The LGBTQ+ community has never shied away from unapologetic self-expression, and this is at the forefront of the fashion worn by icons within the community. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and visit some iconic looks from some iconic idols over the past few decades …
Judy Garland is one of the most famous icons in the LGBTQ+ history. Garland unsurprisingly gained a large gay fan base over her films, especially from The Wizard of Oz. In fact, in the 1950s the saying “Is he a friend of Dorothy?” was slang in the gay community for “Is he gay?”. Not only this, but we still hear the term “Judy” within current popular culture such as on shows like Ru Paul’s drag race today. Judy Garland was most definitely a style icon, always sporting a flawlessly crafted hairdo, known for glamourous dresses and in her later years she donned bright bold prints. Judy Garland was most definitely a blueprint for LGBTQ+ Style Icons.
Dietrich broke barriers with her androgynous film roles and fashion choices. Marlene was an expert on fashion and never shied from wearing a suit, which at the time was considered taboo.
Holly Woodlawn came into the public eye as one of Andy Warhol’s 60s muses, but holly stood out from the others as she was a transgender woman. Holly was often seen in bright outfits, with large hair and fur coat. Always renowned for her glamorous dress sense and signature brows. The actress appeared in many LGBTQ+ cult movies including Lou Reeds “Walk on the Wild Side”. Being one of the most famous trans women of all time, holly lived fabulously up until her final days.
Marlene Dietrich had a long career she started acting in 1919 and was one of Hollywood’s first queer fashion icons. Dietrich broke barriers with her androgynous film roles and fashion choices. Marlene was an expert on fashion and never shied from wearing a suit, which at the time was considered taboo. Her favourite fashion house was dior. Dietrich herself would often don menswear along with her other luxe fashion looks, and almost always wore a hat, no matter the ensemble. Dietrich had said in multiple interviews that she prefers “men’s” clothes over “female” clothing.
Sir Elton John was an LGBTQ+ icon long before he came out in 1990s. The British music legend was embraced by the LGBTQ+ for his Flamboyant on-stage costumes in the 1970s. John had also come out as bisexual at this time so aided in him gaining his gay following. In 1992 Elton John publicly came out as gay and launched the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised millions for HIV/AIDS programs across the globe. He married his long-time partner, David Furnish, in 2014. Elton John’s large 70s square framed bejewelled sunglasses are still a staple in 2020 fashion and unite a every growing community of LGBTQ+ supporters.
David Bowie is yet another LGBTQ+ icon. His glam, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust was often seen sporting colourful jumpsuits and bright hair, gaining Bowie his gay following. In 1976, he came out as bisexual, saying that “it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” He later revealed that he was actually a “closet heterosexual” and was more interested in LGBTQ+ culture as a whole. Bowie is known for defying gender norms and merging the boundaries masculinity and femininity.
Freddie Mercury is certainly rock music’s most celebrated gay icon and idol to the LGBTQ+ community. Although the lead singer of Queen never publicly came out as gay it was revealed after his death. Freddie Mercury often sported flamboyant outfits and hairstyles and would allude to his sexuality with his campy stage performances and sexual expression. A very private man, Freddie quietly dated partner Jim Hutton throughout the ’80s. Sadly, he died in 1991 from AIDS-related illnesses.
Madonna is known for her sexual expression in her lyrics, music videos and image. Madonna was also one of the first major superstars to show support for the LGBTQ+ community during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Prince has been celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community since he came onto the music scene in the early ’80s. Much like Bowie, Prince wasn’t scared to merge the lines of gender norms and was often seen wearing heels, makeup and vibrant clothing, Prince presented an androgynous look that LGBTQ+ fans loved. His fashion broke boundaries and still sets trends to this day. The metallic two piece he is sporting in the right photo was inspiration for Saks Potts new collection and is already a hit for 2021. Prince’s music exuded with sexuality making many of his song’s LGBTQ+ anthems and contributed to his position as a gay idol.
Madonna was first embraced by the LGBTQ+ community in the 1980s and has been a powerful force within the community ever since. The pop stars most notable gay anthem is Vogue released in 1990 Madonna took inspiration from the New York ball scene and took dancers from the balls on her tour. Madonna is known for her sexual expression in her lyrics, music videos and image. Madonna was also one of the first major superstars to show support for the LGBTQ+ community during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Of course, this article wouldn’t be completed without the infamous RuPaul. RuPaul Charles has become the most visible and prominent Queen to date and is an incredible style icon both in and out of drag. When someone says drag, RuPaul is always the first to come to mind. The Emmy-winning television show host does much for the LGBTQ+ community. Most notable RuPaul found a way to monetise drag giving queens a both a platform and a voice. Two of the most valuable tools in educating about the LGBTQ+ community. The fashion icon, does not shy from any clashing prints or bold colours, donning everything from pink zebra-print suits to metallic gowns and tulle masterpieces. Oh, let’s not forget the rhinestone atelier gowns! There is simply nothing RuPaul cannot wear.
Lady Gaga, the host of the 2019 CAMP met gala has never been one to back down from a bold look. The award-winning singer actively promotes queer culture and has stood by the LGBTQ+ community since early days in her career.
Billy Porter also known as the king of the red carpet. The LGBTQ+ star has transformed red carpet fashion in the last few years. Billy Porter is never one to shy away from a bold fashion moment. The Pose star isn’t scared to defy the boundaries of fashion and is a great example of clothing has no gender. He is often seen in heels, dresses, skirts and not afraid to wear a whole bejewelled fit. Billy Porter is always caught in something fabulous.
Lady Gaga, the host of the 2019 CAMP met gala has never been one to back down from a bold look. The award-winning singer actively promotes queer culture and has stood by the LGBTQ+ community since early days in her career. Lady Gaga has many hit songs which are considered anthems and loved by the LGBTQ+ community. Many of her looks have gone down in history, let’s not forget the controversial meat dress which was worn by Gaga in protest of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; a US policy that prevented openly gay people from serving in the US military. My favourite is her 2019 Golden Globes, Judy Garland inspired dress, pictured in the right photo.
So, if you’re ever in need of some serious fashion inspiration look no further than these LGBTQ+ icons of both the past and present.
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