107 Out LGBTQ Performers Changing the Face of Hollywood in the 21st Century

With LGBTQ stories in film and on TV more popular than ever before, it’s important to celebrate out-and-proud acting talents — particularly those without the non-binary awards’ categories they deserve.

In 2023, the state of Hollywood is unsure to say the least. But even as existential questions about the business of making entertainment persist, audiences and artists are grappling with equally critical questions of representation on screen. Among those questions: should queer roles be played exclusively by queer actors?

It’s an evolving conversation, getting at the very core of what makes the art of acting, well, acting. Last year, the industry’s resident good guy Tom Hanks gave an answer in regards to his Oscar-recognized role in 1993’s “Philadelphia.”

“Let’s address ‘could a straight man do what I did in ‘Philadelphia’ now?’” Hanks told The New York Times. “No, and rightly so.”

“The whole point of ‘Philadelphia’ was don’t be afraid,” Hanks continued. “One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”

“It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity,” he said.

Dozens of dazzling LGBTQ performers appear in casting rooms and on our screens every year; ready to take on the authentic queer stories we know plenty of audiences crave. Some queer performers have been around for decades, fighting the good fight before it was cool or hip to do so. Some may be newer to Hollywood, but are using their platforms to speak up for LGBTQ rights.

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Get to know these actors now. Then, check out IndieWire’s guide to 10 LGBTQ Film and TV Creators on the Rise in 2023.

Editor’s note: This list was originally published in June 2018, and has been updated multiple times since to reflect new comings outs and groundbreaking LGBTQ castings. It could never and will never be complete, but we hope it reflects the changing face of Hollywood as we bid goodbye to Pride 2023.

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