Name: Nico Tortorella, 29
Who He Is: Actor/model
Why He Matters: Illinois native Tortorella climbed the showbiz ladder, first as a model, then appearing in a series of TV shows like The Beautiful Life & Younger and in movies such as Scream 4. Along the way, he’s spoken candidly about the complicated nature of his same-sex attractions and his gender fluidity.
Why We’re Proud: Tortorella earned a reputation for intentionally raising eyebrows on social media and in interviews to provoke difficult conversations about sexuality, gender and the intersection of the two. Proudly bisexual, Tortorella propelled education about anti-bi sentiments from both straight and gay people. He’s also challenged stereotypes of sexuality head-on: earlier in 2018, he married his longtime lesbian girlfriend, Bethany, while wearing a wedding dress.
The outfit more than hinted at something else. Tortorella also came out as gender fluid this year, refusing the label “cisgender.” He says he’s still figuring out the pronoun situation; for now, he uses “he.” Needless to say, coming out as bi and refusing to conform to a single gender has earned Tortorella his own troll flock. A number of those trolling voices actually come from other queer people, and Tortorella has highlighted the prejudices that remain within our community while challenging us to do better.
In a recent interview, he opened up about the importance of talking about gender and sexuality, even among LGBTQ people:
The message of this conversation, the way I use the word ‘fluid’, transcends any gender behavior or gender expression. To really shape-shift and to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be all the time–that changes who you’re surrounded by, the environment you’re in and where you are in your life. You can’t break something that bends.