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