Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Herb Ritts

Gay photographer (1952-2002)

Los Angeles born Herb Ritts began his photographic career by taking pictures of his struggling actor friend Richard Gere in 1978 (Ritts later introduced Gere to future wife Cindy Crawford), when they stopped to repair a flat tire (see photo below right). By 1980 he had gained a reputation as a master of art and commercial photography. Ritts produced portraits and editorial fashion photographs for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone magazines. As well, he created successful advertising campaigns for cream of the crop clients: Calvin Klein, Chanel, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Levis, Polo Ralph Lauren and Valentino, among others. His fine art photography has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide, with works residing in significant public and private collections.

Completely self-taught, Herb Ritts used clean lines and strong forms for a graphic, sculptural simplicity that engaged the viewer. Most always shot in black and white, the images challenged conventional notions of gender or race. Social history and fantasy were captured in his memorable photographs of noted individuals in film, fashion, music, politics and society.

Starting in 1988 he directed numerous influential and award winning music videos and commercials. He worked on notable music videos for Madonna, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Chris Isaak, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Tina Turner.

Sadly, Herb Ritts died on December 26, 2002, from pneumonia, at the age of 50. Though he was HIV-positive, the pneumonia was not HIV-related, although his immune system had been compromised. At the time of his death his partner was Erik Hyman, an entertainment lawyer who is now raising twin daughters with husband Max Mutchnick, one of the creators of the wildly successful TV sitcom “Will & Grace.”

Matthew McConaughey for Vanity Fair:

"I think knowing people by first names, not by what they do sexually, is really what it's about. Not being afraid. Fear is the enemy. I've always been comfortable with being gay." – Herb Ritts


  1. Matthew McConaughey should be open about his sexual preferences.

  2. We lost Herb in his prime. Yes, 12yrs ago sadly LGBTQ community. Refuse notice importance of awareness. Herb bought fame to sepia tent. Concept was natural subdue light. Style also Herb many correspondence. Before his fame Herb from. Affluent family with fashon contects. Angers me how Michael Jackson
    (1958-2009) used. Concept from whom? Janet whom inquired Herb found. Micheal harsh towards those. LGTBQ why? Appropriate title during shot In the Closte? Micheal clamor to emulate effeminate. No Queer image which many. Gay men don't acknowledge Michael. Whom continue subduce whom? Young boys never mention due. False image of some especially. Blacks whom bash
    LGBTQ rights many. Black LGBTQ are divided no under. The cover men enjoyed
    photos. German model for Vogue 1991 and Kim Bassinger. Herb style never dated just bought. Allure of beauty and style. To photographer love of Herb style!