Lil Nas X, Rapper
- April 9, 1999
“I 100% want to represent the LGBT community.”
Montero Hill, known as Lil Nas X, is a Grammy Award-winning rapper and social media sensation.
A trailblazer in the hip-hop community as a gay rapper who speaks freely about his sexuality, Nas X entered the international spotlight with his single “Old Town Road.”
Nas X was born outside of Atlanta, Georgia. His father is a gospel singer. His parents divorced when he was 6, and he spent much of his childhood living in housing projects.
As a youth struggling with his sexual orientation, Nas X spent most of his time alone. At age 13, he turned to social media and experimenting with memes. He eventually carved a niche for himself as an internet personality, working to create catchy content he hoped would go viral. He began with short Facebook videos and finally found success on Twitter, where he accumulated more than four million followers. He amassed nine million followers on YouTube. As his songwriting progressed, he adopted his stage name as an homage to the rapper Nas.
In December 2018, Nas X bought beats online and recorded the country rap song “Old Town Road.” He promoted the song on social media with hundreds of memes and with a musical “challenge” on the video-sharing app TikTok. Popular with all kinds of listeners, the song rapidly jumped to the radio, then to the Billboard charts.
With its unique blend of country and hip-hop, “Old Town Road” provoked controversy about its place on the country music charts. Nas X and the country star Billy Ray Cyrus subsequently recorded a remix. Released in April 2019, the single shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for 19 weeks—longer than any song in history. It went 10 times platinum. Only 34 songs have ever achieved this status.
In June 2019, Nas X released “7,” his debut EP on Columbia Records. The seven-track recording features “Old Town Road” and the single “Panini,” which peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100. Nine days after the EP’s release, Nas X came out as gay on Twitter. He is the first artist to do so with a No. 1 hit currently on the charts.
Nas X was nominated for six Grammy Awards in 2020. He won two for “Old Town Road” and also became the first LGBT artist to win a Country Music Association (CMA) Award. He was named to the TIME 100 Next list and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Laura Ricketts, Co-Owner of the Chicago Cubs
- December 15, 1967
“I think the Cubs have come quite a long way … I’d like to see it expand for the LGBT community.”
Laura Ricketts is a lawyer, a philanthropist, a businesswoman and the first openly LGBT co-owner of an American major-league sports franchise. She is also an activist who supports LGBT and Democratic causes.
Ricketts and her three brothers grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the daughter of John Joseph Ricketts, the multibillionaire founder and former CEO of TD Ameritrade. Ricketts’s brother Pete is the governor of Nebraska. Her brother Tom is chairman of the Chicago Cubs.
Raised in a conservative Catholic family, Ricketts worried about coming out. In the early 1990s she told her family, and to her relief, they were immediately supportive.
Ricketts earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1994 and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1998. She became a corporate attorney practicing with Schiff, Hardin & Waite, a Chicago law firm.
Ricketts left the practice to cofound Ecotravel, LLC—a company dedicated to promoting ecotourism worldwide—that operated Ecotravel.com, an online magazine. The Wall Street Journal named Ecotravel.com one of the top websites of its kind in 2002.
Ricketts has generously supported organizations such as Lambda Legal, GayCo Productions, Opportunity Education and the Democratic Party. She serves on the boards of Lambda Legal and Housing Opportunities for Women (HOW), Inc., an organization supporting homeless women and children in Chicago.
Although her parents and siblings are Republicans, Ricketts champions Democratic politics. She co-chaired the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council and became the cofounder and chairwoman of LPAC, the first lesbian political action committee. She was a prominent fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Ricketts served as an Illinois super delegate.
In October 2009, with her brother as board chairman, the Ricketts family paid $845 million for 95% ownership of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. Ricketts and her brothers are board members of the Cubs.
In 2013 the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame inducted Ricketts. In June 2015 she married Brooke Skinner, an executive at Cars.com. They live in Chicago with their daughter.