6. Rachel Maddow*
Making her debut on the Hot 100 in 2009 is a woman who made MSNBC the queer woman’s other go-to network. In 2008, political commentator Rachel Maddow became the first out lesbian to host a prime-time news show on American television, and The Rachel Maddow Show quickly became must-see TV for lesbians and bisexual women everywhere.
Even though the author of a misguided New York Times article on lesbian style, or the lack thereof, got everything else wrong, she was onto something when she praised Maddow for the universal appeal of her glamorous androgyny. Whether Maddow’s shutting down ornery conservatives or mixing up some classic cocktails with Martha Stewart, she does it all with wit, sophistication and, yes, style.
7. Tina Fey
(No. 1 in 2008)
We owe Sarah Palin, big time. If it weren’t for her harebrained bid for Vice Presidency, we wouldn’t have seen nearly as much this year of Tina Fey, whose uncanny Palin impression was pure evil comedic genius. Though last year’s winner of the Hot 100 slipped a few notches on the list in 2009, Fey is still a favorite among AE readers. And why not? Her geek chic appeal, relentlessly creativity and all-encompassing command of NBC’s brilliant 30 Rock put her in the category of Woman To Be Reckoned With. And queer women love that.
Smart, funny, and outspoken (she told her critics to "Suck it!" in her Golden Globes Best Actress acceptance speech), this writer/performer always leaves us wanting more. Now, with the news that she will rejoin her old Saturday Night Live chum Amy Poehler for the new NBC show Weekend Update, it looks like we’ll be getting exactly we deserve.
8. Sara Ramirez
(same rank in 2008)
The Tony Award-winning actress Sara Ramirez is one of the few in her field who have successfully made the transition from the big Broadway stage to the small TV screen. And when Ramirez joined the cast of ABC’s hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy in its second season, few could have predicted that her character, Callie, would turn out to be one of the only out queer characters on broadcast television.
Ramirez has made a huge impact with her portrayal of a woman coming to terms with her sexuality, and loyal Callie fans have hung tough while her female love interests have been unceremoniously ushered out (Brooke Smith) and suddenly whisked in (Jessica Capshaw). Regardless of who Callie ends up with, it’s ultimately Ramirez who has us hooked. With her regal beauty, commanding presence and down-to-earth sex appeal, Ramirez, even in a strong ensemble cast, always stands out .
9. Angelina Jolie*
(No. 11 in 2008)
Bisexual actress Angelina Jolie has long been known as the exception to seemingly every straight woman’s rule, and it appears that she can still cast a spell on queer women too. Last year she was No. 11, this year No. 9. So how does she do it? Toggling between dramatic fare like The Changeling (which won her an Oscar nomination in 2008) and action flicks like Wanted, she manages to embody a variety of very different roles with ease. And if that not enough to guarantee some sort of universal appeal, her stunning looks and feral nature certainly close the deal.
Her humanitarian work (her list of charitable acts and donations is too long to mention) and devotion to her growing family (she gave birth to twins in 2008, bringing her current number of children with partner Brad Pitt to six) show a softer side of the woman who initially won our hearts with her racy interviews about knife play and bondage.
Think Jolie’s already done it all? Next she’ll star in Salt as a rogue CIA operative (a part originally written for Tom Cruise), then reports that will play Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the medical examiner from lesbian author Patricia Cornwell‘s best-selling books. They say variety is the spice of life, and Angelina Jolie continues to be one of our favorite flavors.
10. Gro Hammerseng*
(No. 82 in 2008)
It’s fitting that the professionally athletic Gro Hammerseng made the biggest jump in the Hot 100 rankings from 2008 to 2009. A little leap like that is really nothing for the captain of the Olympic Gold Medal-winning Norway women’s national handball team. It was our coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics that brought Hammerseng to the attention of many AfterEllen.com readers who might not have heard of her before. While handball may not be a sport that is well-known in the United States, it’s wildly popular on an international level, and Hammerseng is a champion.
In addition to being an Olympian, Hammerseng is also openly gay, and her relationship with teammate Katja Nyberg is no secret. Queer fans find their loving public affection with one another to be inspiring, and Hammerseng is perhaps just as beloved by them for being an out lesbian athlete as she is for her athletic prowess.
In a photo for a popular Norwegian calendar published by Henne magazine, Hammerseng is depicted as a modern day Joan of Arc, riding into battle clad in knight’s armor and a confident smile. The calendar’s editor-in-chief was thrilled with the photo, saying, "The combination of femininity and masculinity is fantastic." Hammerseng’s fans have been saying that all along.