As the year rolls to a close, I thought it would be fun to count down the thirteen LGBT people of color who epitomize the word “fabulous”–a synonym for what we all are in this community. Here’s a “baker’s dozen”–to signify the New Year, even as we look back on the old. Let the fanfare–and the inevitable debate–begin!
#13 Sahara Davenport
Reality TV star and drag performer Sahara Davenport makes our list because she’s not just another drag queen. Before appearing on LOGO’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, Davenport earned a Bachelor’s degree in classical dance. As a vibrant, visible icon of our community, Sahara Davenport was an outspoken advocate of our rights, and often appeared at local NYC happenings, such as Drag Night at Bartini’s in Chelsea. Sahara was fabulous because no matter how glamorous her TV life, she always found time to connect with all of us, everywhere she went. Although Sahara passed away far too soon, she earns her posthumous inclusion on her list for being “meowingly” sweet and sassy!
#12 Justin Terry-Smith
Justin Terry-Smith is the well-known HIV/AIDS activist, leather-community favorite, and children’s book author, who does so much to enrich the lives of our LGBT community, fabulously. Terry-Smith appears regularly on television to educate the public about living with HIV, and his video blog, Justin’s HIV Journal, has put a very human face on the plight of gay men of color struggling with this modern-day plague. His children’s book, I Have A Secret, is an illuminating look at a fictional child born with HIV, written to enlighten other kids. For his diligence, caring, and sometimes brutal honesty, (which makes him fabulous) Justin Terry-Smith joins our list this year.
#11 Tona Brown
No list of fabulous LGBT people would ever be complete without Tona Brown. She is an accomplished concert violinist, gifted vocalist, and leader of the Aida String ensemble. She’s also the first transgendered person ever to sing for a sitting President of The United States–President Obama–when she delivered the National Anthem in June 2011 for him. Tona also devotes time to teaching children and young adults how to play musical instruments, and continues to be a source of encouragement to LGBTs everywhere. Classically fabulous!
#10 Marck Angel
Marck Angel is the voice that sings the songs which play in our heads long after we’ve heard the track. With his unique style and mesmerizing melodies, Marck is always exploring new ground in the pursuit of his art. His work was featured in the soundtrack of the hit film, Finding Me: Truth and has been included in several TV series as well. He recently performed at the Out Music Awards in Las Vegas, and is always ready to make the stage fabulous!
#9. Ardranae (Data) Byer
Bringing us the inspiring and intriguing stories of LGBTs every month, is IKON-ic publisher and photographer Ardranae ‘Data’ Byer. She’s the person behind IKONS Magazine, which has become a staple of the lesbian community. With the need to make our own voices heard every year, Ardranae is passionately dedicated to doing just that. Her willingness to make it fabulous and noteworthy is her lasting contribution to all of us, and places her prominently among her peers on our list.
#8. Dwight Allen O’Neal
Now you KNOW you can;t have fabulous without putting it on the big screen for all to see! That’s the raison d’etre of actor, screenwriter, and producer Dwight Allen O’Neal. Through his production company, Off The Clock, Dwight has created shows that explore the issues that are unique to gay men, without ever losing sight of just how extraordinary we really are. Beginning with Christopher Street TV (CSTV), he has endeavored to bring his artistic vision to the world. Educated in New York at the American Music and Dance Academy, Dwight’s latest project is a continuation of the story begun in CSTV. Entitled CockTALES, this new “dramedy” takes a bold new look at all the different kinds of men in our community. Fabulously entertaining!
#7. Dane Joseph
Another thespian of stage and screen who makes our list this year is Dane Joseph, co-creator and star of the runaway hit Web series Drama Queenz. This engrossing saga of three struggling actors trying to get their big Broadway break, has captured the imagination of the black gay community. Dane is also a filmmaker, with a new feature, Langston’s, on the way. His depictions of gay men of color range from the poignant to the absurdly hilarious, but all are fabulously real!
#6. Aurora Jonez
Real Talk is Aurora Jonez’ watchword. She’s the no-holds-barred host of the acclaimed radio show, Living Life Aurora, the worthy successor to the highly popular Bent Radio series. Both programs delve deeply into the inner workings of the LGBT community, with guests both subtle and boisterous, all speaking out loud about the trials and turbulence we face every day. Aurora herself is unflinchingly, fabulously unpretentious, and when she broadcasts, we all sit up and listen!
#5. Carson Hall
Young, talented fashionista Carson Hall is Giving You A Look…and it has “fabulous” written all over it! It’s a delightful treat to watch Carson as he continually reinvents his style, and teaches the LGBT nation even as he learns more all the time. A rising star in the trendy NYC fashion world, Carson is never at a loss for an eye-catching ensemble, because all the street’s his runway. His indomitable spirit in the face of adversity makes Carson someone we’ll be admiring for years to come.
#4. Lonnell Williams
Atlanta native Lonnell Williams has had it on and popping for years now! Best known for his unforgettable 3LWTV and Pillow Talk online video series, Lonnell has always kept us on the cutting edge of the latest happenings and hottest personalities in our community. Not one to shy away from controversy, Lonnell has kept it real and encouraged honest dialogue about issues some of us are often too squeamish to address. Looking towards an even more fabulous future, Lonnell has recently befriended media queen Oprah Winfrey, and there are great things coming down the pipeline with both of them in 2013!
#3. DeMarco Majors
DeMarco Majors, athlete, actor, model, and LGBT advocate, has been a definitive presence among the gay community for a long time. A former pro basketball player (with the ABA), DeMarco went on to star in the irresistible LOGO TV series Shirts & Skins, launched his modeling career, appeared in the covers of all kinds of gay publications, and became a public LGBT activist, making HIV-prevention public service announcements. His unforgettable beauty is stunning, and his candor and grace are uplifting. Larger-than-life, but unmistakably fabulous!
2. Delvon Johnson
Stylist to the stars, author, actor, producer, and television show host Delvon Johnson makes our list of fabulous LGBTs, with a whole slew of superlatives. He’s written two hit novels, Love Yourself First and its sequel, Be Careful What You Ask For, acted on stage (the Off-Broadway production of Cybersex), screen (CockTales, Drama Queenz), produced a TV series (Justus), appeared in national magazines (Fashion Avenue News, Women’s Essence), styled celebrities (most recently reality star Karen Gravano of VH1’s Mob Wives), and is now hosting his own fashion-oriented TV program, Style ‘N Beauty Cafe, on new national network UBC-TV. Delvon also works closely with noted fashion designers in the NYC area, such as Adrian Alicea, and his own personal, unique look adds to his fabulous cachet. Delvon has also been active in LGBT causes, serving in the Executive Board of NYC Black Pride, and marching in protests against gay-bashing. Fantastically multi-talented, he’s the very meaning of “fabulocity”!
#1. Frank Ocean
The chart-topping R&B singer Frank Ocean rocked the music industry last summer, when he came out to the world on his blog. “I feel like a free man,” he wrote, describing his love for a young man he had a relationship with several years ago. Bravely facing the possible consequences to his career (retail giant Target, for example, refused to sell Ocean’s CD, Channel Orange, after he came out), Frank admirably encourages LGBT youth to be themselves. As an artist and as a person, Frank Ocean has shown that sexuality is part and parcel of our humanity, even as he demonstrates that talent transcends sexual orientation or identity. For fabulously filling our hearts with PRIDE, Frank Ocean tops our list this year!