terrific people

10 Queer Superheroes: Entertaining Us While Saving The Planet (No, Really)



WHO IS HE?: A Scottish-born actor who’s done work on TV, film, stage, and the occasional musical. You might smell like him.
BEST KNOWN FOR HIS CHARITY WORK WITH: Norm-UK, a voluntary organization which gives men medically supported advice on circumcision and the foreskin. Cumming considers circumcision an unnecessary genital mutilation.
WHY HE MATTERS: He’s got his talented fingers in lots of charitable pies, many of them devoted towards fighting homophobia and AIDS, advancing LGBT health, and promoting world peace; no, really.
QUOTE: “Actually I like working kind of fast, because if you got it, why bother doing it over and over? I like working on things that are very different and that involve different disguises. It is not hard to feel like an outsider. I think we have all felt like that at one time or another.”

Cumming does metric tons of charity work all over the world. Back in his home country, he’s a patron of Scottish Youth Theater, Scotland’s National Theatre ‘for and by’ young people. He’s modeled kilts for Dressed to Kilt, a fundraiser gala for paralyzed, wounded, and hospitalized veterans. He also walked the Great Wall of China to raise money for the American Foundation for AIDS Research “Treat Asia” program.

On this side of the world, the bisexual-identified LGBT rights campaigner has held a comedy benefit for the Trevor Project, performed on behalf of several AIDS charities—including AMFAR and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS—and is a member of the Creative Coalition, a non-profit that raises awareness about a variety of social issues (from artistic education to campaign finance). For a while, he donated 20% of the profits from his Cumming fragrance-line to the Empire State Pride Agenda, a lobbying group for gay rights in New York State and across the country. He’s a recipient of GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award, a recipient of the San Francisco Human Rights Campaign’s Humanitarian Award, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to film, theatre and the arts and activism for LGBT rights.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #entertainment #activism #alancumming stories and more


  • Nick

    Thank you for giving Boy George some of the props he deserves. (As well as all these other fantastic human beings, naturally) It’s always annoyed me how fast most Queers are to forget about him – he was, after all, out while Elton John was still married to a woman.

  • jeem

    Stephen Fry supports the FSF?!?!?!


  • GoodBoy

    Surprised that Elton John’s HIV work was not mentioned.

    Other than that, quite an informative and interesting list. : )

  • marksnyder

    So sad Rachel Maddow wasn’t on this list. She’s the true queer super hero! She’s smart, politically queer to the point of critiquing the gay marriage movement, and she understands intersectionality of issues. Plus shes hot and quirky.

  • mk

    @marksnyder: Maddow wouldn’t fit in on the list. It’s for people doing significant charity work who have their fingers in a number of pies outside their regular job. So far since becoming famous on TV Maddow has stuck to doing her regular job and the things you described like understanding issues has just been part of her doing that job.

  • Tommy

    Boy George doesn’t deserve to be on this list. He wasn’t just arrested for drugs, he was arrested for violently handcuffing another person to a wall and beating them with a chain. He has never apologized or shown remorse for that. Why do we as a community Idolize people like that? It is just wrong. Committing a violent crime like that and going to jail does not make you a terrific human being. Also, George has continuously attacked other celebrities in the media and rarely shown any generousity towards anyone.
    Also as far as charity work, he skipped out on gigs that were designed to benefit people with HIV and was sued by several AIDS care organizations. Hardly a charity role model. Yet he’s allowed to get away with that because he wears a lot of makeup.
    Also, like Elton while he wasn’t married he wasn’t out at the beginning of his career, but said he wasn’t gay but bisexual. Elton has raised far more funds for AIDS than George has.
    I agree Rachel Maddow would be a much better role model for young gay people than Boy George.

  • Tommy

    Another thing people should know about George and his “charity” work is that he was dropped by MAC because he refused to do the required public appearances to promote AIDS awareness because he was too busy getting high and chasing after rent boys.
    You should do your research before choosing role models.

  • Jake

    Look I love GaGa’s music but enough already. I’m 25 but why are all the young gay guys under 30 so warped into thinking GaGa is the greatest female pop artist in the world right now? She’s receycled a ton of Madonna’s ideas and even though the songs are catchy and fun they aren’t deep and meaningful. When Madonna sang Express Yourself it MATTERED. She sang about topics and causes 20 years ago most artists wouldn’t even touch today. I love GaGa (then again I like Britney too) but comparing her to a true pop icon like Madonna is like saying a pimped out Toyota Camry (mainstream and extremely popular) is like a new Jagular (still sexy and timeless after all these years).

  • Brad

    Where the heck is Rosie O’Donnell? Why isn’t she on this list? Certainly more worthy than Boy George. With everything she’s done promoting gay family rights, she has become the true definition of family values. “Love, not blood, makes a family.”

  • Jose

    well she’s only been famous for about a year or so
    considering what she’s done in all that time is pretty amazing

  • Yet Another

    Oh god. It’s not your dam list. You’re not going to agree with them all.

  • Olga

    Drew Barrymore is bisexual???

  • j

    Amazing list, with the exception of boy george. Best thing on queerty in a long time.

  • James UK

    I remember watching Culture Club on “Top of the Pops” in September 1982. I was just 15. Within a year I was officially out. Not that I was really ever in … I mean the boys at school knew I was queer before any of us knew what sex was.

    Still, the sight of George on national TV, was amazing to me. He was just beautiful. And very clearly queer. Like me. And in that moment, I knew something that I didn’t know before. That I could carry on. And I have.

    And I’ll always, always love George for that.

  • hudson

    @James UK: James- you could almost take your experience and transpose it to my own growing up on a farm in the middle of Saskatchewan, in the same year (and the boys seemed to know about me too). I first saw him on the evening news as this phenomenon steamrollering across the music scene. He was flamboyant and exciting and he inspired me to be a bit more myself. He may have gone sideways in his personal life, but I’ll still cut him slack.

  • alan brickman

    Boy George rules….should be knighted….

  • ted

    Wait – what?

    Gaga is not gay or bi or trans or anything, is she? Other than an over-rated piece of shite pop star, that is.

  • Daniel Villarreal

    Gaga is openly bisexual. And I also agree that Elton John would have been a far better choice than Boy George. Oh well, live and learn, I guess.

  • Wes

    Great list. But, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland didn’t come out in 2008. It came out just a few weeks back, in 2010.

  • adman

    Hey, where’s Tim Gunn? All he has to do is be himself.

  • Tommy

    @Brad I totally agree with you about Rosie O’Donnell. I don’t know why I didn’t think of her. Not only has she done a lot for gay families, she has also done a lot of work for other causes like chidren’s organizations and also promoted theatre.
    She has done work in a lot of areas, tv, film. stand up comedy, theatre etc so she is multi dimensional

  • [email protected]

    kele from bloc party, owen from final fantasy, ed from grizzly bear, rostam from vampire weekend. these guys are doing way more than ricky martin

  • Superman

    Some superheroes have alter-egos (i.e., “hidden” identities). In that case, you can go ahead and add Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper, and Oprah Winfrey to the list. And moi. Wink wink. :)

  • Larkan

    Where the hell is Clay Aiken on this list?

Comments are closed.