Cher as a gay icon
Life as an LGBT icon
The reverence held for Cher by members of the gay community has been attributed to her accomplishments in her career, her sense of style and her longevity. Alec Mapa of The Advocate elaborates: "While the rest of us were sleeping, Cher's been out there for the last four decades living out every single one of our childhood fantasies... Cher embodies an unapologetic freedom and fearlessness that some of us can only aspire to." Cher has often been imitated by drag queens. Thomas Rogers of Salon magazine commented that "[d]rag queens imitate women like Judy Garland, Dolly Parton and Cher because they overcame insult and hardship on their path to success, and because their narratives mirror the pain that many gay men suffer on their way out of the closet." Cher's performance as a lesbian in the film Silkwood as well as her transition to dance music and social activism in recent years has further contributed to her becoming a gay icon.
Her older child, now Chaz Bono (born Chastity Bono), first came out as gay at 17, which caused Cher feelings of "guilt, fear and pain". She later characterized this as "a very un-Cher-like reaction." However, Cher soon came to accept Chaz's sexual orientation, and reached the conclusion that LGBT people "didn't have the same rights as everyone else", [and she] thought that was unfair. She was the keynote speaker for the 1997 national Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) convention. Cher has since become one of the gay community's most vocal advocates. On June 11, 2009 Chaz Bono came out as a transgender individual, and his transition to male was legally finalized on May 6, 2010.
In 1998 Cher was honored with a GLAAD Media Award (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and in November 1999, The Advocate named Cher as one of the '25 Coolest Women'. In October 2005 the Bravo program Great Things About Being... declared Cher "the number one greatest thing about being gay." William J. Mann, author of Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay and Lesbian, comments "[w]e'll be dancing to a ninety-year-old Cher when we're sixty. Just watch", and in a 2007 'Top Ten Gay Icons', formed by Digital Spy, it was stated that: "US comedian Jimmy James was spot-on when he quipped: "After a nuclear holocaust, all that will be left are cockroaches and Cher"." The NBC sitcom Will & Grace acknowledged her status by making her the idol of gay character Jack McFarland. Cher guest-starred as herself twice on the sitcom, in 2000 and 2002. In 2000, Cher made a cameo on the show, in which Jack believed her to be a drag queen and said he could "do" a better Cher himself. In 2002, she portrayed God in Jack's imagined version of Heaven.
- Madonna as a gay icon
- Janet Jackson as a gay icon
- Judy Garland as gay icon
- LGBT history
- Queer theory
- Mapa, Alec (April 15, 2003). "We love you, Auntie Cher". The Advocate (887). p. 51. ISSN 0001-8996.
- Rogers, Thomas (January 21, 2009). "Where have all the drag queens gone?". Salon.
- Bernstein, Robert (2003). Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 166. ISBN 1-56025-452-1.
- Plumez, Jacqueline Hornor (2002). Mother Power. Sourcebooks. p. 182. ISBN 1-57071-823-7.
- "Chaz Bono, Cher's child, becomes a man after Southern Californian judges grants gender change". Herald Sun. May 7, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- "The Advocate's 25 Coolest Women". The Advocate. November 23, 1999.
- "Great Things About Being... Queer". Great Things About Being... 2005-10-04.
- Mann, William J (2004). Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay and Lesbian. Citadel Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-8065-2563-0.
- "The Big One: Top Ten Gay Pop Icons" (news). Gay Spy. Digital Spy. July 28, 2007. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- "Memorable Will & Grace guest stars: Cher". Entertainment Weekly. March 30, 2006. Retrieved March 22, 2009.