1. Caitlyn Jenner
You’d have to have been living – literally – under a rock for the entirety of 2015 if you are unaware of the phenomenon that was Caitlyn Jenner. It is arguable that no other personality has brought transgender issues to mainstream America like Ms. Jenner did this past year, despite the fact that there have been transgender men and women – such as Chaz Bono and Holly Woodlawn, among others – fighting for decades to gain broader acceptance and understanding for transgender issues. However, with the “Kardashian Effect” in her court, and the notoriety that came with being an Olympic gold medalist (Bruce Jenner was a HUGE star in the 7o’s), Caitlyn commanded magazine covers, won awards, and helmed her own reality show, I Am Cait. A polarizing figure in the transgender community, the LGB community, and the straight community, Caitlyn Jenner definitely deserves to be a nominee for this category – regardless of whether she is regarded as famous or infamous (or a Republican, unfortunately).
2. Eric Fanning
On November 3, 2015, Eric Fanning was appointed Acting United States Secretary of the Army by President Barack Obama. Fanning is the 22nd Secretary of the Army (the largest service branch of the United States Military) and the first openly gay head of any service in the U.S. military. When one considers that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed only five years ago, his appointment is another indication of the progress that the LGBT Civil Rights movement has accomplished. Due to his post, he is the highest ranking openly gay member of the Department of Defense. He also is in support of transgender individuals serving openly in the military.
3. Holly Woodlawn
Long before Caitlyn Jenner garnered headlines for being trans, Holly Woodlawn was making a name for herself in legendary underground films such as Andy Warhol’s Women in Revolt and Paul Morrissey’s Trash. Originally from Puerto Rico, she was also immortalized by Lou Reed in his iconic hit “Walk on the Wild Side,” detailing her journey from Miami to New York City and forever cementing her place in pop/music culture. Later in life she would remain active, touring with her cabaret act and remaining an outspoken voice for LGBT rights. Ms. Woodlawn died recently due to cancer, but her legend will live on surely for many decades to come.
4. Miley Cyrus
2015 was the year that Miley Cyrus stopped being fodder for the joke-mill and became a powerful voice for LGBT rights – not to mention the fact that she came out as pansexual. Outspoken and outrageous, she went from being a advocate to being a a member of the community, and we’re proud to have her among our ranks. Those qualities – and the fact that her performance at the VMA’s did more for the RuPaul queens’ Facebook feeds than actually being on Drag Race (I mean … seriously ladies … we get it … you performed with Miley Cyrus …moving on … ) – lands Miley a nod for Personality of the Year.
5. Ruby Rose
If there ever was an “It Girl” of 2015 (Google that term if you’re unfamiliar) it was Ruby Rose. The interesting – and wonderful – thing about this is that 2015’s It Girl was a gender-fluid lesbian. Model, DJ, recording artist, actress, television presenter, and former MTV VJ, there isn’t much that Ruby Rose can’t do in entertainment, and we couldn’t be more happy. Her no-nonsense attitude and graceful handling of her celebrity is refreshing, and there will – no doubt – be more to come from this rising superstar.