2019 Icons

  1. Ethel Allen
  2. Kwame Anthony Appiah
  3. Gladys Bentley
  4. Jackie Biskupski
  5. Kate Bornstein
  6. Ana Brnabic
  7. Pete Buttigieg
  8. Eliza Byard
  9. Brandi Carlile
  10. George Chauncey
  11. Lou Chibbaro Jr.
  12. Sharice Davids
  13. Babe Didrickson
  14. Cheryl Dunye
  15. Lillian Faderman
  16. Ronan Farrow
  17. Jewelle Gomez
  18. Emma González
  19. Sherenté Harris
  20. Rock Hudson
  21. Robert Indiana
  22. James Ivory
  23. Anne Lister
  24. Arthur Mitchell
  25. Julia Morgan
  26. Anaraa Nyamdorj
  27. Jared Polis
  28. Angela Ponce
  29. Keshav Suri
  30. Lillian Wald
  31. Edith Wharton

John Cameron Mitchell



Actor and Director

b. April 21, 1963, El Paso, Texas

“Rock and roll and theatre and drag are all the same thing. They’re ways to remind yourself that you’re not alone.”

John Cameron Mitchell is best known for writing, directing and starring in the cult classic film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

While the story of Hedwig is not autobiographical, the sexually ambiguous character—the lead singer in a fictional rock band—does share some traits with her creator. Like Hedwig, who is from East Germany and spent her youth craving the freedom of the West, Mitchell used to visit his military father in Berlin and became haunted by the Berlin wall. Hedwig, like Mitchell, is a performer with an insatiable passion for the stage. Both are perennial outsiders making their own way—idealists who transcend labels. Hedwig confounds male and female identities and Mitchell is an out gay man who believes gays are on the verge of selling out as they assimilate into society. Hedwig and Mitchell teach us to distrust appearances because true character comes from the inside out.

In 2008 Mitchell established a New York nightclub called Mattachine. It was located at Julius, the nation’s oldest known gay bar. Mattachine was an homage to activists who convened at Julius in 1966 to hold a “sip-in” protest of the State Liquor Authority’s regulation prohibiting bartenders from serving homosexuals.

In 1998 Mitchell’s rock musical, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” debuted Off-Broadway and won an Obie Award. Mitchell played the lead role for seven shows a week. In 2001 he directed and starred in the film version, for which he earned the Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor. The film garnered a cult following. In 2014 a revival of “Hedwig” opened on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris cast in the leading role. Mitchell also wrote, directed and produced the film “Shortbus” and directed “Rabbit Hole,” starring Nicole Kidman.