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.
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.
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.
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.
Anthony Perkins’ role of “Norman Bates” in Psycho (and its sequels) was among the most iconic to come out of thriller director Alfred Hitchcock’s canon and an overwhelming presence in the actor’s life. Perkins had already been a theater actor and won awards for both stage and screen, like the part of a young Quaker man in Friendly Persuasion, a movie President Reagan later offered to Mikhail Gorbachev as a model of conflict resolution. Perkins also had a respectable singing voice, acting in several musicals and releasing three pop albums, though he never managed a career from it.
Perkins’ sexual orientation is subject to some interpretation. Although he allegedly had affairs with a number of male celebrities, he did marry and had at least one encounter with a different woman earlier in his life. He is popularly referred to as both homosexual and bisexual though he never openly called himself either; in fact, he suggested in one interview that psychotherapy had enabled him to have relationships with women.
Although Anthony Rapp, the queer stage and screen actor, is best known for originating the role of “Mark Cohen” in the musical Rent, his career began when he was six years old with a title part in the Broadway production of The Little Prince and the Aviator. Along with several Rent revivals and numerous other small roles, Rapp has written original music and a memoir (which he’s since transformed into a production of its own); taken director roles; and gone on a musical tour with another Rent actor. Rapp consistently takes on the roles of queer characters, including a gay man in the short film Grind and a bisexual man in the Broadway production If/Then.
Rapp’s prolific Twitter feed is available here.