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GLBT (Gay; Lesbian; Bisexual; Transgender[ed]) Role Models

Studies have shown that teenagers and children need role models. This is especially true for GLBT (Gay; Lesbian; Bisexual; Transgender[ed]) teenagers who often cannot look to their parents; teachers; coaches; older siblings; or friends. Without role models of any sort teenagers are at risk (in higher numbers) for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and teen suicide in comparison to their peers who have positive role models in their lives.

There has long been some debate about whether celebrities should be deemed role models. Whether they want to be, or not, celebrities must realize that they are placed in the public eye and do have the 'idolization' of most people. Most people - whether straight or gay, young or old - look to them for the latest in fashion trends; character; personality; and acceptable life choices. Therefore, it is the duty of the celebrity to have a certain responsibility to fulfill this role, whether that is their choice or not.

Here is a list of some of the top GLBT role models who are prevalent in today's society:

Lily Tomlin: Lily Tomlin is one of the most respected female comedians in the world. Born in Detroit, Michigan to a working class family, Lily always seemed to have the talent of making people laugh. From her amazing portrayal of such characters as Edith Ann, the Telephone Operator, and other characters on Rowan & Martin's Laugh In to starring in such movies as The Beverly Hillbillies and Big Business, Lily has done just that.

A 'not so stunning' revelation recently, though, has revealed that Lily Tomlin is a lesbian. She has been living with her partner for several years. Though Lily does not bring up her sexuality very often, it is clear she is proud of what she's done in her life, as well as the life she has chosen. Anyone, young or old, can learn from the example Lily Tomlin has set. Just because you are a lesbian doesn't mean you cannot entertain. In fact, Lily has proven the opposite is true.

Wilson Cruz: Born in the 1970's in Brooklyn, New York, Wilson Cruz became one of the most talked about, openly gay actors in Hollywood in the 1990's. It was Wilson's portrayal of openly gay Rickie Vasquez in the hit teen show My So Called Life that opened the door for other projects to Wilson. He's starred in the feature film Nixon, by Oliver Stone, and a teen coming of age in the drama All Over Me, and you can spot Wilson in the upcoming movie Coffee Date which has recently been completed.

Wilson is also a talented singer who enjoys playing the saxophone, as well. He doesn't see himself as a role model, though many gay male teens growing up in the 1990's credit Wilson as their inspiration. Having watched My So Called Life they felt a connection with, not only the character of Rickie Vasquez, but also with Wilson Cruz, himself, who had been through those gay teenage years, as well.

Ellen Degeneres: Everybody's favorite lesbian, Ellen Degeneres, was born and raised in the Metarie, Louisiana area. What isn't there to like about Ellen? She has a hit talk show that everyone is talking about; the credit of Dory in the hit animation movie Finding Nemo (Dory really made the movie as the comic relief!); and a long standing successful career as a female comedienne (she was the first female comedian invited to the couch with Johnny Carson). However, her true claim to fame in the GLBT community was taking the chance to become the first out lesbian main character on a television show airing on one of the top three television networks.

When character Ellen Morgan came out in 1997 - much to the chagrin of Christian conservatives and some of the Ellen show's corporate sponsors - the GLBT world cheered. Despite the fact that the Ellen show did not last long after Ellen's coming out episode she still considers it a victory.

Ellen has had some very public relationships and heartbreak that have shown the world Ellen Degeneres, and homosexuals in general, lead normal lives. They break up with their girlfriend/boyfriend. They feel similar emotions. For, this we can only thank Ellen because all her contributions - good or bad - make us love her even more.

Elton John: Elton John is one of the most talented musicians in the world. The British singer has made no qualms about his sexuality. From his outlandish costumes in the 1970's, to his recent public admission that he will be marrying his long-time partner once it is legal in England, Elton has personified the ultimate gay male lifestyle.

However, we don't just love him for his sexuality we also love him for his sense of style, humor and amazing talent as a singer, songwriter, and piano player. With Elton we've been able to listen to songs like, "Benny and the Jets"; "Daniel"; "Candle in the Wind"; "Don't Let the Sun go Down on Me"; and "Your Song". Ah, where would we be without the Ellens; Eltons; Wilsons; and Lilys of the world!?

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