Prime Timers: A New Age for Activism

From authors and actors to artists and activists, these 25 LGBT prime timers are still on the front lines in the battle for equality and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.



Jim French, 81, Photographer
Jim French is a legendary perfectionist. He also has an amazing eye for what is attractive, sexy, and well composed. He combines an erudite eye and classical aesthetics with the grit and sweat of the muscular moment to achieve a visual ideal of sexual beauty in men that no one had experienced before.

French was a successful a commercial artist who founded Colt in 1967 as a vehicle to house his erotic work. French came to use the camera more and more as he made his magnificent drawings, often under the name Luger.

For more than 40 years, French has been the king of the perfect male photograph. He published his first book of male photography, Man, in 1972, and out in September is his Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor: Jim French Polaroids. These are his first images with an early Polaroid camera that he took mainly as reference material for his drawings. This is a rare chance to see the master at work.

Tenacity and patience are required to the best physique models the world had ever seen. But physical perfection was not enough, French created images that were spontaneous, heroic, perfectly composed, and often infused with his sexy sense of humor. He opened the door for the next generation of stellar photographers like Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber.


Meredith Baxter, 66, Actor
Best known for the TV shows Family and Family Ties, Meredith Baxter received a warm welcome to our family after she came out in The Advocate and on the Today show in 2009. The actress who played Elyse Keaton was also hoping to change some hearts and minds among straights. “The message I get is that I’m America’s mom,” Baxter told The Advocate at the time. “And because research seems to show that people who have someone who is gay in their family — or a friend or just know someone in the community who is gay — they seem to have a more open attitude about gay and lesbian issues. So I can say I’m still that mom. I am still the same person. I’m nonthreatening, I’m very friendly, I’m accessible, and if they can say, ‘OK, well, she’s a lesbian, maybe that’s not such a scary thing. And if she can come out and say that without too much fear, then maybe I can do that.’ If it makes a difference to a couple of people, then I guess it’s worthwhile.” Since then, Baxter has continued her acting career — one of her most recent appearances was this year on Glee — and written a candid autobiography, in which she discussed being a survivor of alcoholism, breast cancer, and domestic abuse (by second husband David Birney, she says) as well as coming to terms with being a lesbian. Baxter, who has been with partner Nancy Locke since 2005, is a frequent public speaker on her life experiences and lessons learned.