The National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting a Gay Icons series - ten prominent gay "selectors" are asked to each name six individuals whom they regard as inspirational. The icons are not required to be gay, but rather the show provides insight into who - and what characteristics of an icon - influence the lives of todays prominent gay figures. The portraits themselves are secondary to the stories behind the inspiration.
You couldn't see the exhibition without questioning who has been instrumental in your own life. Here are a few of my own ...
Stylish, ground breaking, and with seemingly endless stamina. Neil Tennant has always provided musical inspiration via the Pet Shop Boys - but beyond that obvious link he has been a pop culture icon on every front. Where he stands above so many of his contemporaries is through his inimitable dignity. He is a trusted and respected voice of British culture and the world is a better place because of the joy he has brought through his career.
Those who leave the world prematurely often have iconic status thrust upon them. James Dean was a pop star in his own right. His skill as an actor was evident despite appearing in only three films. What would he achieved if his time had not been cut so short? Though we must decipher his true life story from the legend it appears he was an outlier in every aspect - it is no surprise that he continues to inspire new generations.
Bowie is a true genius. His songwriting skill is unparalleled, as is his talent for invention of all aspects of his world. He takes risks and in doing so has been an influence on probably anyone making music today.
For some reason I have been fascinated by Cage from the moment I became aware of him. Odd considering my love for pop music and melody! He was a many of layers of complexity - philosopher, composer, artist, activist, Buddhist. Yet everything he did was with consistency and conviction. He gave me silence and for that I will be forever grateful.
Because very few individuals actually give hope to the world. It's a gift that we should never take for granted. Obama has only been with us for a short while but already he has achieved so much - the simple act of his rise to the top is overwhelming. He is the only politician I have ever believed in - he can actually change the world.