Written by Alice Sanders

In The News

My Queer-oes

As the Pride march winds its way through London tomorrow, participants are being asked to celebrate their #PrideHeroes. Here’s Alice Sanders with some suggestions.

Ruby Rose

Ruby Rose photo by Eva Rinaldi via Wikimedia Commons.

Tomorrow it’s Pride in London town and this year the theme is heroes – #PrideHeroes if you want to get involved on The Twitter.

Historically, female sexuality hasn’t been a visible thing. Put simply, women haven’t been as visible, let alone queer women. This means that in the past there’s been a paucity of Female Queer Icons.

But, over the past five years or so, we’ve been treated to a host of lesbian, bisexual and trans women on the world stage, shining incandescently for all to witness their beauty and fierceness. I couldn’t have possibly fitted in all the brilliant women I wanted to, but here are a few of my personal favourites…

Sue Perkins

Show me a man, woman or child that doesn’t love Sue, and I’ll show you someone with a necrotic soul. I’ve loved Sue since Light Lunch, the daytime show she co-hosted with Mel Giedroyc in the 90s. In those days, I loved her with a ferocity I didn’t understand and I just knew there was something about her… Now she and Mel present The Great British Bake Off and make a lot of double entendres. If there’s a cake, pastry, bread or dessert-based double entendre, I can guarantee you Sue has or will make it. And, you know, I’d nibble on her cannoli, even if it had a soggy bottom! Oh god, I’m so sorry – see, that’s why it’s Sue’s job!

Ellen DeGeneres

I don’t think we can talk about lesbian visibility without talking about Ellen. I first became aware of Ellen in the 90s by watching her sitcom Ellen. In those days I loved her with a ferocity I didn’t understand, and I just knew there was something about her…

Only then, I did know, because after Ellen came out on the Oprah Winfrey show (what a way to come outta the closet!), Ellen became the first openly lesbian actor to play an openly lesbian character on TV. That’s why we pray to her with thanks every time a hot woman asks us out. “Thanks Ellen,” we say, “couldn’t have done it without you.”

Then there was her chat show which won more than 25 Emmys and the YouTube clips of her with funny little kids who dance or sing or do impressions of Nicki Minaj. Ellen isn’t just swimming in the mainstream now: she’s leading all the other fishes.

Johanna SigurdardottirJóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Take note Britain: not only did Iceland have a female Prime Minister, they had a lesbian Prime Minister. She’s a social democrat (this is where I get a really dreamy eyed) who helped Iceland to overcome its financial crisis. I’ll give you a tip – it wasn’t with austerity measures.

She also made the phrase ‘my time will come’ extremely popular in Iceland. If I have a broken washing machine, or my TV’s on the blink, I always ask one of my football team to sort it out.

So, washing machine, economy – whatever’s broken, it’s always best to get a lesbian to fix it!

Ruby Rose

Well, if Ruby Rose isn’t the Mega Queer of Right Now, I don’t know who is. Obviously, she is in the new season of Orange is the New Black – why haven’t you finished it? Cancel all social interaction forthwith! – but before she was Piper’s other object of lust*, Ruby was busy being a model and the face of Maybelline in Australia.

I’m not going to get overly excited that the fashion and beauty industry might be opening themselves up to the idea of another kind of beauty other than the heteronormative kind, because Ruby Rose is classically beautiful. But she identifies as genderfluid and made a video called Break Free, in which she transitions from presenting as feminine to masculine:

So thank you, Ruby Rose, for showing that there are different ways for women to present themselves, and that gender can be fluid.

*Hang on, Piper gets Alex Voss and then Ruby Rose whilst she’s in prison? I’m off out to do a crime right now.

RuPaul

I know, I’ve put a man on the list of Female Queer Icons. I will present myself for trial at the Lesbian High Committee. I got into Drag Race last year and when I say ‘got into’, I mean became utterly obsessed. RuPaul elegantly weaves serious and important gay issues into a programme that is essentially America’s Next Top Model, but with more sequins, taping, and tucking… and humour and cursing.

RuPaul reclining regallyBut what RuPaul also did was help me to enjoy being a woman again. I understand drag queens come at being a woman with male privilege, which is not to denigrate any of the other issues they face. When I was younger, I think I dressed in order to not be looked at as a sexual object, because I was scared and confused by my own sexual identity. Think jeans, and baggy jumpers that come down to your knees. As I grew up, it was a big ‘fuck you’ to the patriarchy, proving that I wasn’t here for the sexual gratification of men.

But the thing is, you see, I love dressing up. I like dresses and sequins and glitter and lipstick. RuPaul taught me that you can pick the parts of femininity that work for you – “Gentlemen start your engines, and may the best woman win” – that you can construct and deconstruct your gender – “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag” – and that the best place to start from is knowing and loving yourself: “If you can’t love yourself, then how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”

Amen, Ru, amen.

Gillian Anderson

We should change the well-known idiom to ‘aging like a fine Gillian Anderson’ because, my god, that woman gets more beautiful with every beat of a butterfly’s wings.

My love of Gillian Anderson began when I was a young teenager watching The X-Files. In those days I loved her with a ferocity I didn’t understand, and I just knew there was something about her…

Gillian Anderson in The FallMy love for her hasn’t petered out since and if things were still released on VHS then my copy of The Fall would’ve got those fuzzy white lines at that bit where she kisses another woman. Gillian Anderson told the media she had previously had a relationship with a woman. And in that one sentence, she gave the gift of hope to every queer woman on this earth. Gillian also said that she would consider having another relationship with a woman in the future. And then, in an interview in The Telegraph, went on to say that it was about time someone was brave enough to ask her out.

So here it goes… Gillian, would you like to have a drink sometime? I’ve got a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and it’s aging like a fine Gillian Anderson…

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Written by Alice Sanders

Alice Sanders is a freelance writer. She writes articles, audio description for the visually impaired, and fiction. She also performs with comedy improv troupe The Pioneers. @wernerspenguin