Some of the greatest minds and talents of all time are, were, or could have been considered a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Our contributions to the arts, sciences, and world politics are impossible to calculate. This is a credit to the people that make up our beautiful community. Like everyone, we lose many great people every year to time and tragedy. Let’s take a moment to mark the LGBTQ+ celebrities and icons who died this year. People who made important contributions in their field or were pillars in their community. Let’s celebrate the departed greats of 2022.
A Note From The Writer
The people we mention here have all achieved some level of notoriety in the media or their local communities. This is not the only mark of greatness queer people should be expected to achieve to be worthy of celebration. Every year we lose important members of local communities and dear loved ones. This is often a result of anti-LGBTQ+ violence or extenuating factors that disproportionately affect queer folks. Particularly trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Before we go any further we’d like to honor their memory. This year, we have lost at least 32 transgender people by violent means. This does not include the deaths that go unreported as many often do.
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What LGBTQ+ Celebrities Died This Year?
The celebrities and noteworthy people on this list have had an impact on our lives in various ways. Some were musicians, such as Aaron Carter or Patrick Haggerty. Others were activists like Urvashi Vaid or Drag Queens like Cherry Valentine. We also lost actors like Leslie Jordan, Anne Heche, and Kevin Conroy and fashion icons like Thierry Mugler and André Leon Talley. Most were some combination of all of the above. Keep reading for a list of these incredible people and their accomplishments.
1. Kevin Conroy
Conroy was an actor that got his start in theatre but eventually moved to film and television. He was best known for his work voicing Batman. He worked on Batman: The Animated Series, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Beyond between 1992 to 2001. Because of his work we can, in a sense, say that Batman was part of the LGBTQ+ community.
How Did Kevin Conroy Die?
Conroy died after a battle with intestinal cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Greats such as Mark Hamill, Lynda Carter, and George Takei all paid tribute to him upon his death.
When Did Kevin Conroy Die?
Conroy died on Nov. 10 at the age of 66. He is survived by his husband Vaughn C. Williams, sister Trisha Conroy, and brother Tom Conroy.
Was Kevin Conroy Gay?
Conroy was gay but did not publicly speak about his sexuality until 2016. In 2022 he wrote Finding Batman, as part of DC Comics’ 2022 Pride anthology. The story described his experiences as a gay man, including the discrimination he faced in the industry, to critical acclaim.
2. Aaron Carter
Carter first rose to fame in the late 90s as a pop and hip-hop artist. Carter, a brother to Backstreet Boys member Nick, released his first studio album in 1997. His second album, Aaron’s Party (Come Get It), sold three million copies in the United States. From there Carter began making appearances on Nickelodeon and toured with the Backstreet Boys.
How Did Aaron Carter Die?
Carter was found in his bathtub, where law enforcement revealed that he drowned. There is currently no evidence of homicide, although homicide detectives will investigate per standard operating procedure.
When Did Aaron Carter Die?
Carter died at home on Nov. 5 at the age of 34. He is survived by his son Prince.
Was Aaron Carter Bisexual?
Carter’s sexuality made headlines several times after it appeared that he came out as bisexual on Twitter in 2017. “I grew up in this entertainment industry at a very young age,” said Carter. Carter said that he started to be attracted to boys at around 13 years old, at the same time he was attracted to girls. Almost a year later, Carter walked back his comments slightly, calling them “misconstrued.” Although he reaffirmed his attraction to men, he said that he ultimately sees himself “being with a woman and having kids.”
3. Patrick Haggerty
Known as the first out country music artist, Patrick Haggerty was a trailblazer. Together with keyboardist Michael Carr, singer and fiddler Eve Morris, and guitarist Robert Hammerstrom, Haggerty formed the group Lavender Country in 1972. Their first album, called Lavender Country is widely considered the first country album by an out musician. Given his fearlessness is hardly a surprise that Haggerty was also a dedicated LGBTQ+ activist. His parting leaves a giant hole in our community.
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How Did Patrick Haggerty Die?
Haggerty suffered a stroke and died from complications a few weeks later.
When Did Patrick Haggerty Die?
Haggerty died on Oct. 31 at the age of 78.
Was Patrick Haggerty Gay?
Not only was Haggerty gay, but he was also a pioneering gay country musician and committed LGBTQ+ activist and anti-fascist.
4. Leslie Jordan
Leslie Jordan captured our hearts with his roles on Will & Grace, The Help, Call me Kat, and American Horror Story. Though he has been known to steal the scene in all of his projects, Jordan finally rose to the acclaim he deserved at the beginning of the pandemic. Jordan became famous for his daily uploads on Instagram, where his following skyrocketed from 180,000 to now almost 6 million.
How Did Leslie Jordan Die?
It was reported that Leslie Jordan experienced a medical emergency while driving en route to film scenes for Call me Kat. Leslie then crashed into a building and was pronounced dead at the scene.
When Did Leslie Jordan Die?
Leslie Jordan died on Oct. 24, at the age of 76.
Was Leslie Jordan Gay?
Leslie spoke openly about life as a gay person in the south where he grew up. According to Leslie, he was never very good at being in the closet, although that was not without trying.
5. Deb Auchery
Hailing from Bend, Oregon, Alex Simpson made a name for herself under the stage name “Deb Auchery.” She was also a founder of The Cult of Tuck, a drag troupe dedicated to sharing queer performance artistry throughout central Oregon. Her sudden death is a giant blow to not only her community but all of central Oregon.
How Did Deborah Auchery Die?
Tragically, Simpson was taken too soon due to complications surrounding Type 1 diabetes.
When Did Deb Auchery Die?
Simpson died on Sept. 22 at the age of 30. She is survived by her mother, Markaye Simpson, father, Garrett Simpson, and older brother, Damon Simpson.
Was Deborah Auchery Queer?
Alex was a fierce trans drag queen and a dedicated advocate for trans rights.
6. Cherry Valentine
George Ward, best known by the stage name Cherry Valentine, was a U.K. drag queen and contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. Ward also worked as a mental health nurse, focusing on children’s psychiatric intensive care and adults with Huntington’s disease. Ward also spoke about his experiences growing up in the British Traveller community and is the only drag queen of Romani heritage to appear in the Drag Race franchise.
How Did Cherry Valentine Die?
The cause of Ward’s death is still unknown to the public.
When Did Cherry Valentine Die?
Ward died on Sept. 18 at the age of 28.
Was Cherry Valentine Queer?
Ward told the story about their experience growing up gay in the Traveler community in a 2022 documentary, Cherry Valentine: G*psy Queen and Proud. He was also openly genderfluid.
7. Valencia Prime
Dubbed “Philadelphia’s plus-size dancing diva,” Valencia was a force to reckon with in the Philly drag scene. She was a rising star and a talented performer that brought joy to so many in the community. “Her loss is devastating to a whole scene of people she influenced and inspired,” said sexuality educator and burlesque performer Timaree Leigh. “The Philadelphia scene will never be the same,” said drag performer Asia Monroe. “She was really a wonderful, loving, and caring person.” A GoFundMe was set up to help her family cover funeral expenses.
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How Did Valencia Prime Die?
Prime was performing at Tabu Lounge and Sports bar in Philadelphia when she collapsed suddenly on stage. It was revealed that this was due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. According to a fellow performer, Asia Monroe, Prime was unresponsive when the paramedics arrived.
When Did Valencia Prime Die?
Prime died on Sept. 12 at the age of 25.
Was Valencia Prime Queer?
Prime was a proud trans woman and drag queen.
8. Anne Heche
Anne Heche began her career in daytime television on the NBC soap opera, Another World, and her portrayal of twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love won her a Daytime Emmy in 1991. In the ’90s, she starred alongside Johnny Depp in Donnie Brasco, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog, and Harrison Ford in the action comedy Six Days Seven Nights. She also made waves with her portrayal of Melissa Egan in the slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer.
How Did Anne Heche Die?
Anne Heche died from her injuries after her car collided with a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood, causing a fire. Early reports indicated that the accident was severe and took nearly 60 firefighters more than an hour to extinguish the fire. First responders found Heche gravely injured and she was rushed to the hospital. Her family later confirmed that she was taken off life support.
When Did Anne Heche Die?
Heche died on Aug. 11 at the age of 53.
Was Anne Heche Queer?
Heche’s romantic relationship with TV host Ellen DeGeneres caused an uproar in Hollywood and paved the way for future LGBTQ+ couples. The two met at a Vanity Fair party in 1997 and went public with their relationship at a red carpet event for Heche’s movie, Volcano. Despite Hollywood essentially blacklisting them, Heche and DeGeneres went on to date for more than three years.
9. Urvashi Vaid
It’s hard to summarize Urvashi Vaid’s dedication to and impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Vaid was an LGBTQ+ rights activist, lawyer, and author. Born in India, Vaid was an expert in gender and sexuality law and a consultant in attaining specific goals of social justice. She held a series of roles at the National LGBTQ Task Force. She is the author of Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation and Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics. Vaid was named one of the 50 most influential LGBT people in the United States by Out Magazine in 2009. She was also an aunt to gender non-conforming writer, poet, performance artist, and media personality Alok Vaid-Menon.
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How Did Urvashi Vaid Die?
Vaid died at home after a battle with cancer.
When Did Urvashi Vaid Die?
Vaid died on May 14 and is survived by her partner, comedian Kate Clinton.
Was Urvashi Vaid Queer?
Vaid was a gender non-conforming lesbian and unflinching in her fight for LGBTQ+ liberation.
10. Thierry Mugler
Manfred Thierry Mugler is a French fashion designer who needs no introduction. Known for his theatrical and avant-garde approach, Mugler rose to fashion royalty with his iconic designs. He famously designed looks for the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Demi Moore. He even came out of retirement to design the famous “wet look” dress for Kim Kardashian in 2019, as well as Cardi B’s pink and black “stormy Venus” dress for the Grammys.
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How Did Thierry Mugler Die?
Mugler died of natural causes at home in Vincennes, Paris.
When Did Thierry Mugler Die?
Mugler died on Jan. 23 at the age of 73.
Was Thierry Mugler Gay?
Mugler was openly gay and often used his fashion shows to showcase queer diversity, making a point to include drag queens and trans women.
11. André Leon Talley
Larger than life, André Leon Talley made a name for himself in the fashion industry when he rose through the ranks at Vogue Magazine starting in 1983. He began his journey as Vogue’s fashion news director before graduating to creative director, and finally editor-at-large. Talley was very highly respected in the fashion industry and his passing leaves a deep scar in the hearts of many. “André Leon Talley was a one-of-a-kind presence who changed the face of fashion,” wrote first lady Michelle Obama. “He will be missed, but I know his legacy will continue inspiring people for years to come.”
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How Did André Leon Talley Die?
Talley died after suffering from a heart attack as a result of complications from COVID-19.
When Did André Leon Talley Die?
Talley died on Jan. 18 at the age of 73.
Was André Leon Talley Gay?
Talley was included in the 50 Most Powerful Gay People in America list by Out Magazine in 2007. Talley told Wendy Williams that he is not heterosexual, saying “I’m fluid in my sexuality, darling.”