2016 has been a dark year for celebrity deaths especially gay icons and LGBT allies.

Credit; Anthony-Correia-big stock

This article was written in APRIL 2016

This year there have been a number of celebrity deaths, many of whom have been considered LGBT allies or gay icons.

By this point in 2015, THEGAYUK had reported on five deaths of people who were of special importance to the gay community, including It’s My Party singer Leslie Gore and Simpsons‘ co-creator Sam Simon.

However in 2014, at this point in the year, we had reported on 11 deaths of people, who would be considered notable for the LGBT community.

In 2016 we have reported on 10 deaths, including David Bowie and Prince.


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By MAG (Mines Advisory Group) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mag-photos/4776452299/, CC BY 2.0,

 

There are a number of reasons for which this could be:

NEWS REPORTING

Social media and news tracking has made it easier to report and keep track of the deaths of people who aren’t as famous as say Prince, whose death was tweeted about over 2 million times within an hour, but people who have been important to the development of the LGBT community – such as Prady Balan who co-founded the Balans chain of restaurants in London and Miami and Haydn Pope who owned the AXM brand in Manchester and Glasgow.

 

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BABY BOOMERS

Sadly age is also a factor in the number of deaths we have reported on. David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Prince, Alan Rickman were all between 57 and 69.

These people started to become famous in 1970s and 80s and are now part of a generation of people called the Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers are those people born between 1946 and 1964.

Many of the celebrities who have died in recent years became famous during the 70s and 80s a time where LGBT+ issues became more prominent in society and self expression and sexuality, although still a taboo, became a cause that many celebrities fought for; this was particularly clear during the AIDs crisis during the late 80s and early 90s.

It was also a time where the LGBT+ community itself was looking for visible icons and allies. Artists such as David Bowie and Prince were pioneers of changing or going against societal conventions – a trait that many in the gay community consider vital.

 

ICON BENCHMARK

Of course the last point to consider is what makes a celebrity a gay icon or LGBT ally. For this we take a look a number of factors

a) A person’s actual contribution to the LGBT+ community – were they active in fund raising, political advancement or pushing through non-conforming views on the wider society.

b) Did their lives impact on the cultural enrichment of the gay community. Icons such as Jackie Collins and Joan Rivers, who both died in 2014,  although not gay themselves left an indelible mark on and helped enrich the cultural fabric of the LGBT community.

c) Our readers – we look at our Twitter and Facebook timelines to see what impact a person’s death is having on our readership.