MAE WEST, Kylie Minogue, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, and Barbra Streisand may be adored by gays around the globe — — but they will not be part of a major summer exhibition announced by London's National Portrait Gallery titled "Gay Icons." Instead, a 10-strong panel [comprised of Elton John, Jackie Kay, Ian McKellen, Billie Jean King, etc.] has cast its net beyond the bygones and has gone in search of other names.
• • Intentionally, we have dropped the "sir" honorific from those blimps who would deny the Empress of Sex a place on the wall of fame.
• • And with all due respect to Judy Garland and La Streisand, it is not in the history books that those beloved songbirds went to prison fighting for gay rights as Mae did during the Prohibition Era. There is a great deal more that the Brooklyn bombshell did to advance the agenda for homosexuals, female impersonators, and drag queens. And many people have not forgotten that.
• • And though the British gallery bigwigs are being coy about which faces made it into the final round of five dozen, these individuals have been picked: painters Francis Bacon and David Hockney; civil rights martyr Harvey Milk; writers Quentin Crisp, Joe Orton, Dame Daphne Du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, and Walt Whitman; music makers Tchaikovsky, k.d. lang, Rostropovich, Will Young, and the Village People; entertainers Ellen DeGeneres, Kenneth Williams, and Lily Savage; also Nelson Mandela and Diana, Princess of Wales. Their stories will be illustrated by 60 photographic portraits including works by Andy Warhol, Linda McCartney, Lord Snowdon, Polly Borland, Fergus Greer, Terry O'Neill, and Cecil Beaton.
• • The National Portrait Gallery revealed several other "expected names" that will not be on display in London. Noticeably absent from this collection are: Mae West, Joan Crawford, Kylie Minogue, Dame Shirley Bassey, Oscar Wilde, Bette Midler, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Collins, Bette Davis, and Barbra Streisand. And no Liberace nor David Beckham neither.
• • The exhibition "Gay Icons" is set to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City.
• • Opened to the public in 1856, the National Portrait Gallery is situated in St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE, London, England.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • by Larry Salk • •
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