Earlier this year, we featured some truly amazing artists, activists, and achievers. Now that we're at the midpoint of 2015, here's an updated list of brand-new names and faces. Meet them below, and remember their names, because they're doing some amazing work.
John Early The next time you're looking for a reason to laugh in New York, consider attending John Early and Jacqueline Novak's show Cakeshop. Alternately, check out Early's one-man comedy-variety show Literally Me. You might recognize the actor as Jenna's son from 30 Rock or from the delightful Web series Your Main Thing. Early's comedy is sharp and revealing, and he's unafraid to be silly; we are huge fans. Also, our search for information about the phrase "John Early" turned up this article about a Canadian fracas, so there's that.
Beth Malone Did you catch her on the Tonys? Beth Malone originated the role of Alison Bechdel in Fun Home (well, technically, Bechdel originated it by being born, but Malone originated it on Broadway). It's hard to imagine an actress more suited to the role or the show -- she has such a magnetic stage presence that you just can't stop looking at her, even when she's just sitting there calmly watching someone else act.
Mata Haggis Fragments of Him is an arresting interactive experience -- it's not quite right to call it a "game" -- in which you engage with people whose lives are affected by the death of a man in a same-sex relationship.
"In the game, the character talks about his dead boyfriend," Haggis explains. "I felt that the story would work perfectly with either a male or female partner character, but I also feel that nonheterosexual relationships are underrepresented in gaming, and so I had a preference for making both characters male."
Cristan Williams Executive director of the Transgender Foundation of America, editor of the TransAdvocate, jurisdictional representative to the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services ... there simply isn't enough room on this Internet to list all of Cristan Williams's accomplishments and qualifications. If none of those other roles rang a bell, you might know her from her efforts to end policies that exclude trans women from feminist events and women's festivals.
Oscar Raymundo A San Francisco writer with credits in Inc, Vice, and Rolling Stone, Oscar Raymundo just finished work on Confessions of a Boy Toy, an erotic sci-fi fantasy novel about a gay cyborg and his passionate affair with an older, wealthy executive. The book is set in San Francisco in the year 2049 (by which point we can probably assume that the millionaires who have taken over the city will have turned on each other and returned to a feral state) and deal with questions about objectification, self-worth, the impact of technology on society, and what it really means to be human.
Jon Gibson and Amanda White Together, Jon Gibson and Amanda White run iam8bit, an epicenter of nerdy art in Los Angeles. Art gallery, think tank, production company -- it's impossible to categorize exactly what their project is, aside from "the only name you need to know when thinking of the intersection of video games, creative work, and otherworldly experiences." Among the pair's finest work is crafting a space that is welcoming to queers, women, minorities, and pretty much all humans -- a true treat.
Gordon Bellamy Hey, who's that gregarious fellow advising a whole generation of gay-run gaming startups? Why, it's Gordon Bellamy, who keeps his fingers on the pulse of the queer game space: Incendiary Games, QuizTix, Pocket Kings, Midboss Games, Ninja Metrics, So Much Drama, and Fun Bits all look to him for guidance. He also leads the Gay Gaming Professionals group and has solid dude-bro cred, having designed a Madden football game and consulted on the Spike TV Video Game Awards. In his spare time he tri-captains the dodge ball team Hogwarts School of Bitchcraft and Dodgery.
Anita Dolce Vita She's a cancer research nurse, has executive-produced unHeeled: A Fashion Show for the Unconventionally Masculine, and is busy building New York City's largest queer fashion show for New York Fashion Week. Anita Dolce Vita runs DapperQ, which reaches "masculine-presenting women and trans-identified individuals," and now she's taking the fashion world by storm with Verge, a party highlighting "eight independent designers whose work is systemically rooted in notions of gender nonconformity and its intersections with race, ethnicity, and culture."
Adam Baran Former online editor and contributing editor at BUTT Magazine,Adam Baran's main focus these days is a fascinating documentary project called Northwest Passage. It tells the story of Travis Blue, whose childhood in a small Washington town was turned upside down one day when he stumbled across a film crew shooting the pilot of Twin Peaks. Fascinated by the transformation of his hometown into a fictional world, Blue saw his life soon came to mirror Laura Palmer's in dangerous, disturbing ways. We cannot wait to see this documentary.
Mike Stabile Activist and filmmaker Mike Stabile knows pretty much all there is to know about every angle of the adult industry, having covered it for TheNew York Times, Salon, Playboy, The Daily Beast, and more. Now he has a new documentary called Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story, pulling back the curtain on how gay porn laid the foundation of LGBT liberation. Keep an eye out for it at a queer film fest near you!
Pup Tugger That gasping sound you heard last month was the audience at International Mr. Leather as Pup Tugger strode across the stage, resplendent in high-femme leather. Tugger, serving as Mr. Phoenix Leather, upended everyone's ideas about what a leather man is supposed to be and single-handedly opened the community's mind to the possibility of celebrating gender expression beyond the cartoonishly masculine Tom of Finland archetype. We see amazing things in Tugger's future.
Michael Horwitz "Skanky Lisa Frank" is how a friend of Michael's described him, and that sounds about right. A Seattle-area illustrator, Michael can be caught drawing portraits at bars, creating fliers and zines, and making up soap operas on Facebook.
"I love making things that are rooted visually in stuff that I loved as a kid, be that ballet, classic portraits, superhero comics, cartoons, fashion magazines, and Lifetime TV," he says. "I also try to emphasize and announce my own sexual and romantic desperation, like in the My Boyfriend Walt Whitman Facebook soap opera. In that project I dated someone named Walt Whitman for eight months; he liked to write poetry and I liked to remind people that I have a boyfriend who wrote poetry. We were a very creative couple."