For “Gay Icons,” a show of photographic portraits at London’s National Portrait Gallery, 10 famous gays and lesbians, such as entertainer Elton John and athlete Billy Jean King, chose “icons” for the exhibit, based on their inspirational qualities and achievements. The sexual orientation of these role models was only occasionally a factor in their selection. For example, Harvey Milk, the slain San Francisco County Supervisor, made the list specifically because he was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.
So here’s a question: Why the exclusionary title “Gay Icons?” We can all be inspired not only by men and women featured in the exhibit, but also by the achievements of the 10 members of the selection panel.
Princess Diana, Mandela Labeled ‘Gay Icons’ in London Exhibit [Bloomberg.com; March 26, 2009]