Britain’s LGBT community
Things have not always been easy for Britain’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Nevertheless, in less than sixty years from the dark days of homosexuality being criminalised and members of the community being treated extremely poorly, Britain is now consistently ranked as the best place in Europe to be LGBT. Strong legislative protections guaranteeing the rights and dignity of LGBT people, coupled with generally accepting societal attitudes, mean that LGBT communities and people are thriving across Britain.
Six Leading or Influential LGBT people
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look (in no particular order!) at six British LGBT people who have made leading or influential contributions to fields as diverse as sports, business and entertainment.
1. Christopher Bailey MBE, Fashion Designer and Business Leader
After a career as a designer in international fashion houses such as Donna Caran and Gucci, Christopher Bailey is now responsible for over 11,000 employees at the iconic British fashion brand Burberry. He has won various fashion accolades, including Menswear Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. He is a vocal supporter of LGBT rights and equality, and in May 2014, he became the first openly gay executive among London’s FTSE 100 corporations.
2. Jack Monroe, Food Writer
During a time of government austerity, high unemployment and increasing food costs, Jack Monroe initially rose to fame as a result of her blog, in which she shared the nutritious, simple and low-cost recipes accumulated during her time as a single mother struggling to feed her family. She has gone on to become a renowned journalist and writer dealing with issues of poverty and hunger relief.
Monroe came out as trans in 2015 and gave her perspective on living outside strictly defined gender norms: “Non-binary means outside of the binary gender norms of ‘male’ and ‘female’. It’s somewhere in between, one of the many shades between the society-imposed candy pink and baby blue.”
3. Wayne Dhesi, Youth Organiser
Wayne Dhesi set up the website RUComingOut.com in 2012 as a forum for people to share their experiences of ‘coming out’ about their sexuality or gender identity.
He is passionate about supporting people through the process of coming out, and his pieces on mental health and LGBT issues are widely shared on social media. In addition, he also writes in the advice column of popular gay men’s magazine Attitude and is currently working on developing educational materials on the theme of coming out for use by schools.
4. Nicola Adams MBE, Olympic Boxing Medallist
Nicola Adams was not only the first LGBT athlete to win an Olympic boxing gold medal, but she was also the first woman to win any Olympic title in boxing. Adams, who is bisexual, has become an influential member of the LGBT community, coming first in the Independent newspaper’s Pink List, a ranking of powerful LGBT people. She recently represented Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Olympics, bagging a gold medal after knocking out France’s Sarah Ourahmoune.
Relating her ‘coming out’ to GQ magazine, she said “Mum was in the kitchen washing up and I was like, ‘I’ve got something to tell you.’ … I was really sweating, and she says, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I was just like, ‘I’m bisexual.’ And she was like, ‘OK, put the kettle on.’ She said she kind of already knew.”
Adams later wished she had been open about her sexual orientation earlier: “I was expecting some big reaction and I’m thinking, ‘Why have I been stressing about this for months?’”
5. Mhairi Black MP, Politician
In 2015, politics student Mhairi Black, then aged 22, became the youngest Member of Parliament to sit in the House of Commons (the British equivalent of the Polish izba niższa) for almost two hundred years. Representing the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire South in Scotland, her maiden speech, viewed online more than 10 million times, was highly praised across the political spectrum for her passionate positions on housing and support for the unemployed and disabled.
When questioned about her decision to ‘come out’ about her sexual orientation, she replied, “I’ve never been in!”.
6. Pam St. Clement, Actress
A household name in the UK thanks to her two-and-a-half-decade-long portrayal of Pat Butcher on the British soap opera EastEnders, Pam St. Clement is synonymous with London’s East End. Earning almost iconic status in UK pop culture due to her character’s fiery temper and brash taste in earrings, Pam has become increasingly involved in the LGBT movement since her character’s on-screen death in 2012.
Speaking of her involvement with LGBT rights organisation Stonewall, she remarked that she’d never been “a rabid party-political person, but striving for justice and fairness for all seems logical.”
What do you think of the people you’ve read about? Have you heard about any of them before? Who do you think should be added to this list?