Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., dubbed “Rock Hudson” by his image-crafting manager, was an American leading man and sex symbol of the mid-20th century, starring in both melodramas and fluffy comedies, along with a smattering of other genres, television, and live theater. Before moving to Hollywood Scherer had been an aircraft mechanic. Although he had no acting training he was able to break into the business on the strength of his good looks and persistence; later tutoring from Universal Pictures solved his inexperience problem, and he went on to be nominated for an Oscar. Scherer publicly announced that he was gay and HIV positive before passing away from AIDS-related complications in 1985, which became a pivotal event in drawing attention to the disease and humanizing homosexuality.
Dubbed the “Queen of Swords,” Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender fighter in Mixed Martial Arts history, has been coping with controversy for almost as long as she’s been competing. When she came out after her second professional fight there was a question of whether she had been licensed properly; though the issue of her inclusion was later resolved with the full support of the UFC, various fighters have since refused to compete with her or complained following losses. Outside of her matches Fox has been featured in a documentary about LGBT athletes and been inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
Transgender and intersex advocate Mauro Cabral has become one of Argentina’s experts. One of the founding directors of GATE (Global Action for Trans* Equality), Cabral began researching the ethics behind intersex surgeries after his own traumatic experiences, which he describes as “a violation that lasted eight years.” He has spoken in front of the United Nations, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, and the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, among others, and edited Interdicciones – Escrituras de la Intersexualidad en Castellano (Bans: Scriptures of Intersexuality in Castilian). Perhaps most impressively he was among the 29 signatories of the Yogyakarta Principles, a list of internationally-compiled principles related to the human rights of sexual and gender minorities.
Cabral’s Facebook page is available here.
No quote can summarize activist, sex worker, performer, and politician Jamie Lee Hamilton more elegantly than this excerpt from The Walrus profile of her: “She became a Native Princess, a Ms. Gay Vancouver, and, inevitably, an honorary member of the travelling cast of A Chorus Line.” For over three decades she pushed for Canadian laws targeting sex workers to be overturned using a mixture of dramatic tactics and community building; she even became Canada’s first trans person to run for public office and nearly won a seat. She also sits on the board of directors for the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, an aboriginal advocacy group.
Screenwriter, lyricist, and activist Gazal Dhaliwal is an outspoken member of India’s increasingly public transgender community. She created a documentary while in film school, To be…Me, which features interviews with fellow trans people and summarizes current medical and legal perspectives. She has appeared in blogs, on the TV series My Big Decision, and with her parents on a high-profile talk show‘s episode on “alternative sexualities” (available for viewing here). In her appearances she stresses her post-transition happiness and the variety of gender roles that trans people are drawn to.
Loki, the Norse trickster god, is credited with fathering a panoply of peculiar creatures (including the Midgard Serpent and the wolf Fenrir), but he is also on record as having given birth to one: Sleipnir, Odin’s horse. As the story goes, the gods commissioned a wall to surround their realm of Asgard, and promised an impossible fee to the builder if he completed the project within three months. Thanks to the aid of a powerful stallion the builder’s progress was rapid, and the gods demanded that Loki – who had suggested the stallion in the first place – sabotage the construction. He transformed into a mare and lured the stallion away, delaying the builder – actually a giant in disguise – from completing the project. When Loki returned he brought Sleipnir the colt as a gift to Odin, claiming to have given birth to it.
Although the story of Loki and Sleipnir is included in Wikipedia’s “LGBT themes in mythology” page, it is difficult to discern how it relates to contemporary terminology.Viking same-sex relations were stigmatized for the male receiving partner, adding a possible element of humiliation. While Loki does willingly engage in sex with a stallion, it is in the context of making amends for one of his mistakes, and there are no other direct references in Norse mythology to him sleeping with other male creatures; he does, however, change physical sex on several occasions. At least one prominent modern interpretation views him as bisexual, but – as ever – deities defy easy human categorization.
A multitalented gay cult film creator, John Waters was the creative mind behind notorious Dreamlander productions like Pink Flamingos and the tamer Hairspray, which was later adapted as a Broadway musical. To all of his productions he has brought his trademark sense of offbeat, taboo humor, the kind that involves feces more often than not. Outside of his shock films, Waters is also a fine artist and writer. His humorous concept art installations have been featured in prominent galleries, including a photograph of flowers that squirts passers by with water. His adventures hitchhiking across the United States are documented in a memoir called Carsick, which contains comical fictional accounts of his journey along with the real one.