We are pulling out some of the responses to the AMPLIFY survey for a closer examination. These are open-ended questions and people take liberties with their interpretation. What I did here was use a word cloud program that eliminates common words like ‘the’ and generates word size in proportion to frequency. So the largest words are the most frequently mentioned responses.
This is the question
“Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why.”
And here are the responses
As you can see, Ellen DeGeneres (or just ‘Ellen’) is the most frequently mentioned response, referenced by more than 22% of the current contributors. Her first name is in a larger font than her last name because many people just used her first name which reflects just how universal her appeal is.
The second most popular response is Laverne Cox followed by RuPaul, Brian Kinney, Audre Lord and Korra.
Ellen, Laverne and RuPaul are actual people, not characters. Some contributors mentioned specific characters they’ve portrayed in television and film, but most simply lift up the actors themselves. Audre Lord is a poet, author and activist and while a few respondents mentioned her characters, they mostly seem to admire her as a creator. Finally, there is Brian Kinney from the Pittsburgh based drama ‘Queer as Folk’ and Korra from the animated series ‘Legends of Korra’ both of whom are referenced as the character (no mention of the actors or animators or voices.)
Again, it is important to put this in context because it was an open-ended question. Some contributors listed multiple people while others listed just one favorite (and mentioned having to think hard to pick just one.” Let’s take a closer look at the actual responses
Ellen DeGeneres. She is one of the first women I can recall coming out on TV. She is kind, generous and funny. I like her style. ~ Cindy
hmmmm… it’s not a character… exactly… it’s Audrey (sic) Lorde in Zami. ~ Gloria
when i was very young the only thing I could identify as “gay ” was Daffy Duck’s drag career. Later on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had some amazing “queer coded” characters and story lines. Nowadays I’m amazed at the openness of gay characters and story lines. I recommend Avatar: the Legend of Korra to anyone. ~ Sam
I love Ru Paul for setting the stage for queens to showcase their talent in front of millions of viewers straight and gay. ~ DJ Scott
I don’t know that I can single out just one. I grew up, and have remained, profoundly bookish, so most of my favorites are writers who have influenced the way I perceive and filter the world: Samuel R. Delany, Edmund White, Dennis Cooper, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Frank O’Hara, and Patti Smith. ~ Erik
I would have to go with Kate Bornstein on this. Someone gave me a copy of Gender Outlaws and I couldnt get enough of it. I like how it gives all different perspectives and experiences of Trans masculine, Feminine, and non binary identifying individuals. ~ Kaley
Micheal Cain and that gay dude from the British TV comedy Are You Being Served! No trans folk I can think of now or then call it shade if u want just none have struggled like me or a lot of the girls I know. ~ Jazmine
Should I have one? ~ Sara
There’s a lot more to unpack in these responses, but this gives you some sense of how diverse our community can be with regard to whom they invest their respect, whom they allow to touch their hearts and minds.
How would you answer this question? Please tell us in the comments.