Klaus Nomi (1944-1983) The German performer remains adored thanks to his highly original performances, beautiful singing voice, and trendsetting costumes. After becoming a sensation in his native country, Nomi won over the crowds at various New York City nightclubs during the end of the disco era. He sang backup for David Bowie on Saturday Night Live, influenced drag legend Joey Arias, and even appeared in films. In 1983, Nomi became one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS complications.

Derek Jarman (1943-1994) This forward-thinking British director shook up cinema in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Jarman's gay-themed, politically driven work took on everything from the monarchy to Shakespeare classics to the scourge of AIDS. His cinematic style could be described as experimental, but it always came with a strong opinion and a definitive point. Jarman's Edward II is seen by many scholars as a modern classic, and it helped propel actress Tilda Swinton to stardom. Jarman never hid his sexuality or his HIV diagnosis, which would fell him in 1994.

Peter Allen (1944-1992) This Australian import was best known for his Oscar-winning song, “Arthur’s Theme” and for serving as songwriter for Olivia Newton-John, Carly Simon, and Frank Sinatra, to name only a few. Allen, discovered by Judy Garland, later married her daughter, Liza Minnelli, but the couple parted ways after seven years. After their divorce, Allen came out and lived with his long-term partner, model Gregory Connell, until Connell’s death from an AIDS-related illness in 1984. Allen died in 1992 from an AIDS-related throat cancer. Hugh Jackman would later star in a musical about Allen's life, The Boy From Oz.

Lance Loud (1951-2001) Loud became part of one of the world's first reality shows when PBS aired An American Family in 1973. Lance, the eldest son of the Loud family, came out to an estimated 10 million viewers during the second episode and changed the television landscape forever. Later, Loud moved from California to New York, formed a band called the Mumps, and eventually settled into his status as a gay icon. Loud died in 2001 of liver failure caused by hepatitis C and HIV. In 2011, HBO films made Cinema Verite, a film about the making of the original PBS documentary series, starring Diane Lane, Tim Robbins, James Gandolfini, and Thomas Dekker as Lance.

Steve Rubell (1943-1989) Brooklyn-born Rubell, along with business partner Ian Schrager, opened famed disco Studio 54 in 1977. The club was known for excess and as a place where everyday people could party with the beautiful ones. Some of the regulars were Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Halston, Calvin Klein, Truman Capote, Diana Ross, Madonna, and Cher. Top music stars of the '70s were also known to take the stage; the Village People, Donna Summer, and Gloria Gaynor all entertained there. Even though he was taking AZT, Rubell died in 1989 of AIDS complications.

Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) Mercury, the front man for the widely successful British rock band Queen, was known as bisexual to many in the music industry. Shortly before his death, a very gaunt Mercury joined his band mates for one final video, “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” a song in which the singer reminiscences about his younger days. Mercury died of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS in 1991, only one day after he publicly acknowledged he had the disease. In 2010, Rolling Stone named him number 18 on its list of the 100 greatest singers ever.


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