When scrolling through Netflix’s recent catalogue, it’s gratifying to see a lot of content focusing on under-represented minorities, especially in genres that are commonly concentrated on white, straight stories of privilege. While some, such as Pose and Everything Sucks!, manage to establish effective narratives of inclusion, others, such as Insatiable, fail miserably and feed into dangerous prejudice. It’s a relief that Special – the world’s first dramedy series about a young gay man with cerebral palsy – is not only respectful towards its subject, but also conscious of other struggles surrounding him.
The adoption of female stars as icons by gay men isn’t a new phenomenon. Many examples spring to mind, such as Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. But what’s the reason for their gay icon status? And why is this only bestowed on a select few? Why is Joan Crawford, like so many others, deemed a gay icon and why, in the AlterHéros “100 Best Things about Being Gay?” list, does she sit at No. 46 because gay men “viscerally understand” her?