Meet the greatest LGBT icons over 70 years old

Celebrities and public figures who are embraced by the gay community – AKA gay icons – are no longer few and far between.

From Ellen DeGeneres to Lady Gaga, there are countless stars having an impact on LGBT lives through entertainment, music, fashion, glamour, strength and advocacy.

Here, however, we’re paying homage to some of our favourite gay icons (and allies) over the age of 70. (Not that you’d know they were.)


71-year-old Cher looks more glam, fit and fabulous than the majority of us ever have. More importantly, however, she’s one of the gay community’s most vocal advocates. As well as playing a lesbian in the film Silkwood, and cameoing in Will & Grace as the idol of gay character Jack McFarland, Cher supported her son Chaz Bono’s gender transition.

Bette Midler

Hocus Pocus and The First Wives Club star Bette Midler first gained gay icon status in the 1970s.

After performing on Broadway, Midler began performing at the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in the city.

“Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I’m still proud of those days [singing at gay bathhouses]. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of ‘Bathhouse Betty’ with pride,” Bette, who is now age 71, said in 1998.

Barbra Streisand

An LGBT rights advocate, Barbra is also a fierce liberal and is involved in women’s health issues.

75-year-old Barbra also has a gay son, Jason Gould.

She’s one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with more than 68.5 million albums in the US and a total of 150 million albums and singles sold worldwide.

George Takei

George Takei
80-year-old George Takei has become a staple of the gay community worldwide.

The Star Trek alum is a long-time proponent of LGBT rights, and was awarded an LGBT Humanist Award in 2012, as well as a GLAAD Vito Russo Award in 2014 – presented to openly LGBT media professionals who have made a significant different in promoting equality for the gay community.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 84, has become an unlikely hero for her infallible support for LGBT equality in the US, helping end discriminatory laws and securing equal marriage.

The Justice, known to her fans as ‘Notorious RBG’ has long supported equality, even attracting fury from conservatives for performing numerous same-sex weddings herself.

Betty White

A long time supporter of LGBT rights, Betty, 95, came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2010 and couldn’t understand why so many people were opposed to it.

Liza Minnelli

It’s only natural that the daughter of ultimate gay icon Judy Garland became a gay icon in her own right. (We haven’t included Judy, because we’re focusing on living icons. Apols.)

Liza’s Academy Award-winning performance as Sally Bowles in 1972 musical film Cabaret cemented her status as an LGBT icon, which she remains at the age of 71.

Dolly Parton

Also 71 years old, Dolly Parton has never let her country roots stop her from speaking out for equality.

The star loves her horde of Dolly Parton drag queen impersonators, joking that ‘they look more like me than I do’.

She has previously claimed that she has a large gay following because she also “fought for the right to be herself”.

“I don’t really know why for sure. I’m just happy it is,” she added. “I’ve often said people don’t come to see me to see me, they come to see me to see them.

“I’ve been around so long, so a lot of people grew up with me. I feel more like a family member or an aunt or an older sister or a friend.

“They know I’m a little different myself. I’ve fought for the right to be myself, so that is one of the reasons that the gays and lesbians relate to me.

“They know that I appreciate everybody for who they are. We are who we are, so why can’t we be allowed to be that?”

Alice Walker

Alice Walker, 73, is an American novelist, short story writer, poet and activist.

She wrote the critically acclaimed lesbian-themed novel The Color Purple (1982), as well as Meridian and The Third Life of Grange Copeland.

Openly bisexual, Alice is known for being sympathetic of all sexualities, ethnicities and races.

Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellan

Where to start with Gandalf?

78-year-old McKellen is a co-founder of LGBT rights lobby group Stonewall, and a patron of LGBT History Month, Pride London, Oxford Pride, GAY-GLOS, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, and FFLAG.

The actor has spent pretty much most of his professional life fighting for LGBT equality, when he’s not playing some of cinema’s most iconic characters.

He’s also often spotted larking around with Patrick Stewart…

Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

At 77 years old, Sir Patrick Stewart is such a great ally to the LGBT community that he’s been mistakenly labelled a gay man himself, despite being straight and married to a woman.

A close friend of Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen, who he seems to enjoy kissing, Patrick is a champion of gay rights and equality. He’s also a patron of domestic violence charity Refuge, just FYI.

We love LGBT allies – find out more about why P-Stew is one of the finest…

The Babadook

Babadook lgbt

The Babadook became an unlikely but glorious LGBT idol after starring in a 2014 Australian-Canadian psychological horror film.

Thanks to a hilarious Netflix mix-up, the murderous fictional creature’s flick was included in the streaming service’s LGBT Movies category.

People were tickled by the idea that a film about a bloodthirsty character who (spoiler alert) kills animals and tries to murder a child could be classed as LGBT.

But then, because the internet – and particularly Tumblr – is full of magic, fans started rallying around the Babadook’s brave decision to reveal his sexuality.

According to lore, the Babadook is an ancient creature.

Although his age is unknown, it’s assumed the Babadook is over 70 years old. His top hat is irrefutable proof, surely?

Elton John

Elton, age 70, found global fame for his music, with millions going to see his live shows around the world.

But for the past quarter of a century, Elton has also dedicated a huge amount of time to tackling the stigma against HIV AIDS and helping those with the infection.

His US not-for-profit, called the Elton John AIDS Foundation, was created in 1992, and established a year later in the UK. It has been recognised as the “largest HIV funder of programmes for transgender people.”

Holland Taylor

74-year-old Holland Taylor is best known these days for dating American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson, describing their relationship as “the most wonderful, extraordinary thing that could have ever possibly happened in my life”.

In December, the actress was also asked why it had taken her such a long time to come out as gay, to which she replied: “I haven’t come out because I am out. I live out.”

“I feel at this point in the conversation it feels kind of awkward. Now I feel very very shy of it. I’ve been really wrestling with this lately because most of my relationships have been with women and I don’t like talking about them because I don’t like talking about the politics of it all.

“I think we’re ridiculous in this country (the US) about it. Ridiculous.”