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9 LGBTQ Celebrities Who Stood Up to Their Bullies
When you leave the closet, there are often monsters waiting on the other side.
Unfortunately, besides coming out, one of the most unifying experiences amongst LGBTQ people is surviving bullying.
An overwhelming amount of queer people have been subjected to mistreatment for simply going to school. According to GLSEN, 85.2 percent of LGBTQ students have been verbally harassed, 63.5 percent have heard homophobic comments from teachers and school staff, and 63.5 percent who reported an occurrence of bullying said that their school did not work to protect them.
So, once a year, allies of LGBTQ youth celebrate Spirit Day by wearing purple to demonstrate that they will advocate for vulnerable victims when no one else will.
This year we're not just sporting violet, but paying homage to queer celebrities with purple hearts. These LGBTQ icons have battled their own bullies and demonstrated the power of standing your ground in the face of hate and haters.
When she broke on the scene with her comedy special Nanette, many raved that Hannah Gadsby's testimony about the threats lesbians face could change hearts and minds. Even her breakout performance touched on the abuses she's faced for being queer.
But that didn't stop fellow comedian Norm Macdonald from cracking down on her work not being good enough -- even though he never watched it.
"I have never seen the Nanette thing because I never wanted to comment on it. But from what I have read about it, [Gadsby] is saying that comedy is now not about laughter," said Macdonald, who was fired from Saturday Night Live in the late 1990s after calling Michael Jackson a "homosexual pedophile" and saying trans murder victim Brandon Teena deserved to die. He went on to say her performance was derogatory to people in her field.
"And of course that's a slap in the face of a traditional stand-up comedian who thinks that comedy by dictionary definition is about laughter. And that that's your job. You actually do have a job onstage."
Gadsby was quick to hold her ground and clap back at Macdonald's dismissal.
\u201cI'd never heard of this Norm McDonald bloke because I didn't want to make a comment about him. I don't like him though. #dickbiscuit\u201d— Hannah Gadsby (@Hannah Gadsby) 1536709166
Although President Donald Trump is known to bully many journalists, it seems he's paid extra attention to this openly gay news anchor. Trump has repeatedly mocked Lemon, claiming he's dumb.
When Lemon interviewed LeBron James about his school for at-risk children and racial divisions, Trump was quick to sound off.
\u201cLebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn\u2019t easy to do. I like Mike!\u201d— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1533353856
Instead of rolling in the mud with a pig, the acclaimed journalist did what he does best: give context. Lemon contextualized how Trump frequently attacks the intelligence of black public figures, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who Trump dubbed a "low IQ individual."
While many on the news debate Trump's racism, Lemon called it out in the clip below.
This bisexual singer has been bullied for being LGBTQ -- and not being queer enough.
On National Coming Out Day, the singer posted a photo of her Paper magazine Pride issue cover on Instagram to mark the LGBTQ observance. In it, she described herself as #OutAndProud and included three hearts in the bisexual colors.
That didn't stop commenters from claiming that because the bisexual singer is dating rapper G-Eazy, she's not a member of the LGBTQ community.
"Pride for what shes a straight girl who hook up with the occasion fm when shes high," said one user. "Nothing like grabbing that cash from both sides, few better role models in the gay community than a woman who likes sleeping with woman, but has a long-term boyfriend," another commented. "Sausage dogs don't eat tuna," another mocked in a seemingly endless parade of comments.
In response, Halsey posted a public service announcement on her Instagram story where she reacted to the hate.
"So I posted on my Instagram for National Coming Out Day that I'm out and proud, and everyone's commenting like, 'But aren't you dating G-Eazy?' So I wanted to take a moment to make a PSA to remind you that -- bisexual people. We exist."
Although naysayers might dispute that Halsey is actually part of the LGBTQ population, her concerts have been picketed by homophobic protesters. However, Halsey reminds us never to be ashamed.
\u201cpeople bring anti-LGBT religious propaganda to my concerts a lot and it\u2019s like, I feel like I\u2019ve done enough good in the world that God\u2019s gonna forgive me for eating some pussy.\u201d— h (@h) 1535395758
The Hate U Give star and longtime activist was subjected to racist bullying since she was 12.
When Stenberg was first cast as Rue in 2012's The Hunger Games, fans tore her apart. Although the books described her character as someone with "dark brown skin and eyes" the character would be white in the movies, according to many on social media. People took to Twitter to call her a "black bitch" and the n word.
"While it was hurtful when I was 12, it wasn't shocking," Stenberg told Buzzfeed Newsin 2018 while promoting her own teen apocalypse flick, The Darkest Minds. "There was resistance to having black girls in films, and that black women are dehumanized and their lives are seen as less valuable than white lives."
Rather than letting the hate derail her, Stenberg grew into a prominent activist who has taken on cultural appropriation, police brutality, sexism, homophobia, and colorism.
"I realized that I had a platform that could be impactful if I harnessed it," the gay, nonbinary actress explained. "It does feel really special to have begun my career with [The Hunger Games] and to be in a place now where I can be cast in the lead in this sort of thing. I don't know that that would have been possible at the time in the same way."
After The CW announced that Ruby Rose would portray Batwoman in a new special (and likely upcoming series), rather than celebrating that a lesbian actress scoring the role, the internet sought to tear her to shreds and out of her batsuit.
Twitter users went wild, saying how Rose wasn't a good enough actress to play the first openly gay superhero and that she wasn't a fit for the role because she (unlike the character) is not ethnically Jewish. #RecastBatwoman started trending, while people went as far to claim that because Rose is genderfluid she's not a lesbian, which she has identified as for over a decade.
Rose decided she didn't need to subject herself to the bullying. So, she shut down her Twitter account and disabled comments on her Instagram. But she made time to defend herself and the hypocrisy behind the criticism.
"Where on earth did 'Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can't be Batwoman' come from--has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I've ever read. I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with 'she's too gay' how do y'all flip it like that? I didn't change," she tweeted.
As highlighted by the vulnerable interview below, Rose is deeply invested in the role, regardless of blowback.
Just because critics have deemed her the second coming of Prince doesn't mean Monae was always treated like a princess.
A black queer woman who grew up poor, the singer often felt invisible and sidelined. "There were a lot of times I would stop recording [and] I would be deeply upset, angry," she told Annie Mac on her BBC Radio 1 show. She described her single "Django Jane" as a way to explain "feeling like my rights as a young black woman are constantly being trampled on."
"Living over in America and feeling like the people I love were pushed to the margins of society by the leader of the free world and that regime ... You do have to stand up for those who can't often stand up for themselves, so I do feel a responsibility to knock the hell out of the bully."
But Monae found a way to throw punches by putting down a beat. Her music centers around self-love and teaching the bullied to feel that they are worthy of respect.
"I wanted to make an album for all the dirty computers of the world," Monae said while promoting her newest album. "Those who are told that they have bugs and viruses, that they need to fix themselves, that they need to clean themselves."
To all of the people who feel like there is a flaw in their system, Monae offers a revelation: "Dirty computers [should] see their bugs and viruses as attributes, as features, as characteristics that help make society great and inclusive."
The androgynous beauty influencer has had a complicated past, full of bullying for his gender identity from a young age.
After his father committed suicide, Star grew up trying on his mother's makeup and wearing it to school. As a result, he was called the f word everywhere he went, including the comments section of his YouTube videos. As a result, Star started to self-harm, scarring nearly every part of his body, which he tattooed over when finding peace.
Although Star is always in a dramatic feud of some sort, the vitriolic hate he experiences for being queer could be crippling. Instead, he's developed resilience towards hateful comments, referring to himself as a sponge. He's even made a spoof video where he reads the most vile comments he's received and laughs them off with grace.
Even "Lesbian Jesus" herself has faced a few Judases in the limelight.
Known for unapologetically writing queer music, Kiyoko has faced a number of music industry executives who had homophobic responses for her starring in "another music video about girls," she told Refinery29. In response, she fired back: "I literally looked at them and was like, um, yeah... Taylor Swift sings about men in every single song and video, and no one complains that she's unoriginal."
"I'm not over-sexualizing my music," the singer noted. "I make out with women because I love women, not because I'm trying to be sexy. That's not to turn heads -- that's my life."
Some Taylor Swift fans felt these comments were attacking the feud-prone Swift, but the songstress herself rewarded Kiyoko for standing up to her bullies. "We should applaud artists who are brave enough to tell their honest romantic narrative through their art, and the fact is that I've never encountered homophobia and she has. It's her right to call out anyone who has double standards about gay vs straight love interests," Swift commented on Tumblr.
Swift even invited Kiyoko to perform on her Reputation Tour, where they sang her queer-centric "Curious" together. The moment was a milestone in Kiyoko's career: the first time she performed for a stadium of fans.[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BlvMolyDEuo/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_medium=loading expand=1 site_id=25879312 embed_desktop_width=540 embed_desktop_height=925 embed_mobile_width=375 embed_mobile_height=796]
Don't let her looks fool you, the outspoken model/actress has endured a significant amount of bullying for not being the "perfect" activist or Hollywood star.
After Beyonce's landmark 2018 Coachella performance, Delevigne posted on Instagram how the act "made me burst into tears and sent shivers down my spine." Delevigne has boycotted the festival since 2016, after its owner was exposed as a major donor to a number of anti-LGBTQ groups. Beyonce fans and others took aim at the British celebrity.
Delevigne defended herself -- saying that she can support black artists like Beyonce while still standing up for LGBTQ rights -- in an Instagram story.
"Some people are commenting on the fact that I posted about my anger towards the owner of Coachella and then about Beyonce. My hashtag was #Nochella," she wrote, referring to her anti-Coachella hashtag. "I still refuse to go to a festival that is owned by someone who is anti LGBT and pro-gun. I am allowed to shame that man and the festival and show my appreciation of an artist at the same time. Just because I love Beyonce doesn't mean I now love Coachella. I still wouldn't go. And I will let nothing get in the way of me showing my love or hate for something. Don't let anyone come between you and your truth."
But Delevigne faced someone who tried to attack her truth: disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. In 2017, she came forward and said that the predator attacked her for her bisexual identity in a strange phone call early in her acting career.
Weinstein asked her "if I had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media ... I answered none of his questions and hurried off the phone but before I hung up, he said to me that If I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public that I'd never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood," Delevigne explained on Instagram. Then he invited her to his hotel room where he tried to coerce her to kiss a strange woman, she says.
Not only did Delevigne get out of Weinstein's clutches, she now has a successful acting career (even getting a role in Tulip Fever, which was produced by The Weinstein Company.) She continues to speak up for women in and LGBTQ people.