VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Woman of the Year 2014!
VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Out Woman of the Year 2014!
Please join us in reminiscing about the year in out women! And don't forget to VOTE!
The early part of 2014 may forever be remembered for its high profile, diverse coming out stories. A-list actress Ellen Page, pageant queen Djuan Trent, and actress Emily Rios all came out publicly during the first half of the year, while Robin Roberts just continued to be a beacon of visibility for her fearless coming out over the holidays in 2013. It was also a year in which legends including Lily Tomlin and Rosie O’Donnell found themselves on top and in the spotlight again. From creatives like Dear White People’s Lena Waithe, and Orange Is the New Black’s Lauren Morelli to activist and attorney Roberta Kaplan, queer women thrived in 2014.
Please join us in reminiscing about the year in out women, and don’t forget to VOTE for who you think should be Woman of the Year. We will close the voting on Monday, Dec. 22, and announce the winner that day. You can vote for multiple people per submission once a day until then. And while we are ostensibly voting for a #1, these 21 women are already all Women of the Year for their continued success and their devotion to furthering visibility and representing LGBT women.
Singer, Songwriter and Spoken Word Artist Mary Lambert
Most performers might find it hard to top a year where they not only became a household name, but also saw their work nominated for a Grammy Award, and then shared a stage with Madonna. But most artists aren't singer/songwriter Mary Lambert.
After bursting onto the airwaves as the angelic voice crooning the infectious chorus to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's marriage equality anthem "Same Love" last year, Lambert has only continued her ascension to icon status. Following the aforementioned Madonna duet at the 2013 Grammys, Lambert kicked off 2014 a new romance, followed by the release of a powerful, two-part video for her spoken-word piece "Body Love." With a keen, critical perspective that has quickly become a hallmark of Lambert's work, the track picked apart the damaging societal forces that tell everyone — especially women, LGBT people, and those who are plus-size — that they aren't beautiful unless they look like a magazine model.
Lambert's summertime single lightened the mood significantly, with the poppy, unapologetic "Secrets" earning radio play nationwide while still speaking to the fact that "they tell us from the time we're young / to hide the things that we don't like about ourselves."
In October, Lambert released her debut album, a poignant, soulful record aptly called Heart on My Sleeve. It maintained Lambert's signature emotional depth, taking listeners deep inside Lambert's uniquely queer perspectives on love, loss, heartache, and redemption.
Lambert was also honored by SheWired's sibling publication this year, as one of The Advocate's 40 under 40, which proclaimed that Lambert's self-described "over-sharing" is helping us heal. And for the sake of our souls, psyches, and soundtracks, here's hoping the good, gorgeous doctor keeps doling out the sweet salve of lyrics that speak to our pain while simultaneously giving us hope that we can overcome it.
WNBA Star Brittney Griner
Hoops star Brittney Griner's sophomore season in the WNBA only proved that she's shook off the rookie blues. This year, Griner came back with a vengeance after an injury sidelined her for some of last season when she and her team, the Phoenix Mercury, won the WNBA championship in September. On top of getting engaged and putting out her first book in 2014, Griner put pay inequity on the map when she made public that her WNBA salary $49,440, is 12 times less than her salary playing overseas in China, where she earns $600,000 for three months of play. With all that, Griner's got plenty to look forward to: she and her fiance, fellow basketball player Glory Johnson of the Tulsa Shock, are planning to tie the knot.
Screenwriter, Director, and Actress Desiree Akhavan
If you didn’t happen to catch screenwriter, director, and actress Desiree Akhavan’s wonderfully authentic and quirky feature film Appropriate Behavior at the festivals this year, you’re in luck as it’s getting a theatrical release this January. The 29-year-old Smith and Tisch School of the Arts grad, wowed audiences with her wry comedy about an Iranian-American bisexual Brooklynite (as Variety describes Akhavan) navigating relationships, acceptance, and life as an adult. While the film does not reflect Akhavan’s life per se, she does share those qualities with her lead character Shirin. On similarities to her character Akhavan told Variety, “I wanted to paint a picture that reflected sexuality as I knew it, which was more fluid, but also reflected coming out as I knew it, which was more gradual or subtle.”
Prior to Appropriate Behavior Akhavan was likely best known in the queer community for her web series The Slope, which she co-created with Ingrid Jungermann.
Hailed by Variety as possibly “the next Lena Dunham,” Akhavan is slated to appear on Dunham’s hit HBO series Girls this season. With that endorsement and Appropriate Behavior landing in theaters in just a few weeks Akhavan is certainly a woman in Hollywood to watch, and we definitely need as many of those as we can get!
Good Morning America Anchor Robin Roberts
When the Today Show or CBS This Morning are trying to catch Good Morning America in the morning show ratings race, they can copy interview formats or redesign sets, but they can never have Robin Roberts.
Roberts is the most liked woman on morning television. That's what the polls say, called Q Scores, which are basically annual approval ratings for TV personalities. It's hard to understate the importance of an out lesbian being essentially invited into American living rooms each morning to start the day. That used to be the territory of happy-haired, white, straight women such as Katie Couric.
But watch any episode of GMA and you'll quickly see why Roberts is so beloved. First of all, she was incredibly open about her battle with cancer and the country rooted for her recovery. Then when she finally came out, at about this time last year, it was like a member of your family was finally telling you about the woman she loves — Amber, who she met nine years ago on a blind date. But the versatile former ESPN sportscaster is every bit at home in an interview with President Obama (a historic moment in which he came out for marriage equality) and hosting country music awards.
Don't miss this interview Roberts did with Ellen DeGeneres. It's like a collision of the two most loved woman of morning TV — and they just both happen to be lesbians.
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Oscar Nominated Actress and Producer Ellen Page
When Ellen Page delivered an earnest, clearly nerve-wracking coming-out speech at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive event in February, the A-list actor gave us one more reason to swoon over her (aside from her stellar, lady-centric film choices and ever-evolving, dapper style).
"I am tired of hiding, and I'm tired of lying by omission," Page said in February. "I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I'm standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain."
The simple act of coming out in such a high-profile way within the straight male-dominated world of Hollywood would be enough to add the talented Ms. Page to our annual list, but February marked only the beginning of her meteoric rise. Just hours before Page came out, news broke that her passion project costarring Julianne Moore, lesbian drama Freeheld, was finally moving forward.
Oh yeah, and then there was that little franchise where Page was a literal superhero as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days of Future Past. (We're going to resist making the obvious joke about the fitness of her character's name.)
And in case you weren't swooning hard enough over the 26-year-old actor, 2014 was the year Page also showed off her comedy prowess, with a hilarious Funny or Die spoof of HBO thriller True Detective, alongside Kate Mara as "Tiny Detectives," a spot-on Halloween costume as Rachel Maddow, and, oh yeah, that epic Twitter account where she not only graciously renames the family pets pictured in photos fans send her, but offered on-point observations about life and an impressive takedown of a homophobic pastor who tweeted at her.
\u201c2 da Pastor who wrote me-Being gay isn't a belief.My soul isnt struggling& I don't want arms of Heavenly Father around me.A girls arms? Yes.\u201d— Elliot Page (@Elliot Page) 1395510583
If you're still looking for those arms, Ellen, we have some volunteers.[skip to voting page]
Actress Emily Rios
Professor, Novelist, and Essayist Roxane Gay
Actress and Singer Evan Rachel Wood
Since coming out as bisexual inEsquire in 2011, Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress Evan Rachel Wood has been an ardent voice for the “B” in LGBT, facing the subject head on via Twitter or when questioned by the curious (sometimes clueless) media. One of this year’s Out 100, Wood not only continues to be a voice for bisexual women, but also an incredibly supportive friend to her Into the Forest costar Ellen Page, who bravely came out at a youth conference on Valentine’s Day.
Regarding Page’s coming out Wood has said, “She was born to make that speech, and it’ll be referenced for years to come.”
Watching the public part of Wood and Page’s friendship unfold in pics on Twitter is just an added bonus for following the two pioneers on social media.
This spring Wood stepped out for the LA LGBT Center’s An Evening with Women where she absolutely slayed three songs including Garbage’s “Queer.”
For those, like us, that there’s never really enough Wood, she’s also slated to star in the HBO's small-screen version of the Sci-fi classic Westworld.
YouTube Star and Author Hannah Hart
YouTuber, Hannah Hart, perhaps better known as “Harto,” is a force to be reckoned with. The 28-year-old’s YouTube Channel, MyHarto, has more than 1.5 million subscribers and features celebrity guests including Sarah Silverman, Lance Bass, and Tyler Oakley. In addition to her tremendously popular channel, she’s a best-selling author, travel lover, and pun creator. L.A. Weekly writer Sara Rashkin referred to Hart as a "soft-butch beauty,” who inspired her fans to adopt the term "Hartosexuals.” And, at the annual GLAAD gala in San Francisco, with Tyler Oakley’s help, she presented the first Ric Weiland Award to Google’s marketing chief, Arian Dijk. Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen series (which is also the name of her cookbook) won a 2014 Streamy Award for Best Comedy and secured her status as one of the Internet’s most influential LGBT talents.
Comedian and The View Host Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell is back on TV, and already rumors hit gossip columns saying the former "Queen of Nice" extended her reign as a terror to work with. It's all been dismissed by O'Donnell and the creators of The View as typical media exaggeration. All we know for sure is that O'Donnell is as relevant as ever.
So long as she's on a talk show, people won't stop talking about her. O'Donnell should be appreciated for her longevity alone, first becoming such as huge success with daytime's Rosie O'Donnell Show during the '90s. Then she shot back into living rooms with her first stint hosting The View. It ended quite publicly with a screaming match between her and conservative cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Thank the TV gods that Hasselbeck decided to move onto her rightful place at Fox News. Now Rosie is back, and she is her same entertaining yet opinionated self (although rather subdued this time around). Once again, we get to geek out on Broadway, share stories about her large family, and crush on celebs, all while arguing over politics. It's like being home again. And if that's not enough, we love to see O'Donnell in her recurring role as Rita, the social worker with a big heart, on ABC Family's The Fosters.
AfterEllen Editor In Chief Trish Bendix
Producer Lena Waithe
In these modern times, what do you do when the media you consume doesn't reflect you? Make your own media. Lena Waithe is part of a pioneering movement of black women who are tired of not seeing their lives reflected on screen, so with her web series, Twenties, she's tackling race, gender, and sexuality. Of course with a sense of humor. But most notably this year, she and her pal Justin Simien took the web series Dear White People to the big screen, in a pointed film about race and sexuality on a college campus.
Model, DJ, and TV Personality Ruby Rose
Model, DJ, and TV personality are only some of Ruby Rose's titles. She caught the public's attention in a striking way this past summer when she starred in a short film called Break Free. The short beautifully explores what it is like to identify as a person who walks a fine line of gender boundaries in which she seamlessly transitions from a feminine self to a more masculine one. The film offers a heartfelt glimpse into the gender-nonconformance. Rose is well known in her native Australia, but she's rapidly making herself a name in the states. She became engaged to fashion designer Phoebe Dahl this year and now calls Los Angeles home. We are looking forward to see how Rose continues to awe us with her beauty and her message.
Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent
Model Rain Dove
Attorney Roberta Kaplan
Attorney Roberta Kaplan won a victory for marriage equality at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, and now she’s trying to repeat the feat in one of the nation’s most conservative states. Actually, she’s already done so — sort of. In November a federal judge struck down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage, but his ruling is on appeal, so gay and lesbian couples can’t get married there quite yet. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is supposed to hear the case early in January, and we have no doubt Kaplan will be as awesome in that venue as she was in the trial court, where, among her arguments, she demolished the assumption that marriage equality will lead to a move for legalizing polygamy: “I’ve been litigating these issues now for a very long time, [and] people have made this argument to suggest that there’s going to be this huge groundswell of litigation about polygamy if we win. And it’s never happened and it, frankly, never will happen.” One court observer wrote, “Watching the brilliant Roberta Kaplan and the State’s attorney argue this case is like watching Aretha Franklin versus a drunk, bumbling fraternity guy in a singing contest.”
Orange Is the New Black Star Samira Wiley