How Many LGBTQ People Are On The 'TIME' 100 List For 2017? There Aren't Many, But The List Reflects Society's Attitudes
On Thursday morning, TIME released its annual list of the most influential people in the world, and as you can probably guess, it's not exactly a diverse group. If you're wondering how many LGBTQ people are on the 2017 TIME 100 list, there's obviously no way to tell for sure; many people prefer to keep their sexuality private, particularly when they're under scrutiny as a public figure, and being married to someone of the opposite gender doesn't automatically mean they're straight — in case you forgot, bisexuality is a thing that exists. Basically, not all LGBTQ people are publicly out, and it's not our business to pry into someone's status anyway.
That being said, there are a few openly LGBTQ figures on the list this year — at least four: Designer Raf Simons, actor Sarah Paulson, television personality RuPaul, and transgender high school student Gavin Grimm. Additionally, singer Demi Lovato is a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights, and she's previously said she doesn't think her sexuality needs a label, so the case could be made to include her in the count, as well. (Honoree Barry Jenkins may have directed the instant LGBTQ classic/surprise Oscar winner Moonlight, but he doesn't identify as LGBTQ himself.) It's not exactly an overwhelming amount of representation, but considering the barriers facing the LGBTQ community in general, let alone on the path to positions of power, I'll take it.
So who are the LGBTQ honorees? Any high fashion devotee will recognize Raf Simons, the Belgian designer who worked as Christian Dior's creative director starting in 2012. Three years later, he announced he was leaving the label, and this spring, he debuted his first collection as Calvin Klein's chief creative officer.
You'd be hard-pressed to find any American who wouldn't recognize the iconic drag queen RuPaul after eight seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race. "It’s incredible what he’s done for the drag queens who compete on that show — bringing them out, introducing them to a mainstream audience and letting them be proud of who they are and what they want to be," wrote Naomi Campbell in her profile of RuPaul for the TIME 100 list.
Sarah Paulson is an actor known for roles in American Horror Story and 12 Years a Slave, and it's worth noting that she and (maybe) Lovato are the only LGBTQ women on the list. Given that there are only 40 women honorees overall, it's not exactly surprising that they're outnumbered by men, but who wouldn't like to see some more powerful LGBTQ women recognized? It's not a fault of TIME, but hopefully the next year will see more openly LGBTQ people in positions of power.
Finally, transgender student Gavin Grimm was catapulted into the public eye not long after he began transitioning. Upon hearing that he was using the boy's bathroom, which corresponds to his gender identity, some parents at Grimm's school complained. After the school board banned him from using the men's room, he sued the district; his case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Although it was later sent back down to the fourth circuit, he continues to advocate for transgender rights.
No matter what our opponents say, this isn’t about bathrooms or privacy. it’s about our right to exist in public as who we really are.— Gavin Grimm (@GavinGrimmVA) April 20, 2017
Any list of powerful figures will reflect societal norms; it's no secret that some people have a far easier time reaching the top of the ladder than others. The TIME 100 is no different — men have always outnumbered women on the list, and LGBTQ honorees are decidedly scarce. Instead of laser-focusing on the negatives, though, it's important to note that representation is improving, albeit slowly. Let's hope that next year, there will be more LGBTQ honorees, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the ones who were chosen in 2017.