100 LGBTs to look out for in 2017

100 Intriguing LGBTs to Look Out for in 2017

BUSINESS

51. Kenta Seki

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Photo by Sarah Orbanic

Seki started off 2017 as the cover boy for a calendar titled Haikus on Hotties, showcasing sexy Asian male celebs and influencers, all in an effort to break stereotypes about Asian men. (Proceeds even benefitted organizations promoting Asian-American equality.) But those in the mood for something more lively can pick up one of Seki’s workout videos, part of his friend Jillian Michaels’ FitFusion streaming fitness company. Keep your eyes peeled (and your core prepped) for new videos coming out soon! —S.H.

52. Andy Sabola

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Photo by Kate LeSueur

Austin, Texas, is a tiny blue bubble in a huge red state, which means there’s a lot of work to do for the queer community on a local level. You can bet that Sabola’s Gelateria Gemelli, a gelato shop and espresso bar on the city’s east side, is doing its part. Last year the shop worked with AIDS Services of Austin, OutYouth and Casa Marianella, which provides safe housing for immigrant women and children who are escaping violence. Sabola even offers up the shop to grassroots organizations outside of business hours. “I don’t believe in a separation between business and politics,” Sabola tells us. “The store is my life, and Gemelli reflects my values. It is so important, now more than ever, to be a safe haven for marginalized folks, and that’s what we hope to be.” What an amazing example for small businesses nationwide. —S.H.

53. Viktor Pelayo

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Illustraton by Alfredo Roagui

You know Pelayo’s company Huntees as the web’s top store for purchasing the merch of your favorite drag queens and queer artists (including Alfredo Roagui, who comes in at number 7 on our list), but 2017 will see Huntees go brick-and-mortar with a West Hollywood storefront. It’ll be a place for his artists to stage meet-and-greets, as well as a spot for customers to place custom orders. In the near future, you’ll even be able to upload your own art and have it printed onto T-shirts and other items. Here’s to a gay entrepreneur who knows his queer customer base and serves them right. —S.H.

54. Johnny Shih

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Shih is seated at center

While Maybelline and Covergirl have both hired young gay men to market their female cosmetics to younger guys, Shih has skipped the female market altogether by creating Unicorn, a cosmetics line specifically targeted at gay men, including products like a “Buttocks Lift Mask” and “Sculpting Abdomen Gel.” While you may feel conflicted about products that could make gay men feel even more body-conscious than they already do, Shih has also used his company to advocate for LGBTQ rights in Taiwan. Unicorn participated in Taiwan Pride, worked with the Taiwan AIDS Foundation and sponsored Sodom’s Cat, a gay Taiwanese film. The company hopes to eventually expand into the U.S. market. D.V.

55. Chris Puckett

“2017 is going to be our best year yet,” says Puckett, a guy who truly turned his passion into his occupation. As the founder/owner of Puckett Excursions, he leads all-inclusive group trips to some of the world’s most gorgeous sites, mixing high-adventure and luxe accommodations. (We’re talking everything from five-star resorts to exclusive jungle tree houses.) In 2017 alone—his third year—Puckett is leading excursions to Thailand, Yosemite, Redwood National Park, Yellowstone, Chile and more. Let this handsome fella show you how to really travel the world. —S.H.

56. Duane Wells

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Photo by Ryan Forbes

There are few luxurious spots on the globe this luxury lifestyle curator hasn’t uncovered, explored and written home about, but 2017 will see Wells take his expertise a step further still. On tap for the new year is a LivingWells travel concierge service that aims to create curated travel itineraries for the most discerning travelers, as well as a menswear blog and the debut of a brand-new series of travel guides. Can’t decide where to vacation next? Let Duane Wells offer some advice. —S.H.

57.-58. Christof Wittig and Sean Howell

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Wittig and Howell created the gay social network Hornet because they were dissatisfied with other apps on the market, and today it has grown to over 15 million users worldwide. Just last year, Hornet acquired $8 million in funding and integrated city guides to expand its worldwide use. Fostering an online community is extremely important to Wittig (Hornet’s CEO) and Howell (its President), and they have used the app for good since its inception, promoting HIV testing internationally with Hornet’s “Know Your Status (KYS)” initiative, by supporting the LGBTQ gaming convention GX and by advocating for same-sex marriage in Taiwan. 2017 will be a landmark year for the app as it continues its ascendance to become the world’s number one gay app. —M.B./D.V.

59. Matthieu Jost

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The idea is shockingly simple: an AirBnB for gays. That became Jost’s mission after an unpleasant vacation experience four years ago, when a rental host was hostile to him and his partner, and thereafter Jost founded MisterBnB, which also hosts meet-ups in cities around the globe. It’s important that gays the world over feel like they can safely traverse a map, and that they will be welcomed wherever their passports may take them, and MisterBnB is helping to make that a reality. —M.B.

60. Beth Bishop

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As owner of The Phoenix Effect—a community-driven group fitness studio in Los Angeles that has been hailed nationwide for its programming—Bishop wants to make you stronger, faster and healthier, but she also wants to support our larger community. Last year the studio raised $150K for charities like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Camp Brave Trails, and she’s aiming for $250K this year. Also potentially in the cards for 2017: a second Phoenix Effect location. “We are really focusing on always making the studio the best it can be and empowering as many people as we can through fitness and community,” Bishop tells us. “Now more than ever, with this evil president coming in, I think it’s important for like-minded people to band together and support each other. Strong people are harder to kill after all.” Here’s to a more powerful community. —S.H.

61. Geng Le

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It couldn’t have been easy to found China’s first gay social network, but then again, Geng Le never shied away from a challenge. A former cop, he founded Blued to connect queer guys to each other and show the world that Chinese gays are happy, healthy and supportive. Contrary to the anti-gay crackdown coming from the country’s government, Le uses his social network to promote queer health, both mental and physical. —M.B.

62. Arnold Myint

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It’s one thing to be an accomplished chef, and it’s one thing to be a talented drag queen, but it’s another thing altogether to be called both. There’s clearly not much that Myint—a chef, restaurateur, entertainer and party guru from Nashville, Tennessee—can’t do. A contestant on Top Chef’s seventh season, a favorite on Food Network Star Season 11 and a judge on Food Network’s Chopped Junior (with a YouTube series of his own called Hint of Myint), he’s also known as Suzy Wong, currently the 46th Miss Gay America. Look for Arnold (and Suzy) at this year’s pageant (held Oct. 4-7 in New Orleans) and keep an eye out as she travels the country, making appearances celebrating her reign. —S.H.

63. Andre Fischer

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Before Fischer began Mix Brasil, a major pop culture and political portal for the the Brazilian LGBTQ community, there wasn’t much good info about LGBTQ people in Portuguese. Since then, Mix has become a major hub for LGBTQ news, lifestyle and politics. Fischer is also the founder of the MiX Festival, an alternative film festival highlighting work that promotes new outlooks on sexual desire and expression, and he has helped the festival’s films get broadcast on Brazilian TV. Having also worked as a DJ on nationally broadcast radio programs, Fischer remains hyperconnected to Brazil’s creative and activist community, and he continues to push for greater LGBTQ rights nationwide through his multiple media platforms. D.V.

64. Suki Sandhu

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Three years ago, Sandhu founded OUTstanding, an executive level network for LGBT businesspeople and allies that seeks to create welcoming work environments where LGBT executives can succeed. Since then, his organization has helped connect international companies with qualified, openly LGBTQ candidates and has released annual lists of the top leading LGBTQ executives, allies and future leaders. “I’m hugely proud that all of our featured role models continue to challenge the assumption that you can’t be openly LGBT in business and be a success,” Sandhu says. In addition to his work at OUTstanding, Sandhu is also a Stonewall Ambassador and a donor who has given to organizations such as Diversity Role Models and the StandUp Foundation, two groups that oppose homophobic school bullying; the Albert Kennedy Trust; a group for LGBTQ homeless youth; and the Terence Higgins Trust. D.V.

65. Jon Miller

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Not only was Miller named one of Financial Times’ “Top 100 LGBT Executives” in 2015, he also leads a group called Open for Business, a coalition of 20 global companies (including AT&T, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Virgin) that push for LGBTQ rights around the world. Miller’s take is that “inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth”; there’s evidence that he’s right, promising a brighter future ahead as these companies extend into the roughly 80 countries where LGBTQ identity remains a crime. D.V.

 

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