LGBTQIA+ creatives and voices to know on PBS

Discover LGBTQIA+ authors, artists, musicians, playwrights & creatives
Published on October 23, 2023 by Madisson Haynes

From artists and musicians to playwrights, poets and countless other inspirations, LGBTQIA+ individuals leave their mark on the world. PBS brings their stories to light, showcasing their impactful contributions and the inspirational narratives that are reshaping our cultural landscape. These LGBTQIA+ voices are not only changing the face of creativity but also advancing the cause of acceptance and understanding. Check out our roundup of LGBTQIA+ creatives below and on the PBS App.


Fanny: The Right to Rock

Co-founded by Filipina American and queer teenagers, Fanny is the first all women band to release an album with a major record label (Warner/Reprise, 1970). Revered by David Bowie, meet the most ground breaking rock group you've never heard of... yet.

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Little Richard: King and Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Experience the meteoric rise and enduring legacy of Little Richard. This portrait of the “King and Queen of Rock and Roll” explores his far-reaching influence as well as his advocacy for the rights of Black artists in the music industry.

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Gladys Bentley: Gender-Bending Performer and Musician

Gladys Bentley joined New York’s Harlem Renaissance jazz scene at age 16 and became an instant sensation and gender identity pioneer, performing piano and vocals at the most popular gay bars, wearing men’s clothing, and openly flirting with women in the audience.

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Jibz Cameron AKA Dynasty Handbag

Explore the work of performance artist Jibz Cameron, known onstage as the outrageously absurd Dynasty Handbag.

More from Queer Genius

No Straight Lines

When Alison Bechdel received a coveted MacArthur Award for her best-selling graphic memoir Fun Home, it heralded the acceptance of LGBTQ+ comics in American culture. From DIY underground comix scene to mainstream acceptance, No Straight Lines explores five smart and funny queer comics artists whose uncensored commentary left no topic untouched and explored art as a tool for social change.

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Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life

Explore four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally’s six groundbreaking decades in theater, from Kiss of the Spider Woman, Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class to Ragtime, The Visit and Mothers and Sons. The film also delves into McNally’s pursuit of love and inspiration throughout his career, LGBTQ activism, triumph over addiction, and the power of the arts to transform society.

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Eileen Myles

Prolific lesbian poet and novelist Eileen Myles recounts their life and artistic growth in New York and Marfa.

More from Queer Genius

Poet H. Melt

H. Melt, a 25-year-old trans poet, is challenging conventional ideas of gender through their debut poetry collection, "The Plural, The Blurring." Growing up in a community of young poets in Chicago, Melt noticed the lack of authentic and joyful representation of trans lives in media and literature. 

They advocate for a more holistic portrayal of the trans experience, focusing not only on the challenges but also on the affirming and validating moments. Melt's work seeks to break down binary notions of gender and create a world where individuals can express their identities without rigid constraints.

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Poet H. Melt.
Poet H. Melt. | Credit: Photo by Kiam Marcelo Junio

Jubi Arriola-Headly

Jubi Arriola-Headley is a Black, queer poet and first-generation American whose work explores themes of manhood, vulnerability, and joy. He recently released his debut collection of poems, “Original Kink.” 

As part of our arts and coverage series, CANVAS, he gives us his Brief But Spectacular take on the call to write, and the world that has shaped him.

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The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin examines the life and work of one of the world's most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose Tales of the City books have inspired millions to claim their own truth. The film includes Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen, Amy Tan, and Maupin himself.

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Mama Gloria

Mama Gloria is a feature documentary about Gloria Allen, a 75-year-old Black trailblazing transgender activist who started a charm school for homeless trans youth and is now aging with joy and grace. It is the story of a mother’s love – the love that Gloria’s mother had for her and the love that Gloria has for her chosen children.

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The story of Bayard Rustin, openly gay civil rights leader

This Pride Month, as part of our “Hidden Histories” series, we look at the contributions of Bayard Rustin, one of the driving forces of the civil rights movement, whose life as an openly gay man relegated him to behind-the-scenes roles much of the time.

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James Beard: America's First Foodie

This food movement can be traced back to one man: James Beard. His name graces the highest culinary honor in the American food world today — the James Beard Foundation Awards. And while chefs all around the country aspire to win a James Beard Award, often referred to as the “culinary Oscars,” many of those same chefs know very little about the man behind the medal.

James Beard

America’s First Foodie: The Incredible Life of James Beard tells the story of the Portland, Oregon native, who had the first cooking show on television (1945); who was the author of 22 cookbooks along with a syndicated newspaper column and countless magazine pieces; and who ran an acclaimed cooking school out of his townhouse in New York City.

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