Asexual American comedian Paula Poundstone has been active on the standup circuit since 1979. Following a spot on Saturday Night Live she began hosting television programs and appearing in minor roles as an actor; her notable appearances include late-night political correspondence during the 1992 presidential campaign and an HBO special for which she was honored with a CableACE Award (she also appears on Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Standups of All Time” list). She is also a regular panelist on the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, which she describes in an interview here. In addition to her standup and other vocal appearances Poundstone has also penned a comedic memoir, There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.
British/New Zealander stage and screen writer and cult film actor Richard O’Brien (the stage name of Richard Timothy Smith) was the mastermind behind The Rocky Horror Show, a queer gothic musical comedy that has generated a robust, ritualized midnight screening tradition. (He also originated the role of Riff Raff and played him in the film adaptation.) O’Brien’s career has also extended into eccentric television program hosting, including the popular UK game show The Crystal Maze, for which he was selected because he fit the show’s “Dungeons and Dragons” vibe.
Although O’Brien was assigned male at birth and continues to use male pronouns, he identifies as “70% male, 30% female,” and uses the term transgender to refer to himself.
Stu Rasmussen, the first transgender mayor in the United States, had been elected in the small town of Silverton, Oregon, twice before transitioning, and then again after. A movie theater owner, former cable installer, and computer expert, Rasmussen ran on a fiscally conservative, locally-focused platform. When protestors appeared from out of state the town’s residents arranged a counter-protest in which they crossdressed out of solidarity. To raise money for the city Rasmussen has sold selections from his prodigious shoe collection. A musical based on his life (and election) was produced in Seattle and included in the New York Festival of New Musicals.
Vasil Trayanov Boyanov, who goes by the stage name Azis, is a gay Bulgarian Roma pop-folk singer who performs in a drag-ish hodgepodge of outfits. Azis boasts an impressive discography including dozens of singles, and his concerts sell out quickly. His atypically-gendered modeling and open homosexuality have been sources of controversy, as when billboards featuring him kissing his then-husband while shirtless were censored for being too graphic. Outside of music and scandal Azis was narrowly defeated in a run for parliament as a member of the Eurorama party. For his accomplishments Azis was declared the 21st most important Bulgarian of all time in 2006 by the television program Velikite Balgari.
Prolific artist, filmmaker, and author Clive Barker has been leaving his mark on he horror genre since the 1980s when he debuted his short story collections Books of Blood. He directed his most notable work, Hellraiser, out of a fear that his original story would be treated poorly in the wrong hands, as he had seen happen to another adaptation. Since his early forays into fiction he has branched out into other genres, including – of all things – young adult literature. For the positive portrayal of homosexuality in his novel Sacrament he was honored with a GLAAD Media Award in 2003.
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.