100 LGBTs to look out for in 2017
100 LGBTs to look out for in 2017

100 Intriguing LGBTs to Look Out for in 2017


71. Pepe Julian Onziema

pepe julian onziema lgbts to look out for

A Ugandan LGBTQ rights activist and a trans man, Onziema was arrested in the same August 2016 raid as Frank Mugisha (#85 on our list). His work got him named a “Global Citizen” by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012, and while he’s been arrested multiple times, he refuses to let fear stop the fight for rights. You might have seen Onziema being interviewed by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight in 2014, where he said, “The fact that you guys [Westerners] know about me is a form of protection for me.” So keep an eye on him in 2017. He needs it. —R.S.B.

72. Johan Amaranthe

Photo by DR

In 2016, Amaranthe and Brian Scott Bagley launched Paris Black Pride, which is part of the U.S.-based Center for Black Equity’s international network of black pride celebrations. Their first appearance at the Pride march in 2016 was a real success. In July, a weekend included a panel discussion, film screening, history walk in “Black Paris,” exposition and picnic—plus numerous parties. In 2017, Amaranthe wants to broaden the aim of Paris Black Pride in making it a movement to unite the diverse and still less visible community of LGBT people from African descent in the Paris region. —C.M.

73.-75. Mark Takano, Tammy Baldwin and Brian Sims

As of this feature, LGBT individuals make up only 1% of the Senate and 1.38% of the House of Representatives. Of these members, only two are women and one is a person of color. There’s no trans representation whatsoever. That’s not OK. To top it off, Donald J. Trump and Co. are running our country, which is why it’s imperative for our LGBT politicians to be more vocal than ever in 2017. Sims (a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives), Mark Takano (a House Rep. from California’s 41st district and the only LGBT POC within the House) and Tammy Baldwin (a senator from Wisconsin and the only LGBT individual in the Senate) all represent the diversity we would like to see grow in U.S. politics. Our eyes and ears will be following these three closely as we watch how they handle the Trump administration. —D.A.

76. Dr. Chris Donaghue

As if taking over the world-famous Loveline wasn’t enough (he has officially taken place of Dr. Drew, cohosting the weekly podcast alongside Amber Rose every Thursday), not to mention weekly guest spots on daytime talk show The Doctors and appearances on MTV’s Amber Rose Show, Donaghue—a nationally certified sex therapist—will be spending 2017 lecturing around the country and promoting his latest book, Sex Outside the Lines. An expert on sexual and relational health, sex, gender and identity, he’s a refreshing change of pace from typical sex-shaming psychology. “I’m continuing my social justice mission,” he says, “to promote Queer identity as a healthy, non-normative sexual and social identity position that is neither gay nor heterosexual, and lives outside the binary.” Try arguing with that. —S.H.

77. Genaro Lozano


A well-known Mexican activist, journalist and teacher who has been involved in the advancement of LGBT rights in his home country, Lozano is a political expert and has important media presence. As the host of two televised news shows, he uses his platform to promote LGBT rights. This year he’ll be focusing on finishing a book as well as his doctorate degree, and luckily continuing with his broadcasts.—R.P.

78. Toni Rocca

Toni Rocca, 100 LGBTs

After its second year, GX (aka GaymerX, the nation’s only LGBTQ gaming convention) looked like it was going to die. The fledgling team had spent a lot of money in its second year, and without a huge turnaround, there wouldn’t be a third. At that point, Rocca took over as president and made huge financial sacrifices to put on GX3, the convention’s biggest and most successful year. While GX continues to inspire a new generation of queer game developers and fans (even expanding into an East Coast conference this last fall), Rocca has used her influence to encourage other companies to create better practices for inclusivity. D.V.

79. Patty Sheehan

Patty Sheehan- 100-LGBTs

Sheehan has been working in Orlando politics for nearly two decades—fighting for pedestrian safety and safe, fun, livable neighborhoods—and thanks to her, Orlando got nondiscrimination protections and domestic partnerships long before anywhere else in Florida. The city was of course faced with a heartbreaking national tragedy last June, but we look forward to seeing how Sheehan is able to assist in making the city even more gay-friendly than it was before the attack. —M.B.

80. Grace Lawrence


Lawrence emigrated from Liberia to Minnesota to San Francisco, where she found herself arrested for sex work and drug possession. Forced into isolation in prison (she was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for nearly three years, and in solitary confinement for most of that time), eventually a judge ruled that Lawrence should be released rather than deported back to Africa. Lawrence now works to help other trans immigrants through her work as an activist, motivational speaker and photojournalist. —M.B.

81. Alex Liu


For some reason, America’s still afraid to talk frankly about sex, so Alex Liu used Kickstarter to fund a documentary called A Sexplanation, aimed at teaching viewers about the psychology, biology, sociology and joys of healthy sex. Liu loves teaching others how to enjoy their bodies safely and sanely, and his project could open up whole new worlds of pleasure. Liu raised more than double the amount he was seeking to fund the Sexplanation project, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us this year. —M.B.

82. Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks, prisoner, whistleblowerWe’ll be arguing for years—maybe decades—about the impacts of Chelsea Manning‘s document leak. While many see her as a whistleblower who revealed war crimes, others view her as a criminal who endangered millions of lives. Either way, she’ll be released this May after having her sentence commuted by Obama, and Manning will finally have the opportunity to speak for herself in public. —M.B.

83. Ramy Eletreby


Eletreby wears a lot of hats: He’s a writer, performer and an Afro-Arab-Egyptian, and he speaks out about being a queer Muslim. It’s a perspective that we seldom hear, but Eletreby isn’t afraid to open up about living at the intersection of a sexuality and religion that are often at odds. He now works to build community in his hometown of Los Angeles, and we’re excited to see what he has in store for us in 2017. —M.B.

84. Indianara Siqueira

Indianara Siqueira, 100 LGBTs

Sao Paulo-born Siqueira has become Rio de Janeiro’s foremost trans advocate, combining her direct style of street activism with pragmatism and flair. She ran away from home at age 16 after facing queerphobic abuse from her family and community; from there, she lived on the streets and befriended trans sex workers, one of which became her mentor. Since then, she has challenged governmental misgendering of trans people through multiple arrests for baring her breasts in public (something which should technically be legal seeing as the city lists her as male); founded PreparaNem, a prep course for trans people who want to attend university; and currently heads the Transrevolução Group, a trans-led street action group that challenges the many murders of trans women locally.  D.V.

85. Frank Mugisha


An LGBTQ rights activist and an openly gay man living in Uganda—where homosexuality is a criminal offense—his courageous struggle against the forces of bigotry earned Mugisha the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award in 2011. He was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Last August, Mugisha and some of his fellow LGBTQ activists were arrested by the Ugandan police, stripped, humiliated and then released without charge. Despite the danger he faces on a daily basis, Mugisha refuses to give up the fight for queer rights. —R.S.B.

86.-89. The House of Avalon (Hunter Crenshaw, Mark Monroe, Grant Vanderbilt and Caleb Feeney)


Seeing as how nothing substantially queer was coming out of their home state of Arkansas, The House of Avalon did the only thing they knew how to do: party. The foursome began to throw queer parties at their house, which eventually led to a partnering with Club Sway in Downtown Little Rock—and a revamping of the venue as a sanctuary they deemed Glitterrock. Now, with the simple aim to “be as gay as humanly possible in the face of an oncoming Trump empire,” the House is leaving an Arkansas queer community that can now sustain itself for the sunny shores of Los Angeles, where they seek to creatively challenge themselves in 2017. —S.H.

90. Conner Habib

Conner Habib - LGBTS to watch out for
Photo by Landis Blair

Author, lecturer, advocate and cute as the dickens, is it any wonder we love Conner Habib? He’s written brilliant essays about culture’s love-hate relationship with pornography, and he’s one of the few porn performers with a grad school degree. When interviewed for The Sewers of Paris, he said that while he’s found himself in many different subcultures (from the occult to punk), he never sees himself as an outsider but as “a bridge between different worlds.” The world would be a better place if everyone saw life that way. —M.K.

91. Li Tingting

li tingting lgbts to look out for li maizi

Tingting (aka Li Maizi) made international news in 2015 when she and four other feminists were detained by the Chinese government for planning a protest against sexual harassment on public transportation. A lesbian, she married her partner Teresa Xu later that year, though the Chinese government does not recognize same-sex marriage. Fierce and fearless in the face of totalitarian oppression, Li Tingting is an inspiration to queer feminists everywhere. —R.S.B.

92. Ian Brossat

Photo by Isabelle Franciosca

Paris Deputy Mayor in charge of housing since 2014—on the team of Anne Hidalgo, the city’s very LGBT-friendly first female mayor—Brossat came out in 2011. He entered politics with the Communist Party in 1997 at the age of 17. Confronting the conservative right in the wealthy 16e arrondissement, he opened a shelter for the homeless there. Very active on social networks, Brossat knows what intersectionality means. Last year, he made possible the renaming of a Paris promenade to Coccinelle, the first world-renowned trans woman. This year he will open right in the center of Paris a shelter for LGBT homeless youth and LGBT refugees. —C.M.

Photo by Xavier Héraud

93. Alix Béranger

With a group of seven other lesbian and feminist women (including Elisabeth Lebovici, Veronica Noseda and Alice Coffin), Béranger  launched in 2016 the first foundation to financially support lesbian activities (la LIG: Lesbiennes d’Intérêt Général). Before that, she was at the forefront of the group Oui Oui Oui, a action-driven group fighting (still unsuccessfully) for the opening of Assisted Medical Procreation to all women. In 2017, LIG will finance activism, research projects and art, among other things. The organization is the first of its kind in France, and it’s one their gay brothers didn’t think of before. —C.M.

94. Peter Tatchell

Photo by Colin

Tatchell is one of the most dedicated, brave and brilliant activists in the world, born in Melbourne, Australia. To avoid conscription into the Australian Army, he moved to London in 1971 and became a member of the Gay Liberation Front. In the 1990s, he campaigned for LGBT rights through the direct action group OutRage!, which he co-founded. But in 2007, a number of African LGBTI leaders signed a statement condemning the involvement of Tatchell and OutRage! in African issues. An opponent of the war in Iraq and nuclear energy, Tatchell received the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament in London late last year, and his fight for peace will continue throughout 2017. —C.M.

95. Volker Beck

Photo: flickr / Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung / by 2.0

One of the most prominent (and sometimes controversial) gay personalities in Germany, Volker Beck from the Green Party made headlines last year but not for any proud accomplishment: In March, Berlin found Beck to be in possession of 0.6 grammes of crystal meth. The following day, Beck resigned from his positions, only keeping his seat in the Bundestag. Nevertheless, Beck served as spokesman of the Association of Lesbians and Gays in Germany (LSVD) for more than 10 years. He is a supporter of same-sex marriage and has been referred to as the “Father of the German Registered Partnership Act.” Activism is second nature for him. In June of last year, Beck was among 19 people detained by Turkish police in Istanbul during the annual Istanbul Pride week, after authorities banned their march. Here’s hoping his activism in support of the LGBT rights movement continues throughout 2017. —C.M.

96. Eliel Cruz

Even in 2017, bisexual visibility predominantly exists in a clouded area of ambiguity, whereas the identity lacks the voice seen by L’s, G’s and T’s. Cruz is helping to define that voice. As a bisexual writer and advocate, he’s created some of the most interesting bisexually oriented content on the internet, and in addition to this, he has a history and passion in bridging the gaps of faith, gender and sexuality. We can’t wait to see what Cruz brings to the table in terms of a strong bisexual presence in 2017. —D.A.

97. Fan Popo

fan popo lgbts to look out for

A young gay filmmaker in a country with little in the way of gay rights or free speech, in 2015 Fan won a legal battle against the Chinese government over its censorship of his film Mama Rainbow (2012), a documentary about Chinese moms and their relationships with their queer children. In 2016, he released the follow-up, Papa Rainbow, about Chinese dads and their LGBTQ children. Will he have to sue the censors again? Stay tuned. —R.S.B.

98.-99. Dark Matter (Janani Balasubramanian and Alok Vaid-Menon)

Dark Matter, 100 LGBTs

Even if you haven’t heard of this trans South Asian performance art duo, you may have heard of Dark Matter, their brainchild that has become influential among activists and queer people of color (QPOC) around the world. The two met at Stanford University, joined the Stanford Slam Poetry Team and have gone on to give performances, workshops and speeches across the U.S. as a way of highlighting their personal journeys and how privilege and oppression harm activist space—particularly homonationalism, the use of violence against people of color under the pretense of “queer rights” (think Trump promising to crush Daesh/ISIL for throwing gay people off of buildings while doing nothing to improve LGBTQ rights anywhere else). Balasubramanian has continued doing freelance work with groups like the Detention Watch Network and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, while Vaid-Menon recently appeared in HBO’s The Trans List and is the Communications and Grassroots Fundraising coordinator at the Audre Lorde Project, a QPOC organization in New York City. D.V.

100. Ophelia Pastrana

Ophelia Pastrana - lgbts to watch out for, mexico, trans

Better known as OphCourse, Pastrana is a Colombian trans woman living in Mexico. The BBC named her one of six Latina trans women making a change, and she works hard fighting for trans visibility in media, utilizing her strong social media presence. Pastrana’s got big plans for 2017, so we’re making sure you keep our eye on her. —R.P.

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