From observer.com

The New Power Gays: NYC's Top 50

By Daniel D'Addario - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Fire Island outpost of Oak, the New York boutique frequented by stylish gay men, sells a T-shirt bearing the words “New York 1987.” Seth Weissman, the young co-owner of the Fire Island Pines, wore the shirt on a recent Saturday night and was bombarded with one repeated question: What did “New York 1987” mean? “It’s the year I was born!” he told one friend. (Not quite—the boyish Mr. Weissman graduated Wharton in 2005.)

Turns out the phrase is a reference to the title card of Jennie Livingston’s legendary 1991 documentary, Paris Is Burning. The film, for those—like Mr. Weissman—who need a refresher, is a seminal tract on a very specific sort of gay power. It follows a number of competitors through a series of underground drag balls in Harlem—battles for supremacy in which one-upsmanship is achieved through a gaze, a flawlessly executed pose and the ability to, as they put it, “throw shade.”

One competitive event shown in the film, known as “Executive Realness,” involves an elaborate pantomime of corporate life with contestants outfitted in business suits and swinging briefcases. “The fact that you are not an executive is merely because of the social standing of life,” one aspirant explains. This is, emphatically, gay power of an older vintage, power conjured through artifice and self-invention, by men defining themselves at an oblique angle to the society at large.

In those days, gay power was also maintained through other forms of performance. Andrew Kirtzman—the co-owner, with Mr. Weissman, of the Pines—began his career as a journalist on the island and once almost had his camera shattered by a closeted clubgoer. “That man’s concern was that [a photo] would be a career killer,” he said. “This man was probably not out to his family or in his workplace. And now, 30 years later, every other person you see is shooting pics with his cellphone.” (Indeed, we can’t wait for the cell-phone snaps from President Obama’s “Gala With the Gay Community” to get tweeted out.)

Let’s not forget Larry Kramer’s novel Faggots, set on Fire Island and published more than a decade before Paris Is Burning, which features a self-loathing, gay would-be titan of industry, the waggishly named Randy Dildough, who must conceal his sexuality everywhere else on earth to make it in business. (Mr. Kramer has said that Randy Dildough is based on Barry Diller.)

It really does get better! These days, gay power seems more or less the same as any other sort of power in society. “What happens with gay people as they become successful is that what they do eclipses their gayness,” said Simon Doonan, creative ambassador-at-large for Barneys.

Indeed, as we reported this list, a variety of career-conscious types asked us if they’d made the cut—not because they wanted to hide their sexuality but because they wanted in. (It was the “power,” more than the “gay,” that attracted them, we think.)

Which raised a question: Why bother with a gay power list at all, given how passé the whole idea has become? The answer: Don’t worry, we’re working on next year’s straight white male power list.

On the eve of what may be an historic vote finally establishing gay marriage in New York, it seems clear that homosexuality has gone mainstream. (Even straight men want to be lesbian bloggers, it seems!) As a result, narrowing a list of powerful gay figures down to 50 was something of a challenge. And, as ever, whom you leave off is all the fun!

About that: we’ve excluded anyone still clinging to the closet as we speak—be they national news anchors, media moguls, or prominent architects—not out of respect for their personal choices (far from it, fellas), but because the power to be oneself is the most essential power there is, and an unwillingness to seize that power—hell, flaunt it—seems like a reasonable disqualifying factor.

Twenty years after Paris Is Burning, the rules of gay power have changed, but the need for it is just as profound.

Welcome to “New York 2011.”

Officers

BOARD OF GOVERNORS

  1. Hon. Eric Adams
  2. George Arzt
  3. Lance Bass
  4. John Blair
  5. Mark Benoit
  6. Hon. Rodneyse Bichotte
  7. Hon. Jonathan Bing
  8. Robin Byrd
  9. Hon. Gale Brewer
  10. Christian Campbell
  11. Gus Christensen
  12. Hon. Martin Connor
  13. Hon. Jon Cooper
  14. Wilson Cruz
  15. Hon. Laurie Cumbo
  16. Alan Cumming
  17. Valorie Curry
  18. Michael Czaczkes
  19. Hon. Bill de Blasio
  20. Jon Del Giorno
  21. Aries Dela Cruz
  22. Kyan Douglas
  23. Hon. Daniel Dromm
  24. James Duff
  25. Hon. Ronnie Eldridge
  26. Hon. Herman Farrell
  27. Hon. Alan Fleishman
  28. Hon. Dan Garodnick
  29. Dan Gettleman
  30. Emily Jane Goodman
  31. Hon. Mark Green
  32. Robert Grunnah
  33. Tony Hoffmann
  34. Hon. Brad Hoylman
  35. Binn Jakupi
  36. Hon. Letitia James
  37. Hon. Corey Johnson
  38. Camille Joseph
  39. Phillip Keane
  40. Greg Lambert
  41. Dodge Landesman
  42. Marc Landis
  43. Phillip McCarthy
  44. Cameron McFadden
  45. Matt McMorrow
  46. Michael Mallon
  47. Mike C. Manning
  48. Cathy Marino-Thomas
  49. Hon. Carlos Menchaca
  50. Hon. Rosie Mendez
  51. John Cameron Mitchell
  52. Donny Moss
  53. Barry Mullineaux
  54. Hon. Paul Newell
  55. Denis O'Hare
  56. Noah Pfefferbilt
  57. Josue Pierre
  58. Bob Pontarelli
  59. Billy Porter
  60. Joe Pressley
  61. Randy Rainbow
  62. Hon. Jenifer Rajkumar
  63. Hon. Gustavo Rivera
  64. Barbara Rosen
  65. Hon. Helen Rosenthal
  66. Maer Roshan
  67. Toby Russo
  68. Bill Samuels
  69. James Sansum
  70. Scott Sartiano
  71. Hon. Arthur Schwartz
  72. Lynn Schulman
  73. Frank Selvaggi
  74. Rev. Al Sharpton
  75. Hon. Jo Anne Simon
  76. Tom Smith
  77. Marti Speranza
  78. Anne Strahle
  79. Hon. Scott Stringer
  80. Wayne Sunday
  81. Hon. Bill Thompson
  82. Hon. Matt Titone
  83. Hon. Ritchie Torres
  84. Sam Underwood
  85. Derek Walker
  86. Jessica Walter
  87. Patricia Nell Warren
  88. Wil Weder
  89. Seth Weissman
  90. Mel Wymore
  91. Emma Wolfe
  92. Hon. Keith Wright
  93. Zephyr Teachout