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.
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.
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.
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.
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.