In celebration of Pride Month, we give props to LGBTQ+ personalities who have taught us so much about courage and acceptance simply by being themselves in public spaces—not an easy feat in a world that has been running on the fumes of toxic masculinity for so long. They may be far from perfect, some may have even said and/or done some problematic sh*t a couple of times in the past, but the work they’ve put in to push LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance to pop culture cannot be discounted. Bow down.

Image from W Magazine

Ellen Page, actress and activist
The 31-year-old actress’ coming out speech in 2014 made me cry, because aside from speaking out her truth, Page also called for people to love themselves as who they are so they could also be much kinder to one another. Since then, she has remained visible and very vocal about effecting change, not just in culture through her 2016 Gaycation series, but also legislatively by putting her body where her politics are. Page has been filmed engaging in discussions with people who think that LGBTQ+ people are somewhat lesser and therefore not as deserving to exercise their human rights, and somehow, despite the dismissive attitude of the folks whose points of view she is trying to understand and maybe change, Page remains calm and respectful in handing them receipts. I aspire to be even half as graceful as she is in the face of pressure and discrimination. – September Grace Mahino, executive editor (and a straight cisgender woman)

“This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.” – Ellen Page

 

Image from E! Online

Janelle Monáe, actress, artist, and advocate
She came out as pansexual recently after years of people speculating about her sexuality, and it couldn’t have been easy for anyone to try to make a name for themselves, only for the “Are you straight or gay/lesbian/bi?” question to keep popping up at every turn. Janelle Monáe came out in a big way and on her own terms, though, with her powerful third album Dirty Computer. More than amazing, genre-bending music, Dirty Computer came complete with an emotion picture that celebrates femininity, queerness, being black, and being free. Now, bi-/pan-erasure (even within the LGBTQ+ community) is a real issue, with people quick to dismiss them as mere labels instead of lived identities. Yet Monáe is a living, breathing counterpoint of that perspective, and in freeing herself, she encourages others to free themselves too. – September Grace Mahino, executive editor (and a straight cisgender woman)

“I have friends who are in, you know, same-sex relationships and I think that love has no sexual orientation. Love has no religious beliefs. Love is the purest thing and one of the most important things that we can possess for ourselves and for others.” – Janelle Monáe

 

Image from People Magazine

Andre “RuPaul” Charles, drag queen/cultural icon
Aside from giving birth to the most entertaining and intellectual show in hers-tory (IMO) RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ru has been inspiring the LGBTQ+ community not only to nourish each one’s Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent but also to just be who we are as individuals. His groundbreaking and Emmy Award-winning show teaches its drag queens and viewers self-love, especially with his signature line, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” There are also the very relatable life lessons that we get to hear from the contestants’ stories. But there’s one Lipsync For Your Life moment in the show that I will never forget. It has touched my life on a different level, and I will be forever thankful for this reminder from Ru. – Jerico Villamonte, style and grooming editor

“We as gay people, we get to choose our family, we get to choose the people we are around [with]. I am your family. We are family here. I love you.” – RuPaul

 

Image from Wonderland Magazine

Troye Sivan, singer
One of the things that I admire about Troye Sivan is that since he came out, he has not been afraid to express his personality and character artistically. I know there are other LGBTQ+ artists throughout history who has done the same and had it even rougher than he has (which is also why Sivan refuses the Gay Icon tag), but I think we just need more representation of the community through people like him in the world we live in. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t come only with pain but also love, fun, and happiness, and I think that’s what his two current songs, My My My! and Bloom, are about. Celebrating love and giving in to the happiness that it brings—gay life isn’t all about heartache, denial, and disease. Just give in and let love take over! But music is only half of the story of this Australian singer/songwriter: He’s also woke about issues like common misconceptions about HIV-AIDS, rampant internalized homophobia, and being gay in the era of neo-fascism, and he has been addressing them as he makes his name in the pop culture. – Jerico Villamonte, style and grooming editor

“The thing that I really want to try and do is live my life really openly and honestly. I think there’s so much power in that, as simple as it is.” – Troye Sivan

 

 

 

Image from Hollywood Reporter

Ellen Degeneres, comedian, television host, actress, writer, producer, and LGBT activist
Its impossible not to love Ellen. She is an inspiration in all aspects: successful yet humble, funny, generous, and compassionate. Did I mention she’s funny too? – Ronan Capili, photographer

“Do we have to know who’s gay and who’s straight? Can’t we just love everybody and judge them by the car they drive?” – Ellen Degeneres

 

Image from Getty Images

Kevyn Aucoin, makeup artist and author 
He changed the beauty industry by making professional techniques approachable and attainable to the public. Kevyn Aucoin was known as the “Michelangelo of Maquillage,” and he had painted the faces of the world’s most famous women. Sadly, he died in 2002. I’m a big fan of his work in print, film, and television, specifically his ability to transform different faces, regardless of their ethnicity and race. Aucoin generously shared his methods in his books, which are like my beauty bibles: Making Faces and Face Forward. I love his approach to beauty: effortless and imperfect. His artistry remains incomparable. I have a favorite Aucoin quote, which resonates with me because it speaks true to how society labels or categorizes LGBTQ+ people into boxes that limit and even degrade us, and make us feel insecure about who we really are. Being gay is not a choice; it is an identity, and gay people should be able celebrate it and not be shamed into thinking there is anything unnatural or wrong with them. Paolo Pontiveros, makeup and SFX artist

“I didn’t know what gay was. There was no such thing when I was growing up. I knew I had crushes on boys, but I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that until I started to hear about it from the other kids in school.” – Kevyn Aucoin