Julia Kaye
Kaye is the creator of hilarious comic strip Up and Out. While it started as a gag strip, this year Kaye began her transition, officially coming out last summer. While Up and Out took a hiatus this past September—Kaye got a job working on a new Disney TV show, Country Club, due out in 2018—on Thursdays she posts autobiographical comics about her transition. Not only is Kaye a gifted gag artist, but her autobiographical works are poignant and honest. —Matt Keeley
6. Chen Ching-yuan
If being signed by the Tina Keng Gallery, one of the best—if not the best—galleries in Taiwan, doesn’t tell you how talented Chen Ching-yuan is, you should take a look for yourself. His work is wild, but traditional touches belie his work’s deep and dark messages. Chen stands tall among his peers in the Keng gallery—mostly big but older names. While many queer artists use the language of blatant sexuality, Chen downplays it, choosing to bring the viewer into familiar stories with a twist of queerness. Viewers come away from his art knowing what it’s like to be a minority in the Eastern world. —Darien Chen
7. Alfredo Roagui
A well-known illustrator, it’s likely you’re already familiar with Roagui’s work. Thirty years old from Guadalajara, Mexico, he’s a ‘Disney freak’ whose inspiration often comes from two of his passions: mermaids and sexy men. 2016 saw him put out his annual calendar of work while also working on the creative design of the film Hurricane Bianca starring Drag Race star Bianca Del Rio. We can’t wait to see the art Roagui unveils to the world in 2017. —Ricardo Peralta
8. Aja Queen
Are you following the rumors and speculations? Even though it hasn’t officially been announced, many are hopeful this queen will appear on the next season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She hails from Brooklyn, and is a fierce live performer. Whether she appears on RuPaul’s upcoming season or not, we know we can expect exciting things from Aja Queen this upcoming year. —Alex Kacala
9. Maya Monès
Monés occupies both the worlds of fashion and nightlife. With various hosting gigs around New York City, campaigns for Gypsy Sport and shows for top designers like Chromat, she keeps busy. Every fashion week she slays the runway for more prominent names, so we can’t wait to see who works with this beauty in 2017. “I always wanted to become a model, but it just never felt like it was a possibility because I never felt comfortable with myself growing up until I started transitioning,” she told Next magazine. “I am still in the process of learning how to be comfortable with myself and loving myself a lot. I just wanted to spread that and try and help other trans people who are coming into themselves. Or gender non-conforming people. People of all walks of life who need a boost. That is what I do it for.” —A.K.
His “wearable art”—created under the brand Onch Movement—has been featured everywhere from the pages of Italian Vogue to the necks and wrists of celebrities including Kate Moss and Kim Kardashian, but there are even bigger things in store for this Los Angeles-based artist in 2017. In addition to jewelry collaborations and charitable projects, this spring will see Onch once again create an exciting art experience for L.A. Pride, and most exciting of all, you’ll want to stay tuned for the summer announcement of a brick-and-mortar collaboration between Onch Movement and a certain popular retailer. —S.H.
11. Luo Yujia
Having already won national titles and awards while in school, Luo Yujia became an instant sensation. He was the kick the Chinese literature world needed. Being blessed with Taiwan’s rich culture of LGBT literature, Luo offered a fresh angle with his vivid poetry that not only tells a story but takes you inside the kaleidoscope mind of a queer youth. In this day and age, it’s almost miraculous to see such a young author be so prolific and successful, publishing bestseller after bestseller—in poetry no less! But that just proves that Luo is the boy to watch out for in 2017 … and for the next ten years (at least). —D.C.
12. Simon Hanselmann
Hanselmann is most famous for his outstanding Megg, Mogg and Owl strip, where he takes the beloved British children’s book characters “Meg and Mog” and turns them into an unhappily debauched couple, wallowing in self-destruction and self-loathing. As funny as the strip can be, it’s more often sad and disturbing watching the characters find new ways to suffer. Fantagraphics has published two essential collections, Megahex and Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam, with a third, One More Year, coming in April. —M.K.
13. Panti Bliss
In March 2014, the impassioned speech on gay rights delivered by Panti Bliss, also known as her alter-ego Rory O’Neill, was a turning point in the discussion that raged in Ireland about same-sex marriage. Considered the foremost drag queen in Ireland, he has long been open about being HIV-positive and gives this explanation on his motivations behind the fight: “What I have been about is trying to expand the definition of Irishness to include people like me—to make a space for queer people.” Panti Bliss is now invited all over Europe to talk about LGBT rights, and his Pantibar, opened in Dublin in 2007, is now a very successful business. —Christophe Martet
While we might ship Zarya and Mei, the star of Overwatch is Tracer. She’s the one who usually shows up on promotional material for the game, and this past winter, she was outed in the official Overwatch comic book. The game’s publisher, Blizzard, has said that there are other queer characters in the game, but they haven’t been revealed yet … so Zarya-Mei may be canon yet! Either way, we’re excited to see what other adventures Tracer has with her girlfriend Emily in the comics! —M.K.
15. Laith De La Cruz
You might’ve seen De La Cruz on Strut, Oxygen’s 2016 show about the world’s first trans modeling agency—a show he joined after quitting his day job to pursue modeling full-time late last year. He’s very public about his relationship with fellow trans model Arisce Wanzer (they met on the series), and the two often share peeks into their life together on Instagram. De La Cruz has already played the face of a Barneys New York campaign shot by legendary photographer Bruce Weber, but let’s see what 2017 has in store for fashion and LGBT visibility. —M.B.