15 Queer Woman and Non-Binary Babes Who Wore Top Hats Better Than Any Willy Wonka

This weekend, Timothee Chalamet released the first photo of himself as young Willy Wonka into the wild and the internet went as berserk as it always does every time this Victorian doll disguised as a sentient human man does basically anything at all.

Which of course made me think: queer women and non-binary babes always do it so much better. That’s especially true with top hats and here are 15 pieces of proof!

Gonzo, A Christmas Carol

Non-binary icon Carly Usdin also confirmed Gonzo as a non-binary icon based on the recent Gonzerella storyline where they dressed up like a fairytale princess and asked thier friends to just accept them for who they are. And who they are here is: the queer who wore it first!

Marlene Dietrich

Photo by Eugene Robert Richee/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

The original Shane McCutcheon, Merlene Dietrich was described by a film critic in the 30s as a woman whose “masculinity appeals to women and her sexuality to men.” I can certainly attest to that first thing!

Gladys Bentley

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

An iconic performer of the Harlem Renaissance, which historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. famously said was “surely as gay as it was Black,” Bentley knew audiences loved her fashion as much as they loved her singing. “For the customers of the club, one of the unique things about my act was the way I dressed,” she once wrote. “I wore immaculate full white dress shirts with stiff collars, small bow ties and shirts, oxfords, short Eton jackets and hair cut straight back.”

Anne Lister, Gentleman Jack

The Yorkshire lady of renown even married another woman — England’s purported first gay marriage — in a top hat!

Josephine Baker

Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images

Oh you know, just your average world renowned performer / World War II spy / activist — who also enjoyed looking dapper out and about on the town. (And by “town,” I mean “Paris.”)

Jo March, Little Women

“Women!” — Jo March

Callie Torres, Grey’s Anatomy

Sometimes, after a long and hard day, what your partner needs is hats and gifts and donuts and lingerie. Callie Torres taught us that!


Ah, Babadook! They’re the top-hatted gay icon we didn’t know we needed!

Emily Dickinson and Sue Gilbert, Dickinson

Or should I say “Lysander Periwinkle” and “Tybalt Butterfly”? Sue and Em love dressing up “as boys” because they look cool, because it affords them a certain amount of freedom, because no one’s suggesting their breeches should have artificially wide hips to “help them look fertile” and because they love making other boys look stupid.

America Chavez

The cover of America #2 has everyone’s favorite queer Latina superhero heavily referencing Beyonce’s Lemonade, which especially makes sense as Gabby Rivera, who was running the series at the time, wrote: “I love women. I love myself. I feel like sometimes I’m not considered a woman. People assume I’m a masculine kind of person because I wear hats or boots. And to me, womanhood is so flexible and so ever-expanding and how beautiful is it to show all the ways that it manifests? And especially when it comes to Latinas and Black women. Our bodies’ shapes and sizes vary, and are equally supported by the community and equally loved.”

Sara Lance, Legends of Tomorrow

I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here because it’s from the latest Legends of Tomorrow trailer, but I think a good guess would be: circus!

Janelle Monáe

Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Janelle Monae’s 2019 Met Gala dress was a Christian Siriano custom design that “hit all the high notes: exaggerated glamour, art-historical pomp, and a duality in sync with our masculine-feminine age.” It also featured about 30 top hats.

Nan and Kitty, Tipping the Velvet

Just a couple of drag performers who fall in love and can’t keep their hands off each other or their top hats on. Ah, history!

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. okay I didn’t know my sexuality could be summarized as “women and non-binary people wearing top hats and a Victorian doll disguised as a sentient human man, I guess” (Timothée Chalamet is one of the four celebrity men I find attractive, the other two being Cillian Murphy, Dane Dehaan and Andrew Scott, who, all three, creepily kinda fit this vibe?) also, MARLENE. DIETRICH. Marlene Dietrich. How was this person real?! (that photo was my laptop screensaver for years).

  2. For the love of God, Gonzo is NOT non binary. Yes, he’s weird, eccentric maybe even a little bit autistic, but never trans or nonbinary. He’s always been a male straight character. He’s never shown any interest in male characters.

    Stop trying to change beloved characters in order to fit the woke agenda. It’s really starting to get annoying now.

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