The queer community is a strong one, built on the backs of people who have sacrificied a lot, but it isn’t just a collective history of struggle. The queer community is vibrant and beautiful, filled with people who represent the liberation and freedom we hope to attain. The idea of a queer icon is someone who embodies this vision and can be seen as an example for young queer people that they’re not alone, that they dont need to feel alienated.
The existence of queer people in mainstream media is crucial and there are some figures that stand out as icons within our community. The two who stand out the most to me are Munroe Bergdorf and Elliot Page. Even when queer people are represented it usually takes the form of cisgender white people, therefore the existence of a beautiful black trans model like Munroe Bergdorf is incredibly inspiring for young queers who don’t feel represented, even by media that is supposed to represent them.
Elliot Page coming out as trans last year was also a huge inspiration for so many people.
These two figures to me represent the euphoria that comes with being who you truly are and living in a way that makes you comfortable. Hopefully their presence will inspire the next generation of trans youth to feel confident and empowered in their identities and for that they deserve nothing less than icon status.
Historical queer icons are also a huge part of our community, figures that represent liberation and freedom for our community.
The existence of figures like Marsha P Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie exist in the collective history of the community, people who were the backbone of the gay liberation movement and represent the vibrancy and strength of a community whose history is often represented as solely tragic.
Both Marsha and Stormé were key figures in the stonewall riots and it is a crime that we are not taught more about them and their role in gay liberation . Another figure who is one of my personal heroes is Mark Ashton, represented in the 2014 film Pride, represents the solidarity that the queer liberation movements showed with other movements of the era, notably the miners strike. These figures are inspiring and deserve to have their story told. We often think of queer history as old fashioned men having clandestine encounters with other men.
But the history of the queer community is more inclusive, more liberating and, for me, these figures represent the true history of our community.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of LGBTQ icons, their existence is a key aspect of our community and they hold a special place in the heart of many, including me, for whom learning from them and about them was a huge part of coming to terms with my sexuality. Queer icons are crucial for other young LGBTQ people learning more about queerness and their existence is what helps people feel included and safe within our community.