Even at a glance, the contributions that members of the LGBTQ+ community have made to the fashion world are seemingly countless. In fact, it is fair to say that many of the greatest style icons, both past and present, have been part of the community.
As Pride Month begins to wind down, let’s take a moment to appreciate these pioneers of style, both real and fictional.
1. Billy Porter
If there’s one person who’s been blazing through the pages of every fashion magazine and the annals of social media these past few months, it’s the wonderful, multi-talented Billy Porter. From his incredible royal guise at this year’s Met Gala to the jaw-droppingly intricate suit-gown hybrids he’s worn on several red carpets, Porter stuns with ever-increasing frequency.
2. St. Vincent
The wildly creative musician Annie Clark, who professionally goes by St. Vincent, consistently brings that creativity to her style as well as her music. Sporting daring geometrical designs in music videos and on tour, St. Vincent manages to maintain a specific edge to her style without ever appearing stale or half-hearted. And of course, her greatest accessory is that beauty of an electrical guitar she carries everywhere.
3. Laverne Cox
Since her groundbreaking roles in shows such as Orange is the New Black, for which she became the first trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, Laverne Cox has been making waves in the fashion world as well. While she often sticks to her signature style of bold, colorful gowns and sleek hair, she definitely isn’t afraid to think out of the box with her looks. This was proven by her look for the Met Gala this year, where she appeared in an elaborate black dress featuring dreamy, uniquely colored accents.
4. David Rose on Schitt’s Creek
For the first fictional character on this list, it seems appropriate to honor David Rose, a character on the Canadian TV show Schitt’s Creek, played by Daniel Levy. There is much to say about how fashion is put to tremendous narrative use in the show at large, but David, who identifies as pansexual, possesses a style that is deeply distinctive yet consistently fascinating enough that it bears singling out. While he mainly wears shades of black, gray and white, David achieves some surprisingly unique and courageous looks within his limited color palette.
5. Janelle Monáe
When it comes to exploring and expanding the bounds of artistic possibility, few are as practiced as musician and actor Janelle Monáe. This trait is incredibly evident in the ever-fresh and evolving outfits she wears to events as well as in music videos such as those for her last album, Dirty Computer. Although she was once well-known for her trademark sharp black and white suits, in recent years she’s been branching out. Her style can be summed up in a single word: fearless.
6. Samira Wiley
Another Orange is the New Black alum, Samira Wiley also plays a crucial character on The Handmaid’s Tale. She is married to a woman and forthright about identifying as a lesbian woman, as her OINTB character was. Wiley’s style is notable because she loves to play with texture and shape, from the eye-catching two piece dress above to more edgy metallic garb.
7. Bill Potts in Doctor Who
Although Bill Potts only appeared on the acclaimed British TV show Doctor Who for one season, she made a lasting impression. Played by Pearl Mackie, Potts was the show’s first openly gay companion, and she was deeply beloved by fans. Potts was visibly proud of her identity, often donning rainbow patterned clothing and accessories. Her outfits were always fresh – quirky, colorful and emblematic of the brightness of her character. It’s that radiance that cements her as one of the most fashionable characters on the show, and on television in general.
8. Vivek Shraya
Vivek Shraya is a multi-talented artist and writer who currently works as a creative writing professor in Calgary, Canada. Due to her work as well as her evocative style, Shraya has been featured in multiple publications in recent years. Her near-constant application of the bindi is a lovely homage to her culture, and the extravagant jewelry she pairs with her colorful outfits is unforgettable.
9. Indya Moore
One of the breakout stars of FX’s Pose, which also features Billy Porter, Indya Moore has been blazing through appearances since they started on the scene. Moore, who identifies as non-binary and plays a trans woman on their show, was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World this year. And that influence extends to fashion, as their outfits at various events have been grandiose and intricate. Although they haven’t been working in Hollywood for very long, we’re sure they’ll only continue to wow us with time.
At first glance, popular musician Syd’s style of dressing may seem casual and rather effortless. Often, her tour outfits and appearances involve a simple white tee or a dark hoodie paired with jeans or sweats. But it’s the gravitas with which she wears these often simple ensembles that makes her image so compelling. After all, style isn’t just about being flashy or loud – sometimes it’s about looking just understated enough to spark interest. And Syd always manages to do that.
11. Jason Wu
It would be truly remiss to compile a list like this without including any actual fashion designers. Jason Wu is a trailblazing designer who identifies as gay and, despite being only 36 years old, has established an international brand beloved by people such Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle. His designs involve classic and daring silhouettes alike, with a skillful selection of colors and shades for each garment. He’s an important representative of and for both the LGBTQ+ and the Asian-Canadian community.
12. Ezra Miller
There’s an otherworldly sheen to Ezra Miller, a kind of cryptic gloss that is inextricable from his public appearances and interviews. This must certainly serve him well in his recent role in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise. It undoubtedly does when it comes to his outfits, particularly in recent years, as he’s become increasingly inventive not just with his clothing but his makeup and accessories as well. We can only look forward to whatever he’ll unveil next, a slight hint of anticipation in the air.
Raveena Aurora is an Indian-American singer based in New York City who identifies herself as bisexual. She recently released her first full-length album, entitled Lucid. Not only is she musically talented, Raveena also has an impeccable sense of style. Much of the clothing she wears on tour and in her music videos are made by her sister, Reena Aurora, and they are imbued with the same dreamy beauty that distinguishes her music. Effusive with bright colors and luxurious silhouettes, her outfits make the visual aspect of her performances deeply enjoyable.
14. Tessa Thompson
Few actors in Hollywood have inspired the level of buzz Tessa Thompson has in the last couple of years, and with good reason. Not only is she extraordinarily talented, having taken roles in various culturally relevant projects, she’s a wonderful advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Many characters Thompson has played have had impressive wardrobes, such as Detroit in Sorry to Bother You (2018) and Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok (2017). But Thompson’s own style rivals theirs, as she consistently stuns in sleek, daring ensembles.
15. Keiynan Lonsdale
While we love Keiynan Lonsdale’s characters, most notably Kid Flash and Bram in Love, Simon, we adore his off-screen persona even more. The imaginative way he uses fashion to reject traditional gender norms is an inspiration, both culturally and aesthetically.
16. Carol Aird in Carol
When you think about influential queer films within the last few years, it’s no surprise that Carol (2015) immediately springs to mind. The character of Carol Aird, played by Cate Blanchett has ensconced herself in the LGBTQ+ film canon, and with good reason. One of the ways Carol asserts her power in the film is through her impeccable, graceful wardrobe. It makes it all the more simple to fall for her along with Rooney Mara’s character, Therese.
17. Sarah Paulson
A familiar face to viewers of American Horror Story and Ocean’s Eight (2018), Sarah Paulson is a talented actor with a quirky yet elegant sense of style. She has a penchant for designs that might feel a little peculiar at first glance, and is not afraid to stray out of her comfort zone.
18. Big Freedia
As the person credited with helping the genre of bounce music gain mainstream acclaim, Big Freedia is certainly accustomed to having a huge impact. While her forte is music, her sense of style also merits attention as she’s carefully cultivated a wonderful, eccentric image that brings the effervescent joy of her music to her appearance as well. We can definitely see why everyone from Beyoncé to Drake has been highlighting her influence in their work!
19. Tegan and Sara
A Canadian pop band formed by identical twin sisters, Tegan and Sara have cemented themselves in the annals of the genre with their irresistible hits and ever-relatable ballads. In addition to their prolific music career, they are both openly gay and support the LGBTQ+ community through various channels. The synchronization in their music crosses over to their style as well, since they often wear complementary outfits in public. With their trademark chic jackets and angled dark bobs, they have become iconic for exuding an effortless sense of cool.
20. Hayley Kiyoko
Dubbed “Lesbian Jesus” by her fanbase, Hayley Kiyoko is one of those figures in pop music who make us glad to be living in this era. Since her hit Girls Like Girls was released in 2015, Kiyoko’s advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community has continued to grow. Her style is quirky and colorful with just enough edge to keep us guessing at what she does next.