Brittney Griner, Aubrey Plaza and more queer heroes make TIME 100 influential people list

Brittney Griner smiles while wears a red, white and blue Team USA Olympic basketball jersey

TIME magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2023 has named LGBTQ+ legends and allies including Brittney Griner, actresses Aubrey Plaza and Jennifer Coolidge, and GLAAD chief executive Sarah Kate Ellis. 

The list, now in its 20th year, aims to recognise the impact, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential people, with a number of LGBTQ+ leaders and allies making the list this year. 

Highlights of the list also include award-winning journalist Imara Jones, the chief executive of OpenAI, Sam Altman, gay men’s fashion designer Thom Browne, gay comedian Jerrod Carmichael, bisexual singer Steve Lacy and gay photographer Wolfgang Tillmans.

Brittney Griner gets ‘s**t done’

Featured under the icon section was out basketball star Brittney Griner, who was praised in a profile written by five-time Olympic-gold-medallist basketball player Sue Bird as a woman that gets “s**t done”. 

In the tribute, Bird wrote about Griner’s detainment in a Russian prison where she spent almost 10 months. 

“It brought to light the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained around the world, and BG continues to use her platform as a sports superstar to advocate for their release,” she said. 

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President Joe Biden announced in December that Griner was being freed following her imprisonment after being convicted in August on drug charges and sentenced to nine years in prison. 

She was arrested at a Moscow airport in February 2022 after reportedly being found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The WNBA star told the Russian court she made an “honest mistake” and “never meant to break any laws”.

Griner appealed against her conviction, but it was rejected by the court. She was sent to a penal colony and endured what has been reported as gruelling living conditions

Following her release, Griner made her first public appearance on 16 January to take part in a march in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, in Phoenix, Arizona, alongside her wife Cherelle. 

Jennifer Coolidge is ‘uncompromisingly, exquisitely herself’

Also featured as an icon, and she certainly is a queer one, is Jennifer Coolidge whose profile, written by fellow actress Mia Farrow, described her as “uncompromisingly, exquisitely herself”. 

In March, Coolidge paid a touching tribute at the GLAAD Media Awards where she spoke about her love of being surrounded by gays. 

Sarah Kate Ellis: ‘One of the most important voices in modern politics’

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD, which works to create a world where everyone can live the life they love, was also named in TIME’s influential list as an innovator. 

Ellis has run the organisation since 2014 and launched the GLAAD Media Institute, which has gone on to teach tens of thousands of queer advocates around the world how to best lead LGBTQ+ advocacy campaigns in their own communities.

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette contributed the profile of Ellis in which she called her “one of the most important voices in modern politics”. 

Arquette wrote: “Amid the introduction of more than 450 anti-LGBTQ bills in 2023 alone, Sarah Kate has made clear how this type of legislation negatively impacts the LGBTQ community and causes violence.”

Aubrey Plaza: ‘She befriends the misunderstood’

Parks and Recreation’ star Aubrey Plaza made list under the artists category, with a profile written by writer, producer and Emmy-Award-winning actress Amy Poehler.

The recent Saturday Night Live host was described by Poehler as a “profoundly talented woman with big plans”. 

She added: “Aubrey loves an outsider. She roots for the underdog. She befriends the misunderstood. She has learned the glorious freedom that comes from not wanting your approval.” 

The actress – who has previously said she falls in love “with girls and guys” – revealed to The New Yorker in February that she had a dig at Joe Biden while at a youth conference when she was just 16. 

Apple chief executive Tim Cook and US footballer Megan Rapinoe were named among several LGBTQ+ stars in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2022.

Dolly Parton, Bowen Yang and Lil Nas X were among the LGBTQ+ stars and allies were honoured in 2021.

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