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The Big One: Top Ten Gay Pop Icons

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Duh...duh...Duuuuh! Gay Spy is proud to reveal the identity of history's greatest gay pop icon. But before you find out which preening diva you voted the most captivating of all time, here's a scary thought for you: if this lot ever end up in the same room together, the sheer force of the collective egomania will probably throw the Earth out of orbit. Just pray it never happens.


10. Barbra Streisand
"What does it mean when people applaud? Should I give 'em money? Say thank you? Lift my dress? The lack of applause - that I can respond to.”

Is Babs the most self-assured woman on Earth? Not only did she direct and produce her 1996 movie The Mirror Has Two Faces, but she wrote and sang the theme tune too. What's more, this week she's been charging fans up to £500 to watch the London leg of her farewell tour. Not bad for a woman who began her career singing in a low-key Greenwich Village gay bar in the sixties. Her fanbase has grown exponentially ever since, but its key demographic has never altered.


9. Christina Aguilera
"I never get people who think being gay is some kind of choice. It really saddens me."

Say what you want about 'Xtina', the girl's comfortable with her own sexuality: once she let the genie out of the bottle, no amount of rubbing was ever going to put it back. She's blessed with a voice that could raise the dead, and she's released some cracking singles over the years, but it's the 'Dirrty' video that really earns her a place in your top ten. Her crotch-thrusting, arse-bearing pricktease of a performance makes the Pussycat Dolls look as though they're auditioning for Sister Act.


8. Kate Bush
“School was a very cruel environment and I was a loner. But I learned to get hurt and I learned to cope with it.”

The less visible Kate Bush becomes, the more we're fascinated by her. Who else could hold our attention while crooning pi to 116 decimal places (on 2005’s p). She only hit the road once, for 1979's financially disastrous Tour of Life, but her ventures into the recording studio have kept us enthralled: 'This Woman's Work', her touching ode to her dying mother, is one of the best tearjerkers of all time. Full marks for her white witch on heat performance in the 'Wuthering Heights' video, too.


7. Cher
“My gay fans have been so loyal and so great at times when other fans weren't there. Gay fans usually love you when you're in the dumps, in the toilet. They're still there for you.”

Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre is the ultimate survivor. Her voice is as limited as Posh Spice’s appetite – let’s face it, every song becomes an anthem once it comes out of Cher's increasingly plump lips – but she’s managed to score hits in each of the last five decades. Nobody ever rated her as an actress, but she nabbed an Oscar for her turn in 1987’s Moonstruck. She even managed to stretch out her farewell jaunt around the world's enormodromes for three whole years, eventually dubbing it ‘The Never Can Say Goodbye’ tour. US comedian Jimmy James was spot-on when he quipped: "After a nuclear holocaust, all that will be left are cockroaches and Cher".


6. Britney Spears
"I want to be an artist that everyone can relate to - that's young, happy and fun."

These days Britney's best known for being bald, barftastic and bonkers. But once upon a time – 1999, to be precise – she was the defining popstar of her generation. Whatever she does next, we’ll never forget the time she kissed Madonna, ‘…Baby One More Time’, that snake-assisted MTV performance, the ‘Toxic’ video or her ‘Slave 4 U’ body. Get well soon, Britney.


5. Shirley Bassey
“My gay fans have always liked the rollercoaster of my life. You know: she’s gone through all this and she’s still up there.”

Although she’s been a musical anachronism for most of her five-decade career, the Dame's star refuses to burn out. Well, how could it? Whenever anyone needs of a flamboyant, preposterously ostentatious diva who isn’t afraid to flash a bit of thigh, there’s nobody else to call. Shirl's recently proved she’s as game as ever by covering Pink’s ecstasy anthem ‘Get The Party Started’, although we're guessing the only thing she's popped recently is her hip bone.


4. Dusty Springfield
"I have an enormously strong gay following and I'm grateful for it. I love gay people. I'm comfortable with them. I respect gay people. That doesn't make me one and that doesn't not make me one. I'm me. I have a gay following. I'm grateful for it. I want to keep it."

She battled drink, drugs and suicidal tendencies, but it was breast cancer that finally robbed Britain of its greatest female vocalist in 1997. The one-time Mary O’Brien married her achingly evocative voice to an image – hyper-femininity topped with that blonde beehive – that refuses to fade. Her 1969 opus Dusty In Memphis, a work filled with longing, sexuality and desperation, might just be the best gay album of all time.


3. Sir Elton John
"I have to speak my mind because as a gay man now I have a responsibility to.”

Elton's survived countless battles – with drink, his sexuality and his hairline – but he’s still going strong. As the most famous gay man on the planet, he helped to bring civil partnerships into the public consciousness by wedding his long-term partner David Furnish in December 2005. Impressively, his shameless extravagance only seems to add to his appeal. When asked to explain a £293,000 flower bill during a 2001 court battle against his former accountant, he replied coolly: “Yes, I like flowers.”


2. Madonna
"I like to think we've been mutually inspired by one another. Maybe it's because the first person that ever believed in me was gay. My ballet teacher. He was the first person that made me feel like I was special and, I dunno, I think that was the beginning of some kind of unconscious connection."

The rampaging sexuality, the narcissistic obsession with her own body, the insatiable need to be outrageous: Madonna isn't so much a gay icon as a gay man. She’s also the most provocative pop star of all time. Nobody else used the music video as a vehicle to wind up the Catholic church ('Like A Prayer'), explore the S&M underworld ('Justify My Love') or show off her 47-year-old crotch (‘Hung Up’). If Madonna ever gives up – heaven forbid - a part of gay culture will give up too.


1. Kylie
“The gay fans are pop connoisseurs – I’ve always said that much. You’ve just always been there and hopefully always will be.”

Was there ever any contest? In the end, Kylie’s tiny little legs ran away with it. Although her critics maintain that she’s merely a blank canvas onto which her more musically talented mentors - Nick Cave, the Scissor Sisters, Stock Aitken Waterman - can project their idea of pop perfection, Kylie’s savvier than her kitsch image suggests. Her visual flair, ear for a cracking pop tune and peerless sense of showgirlship have kept her at pop's precarious apex for two decades and made her your ultimate gay icon. Her arse isn't bad, either.

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