Gay Power: The pink list

Who are the most influential gay men and women? To mark this weekend's Pride, we present our annual list of the top 101 out-and-proud Britons, from actors to authors - and there's even a Navy officer

Thursday 20 October 2011 13:49

Tonight, London's EuroPride ends with a show at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring Graham Norton, Sir Ian McKellen, Julian Clary, Elton John and Sandi Toksvig. But there is another list of high-profile names linked to this weekend's celebration of gay and lesbian Britain that shows how times have changed since the Pride march was purely political and was attempting to win now accepted rights such as an equal age of consent. For this year, Pride is supported by Ford, British Airways, Virgin Mobile and the Mayor of London.

While some may see this as business and politicians courting the pink pound and vote, it's also a clear indication that, from business to the arts, gay people are finally being accepted without prejudice.

Each year, to chart the progress of this move to equality, The Independent on Sunday publishes its Pink List, a celebration of the country's most influential gay men and women. A few years ago we ran 20 names, some of whom needed persuading to appear. This year we had to choose from the hundreds of suggestions. And let's make it clear, all the people on this list are leaders in their own fields; nobody is featured here just because of their sexuality.

It is fascinating to see that so many people listed have made use of the civil ceremony legislation -although this dry term seems destined to be forgotten: everyone refers to "marrying".

That doesn't mean that gays and lesbians don't face more battles - equality in schools for a start - but this is a moment to mark the progress made, and we thank all those who appear here.

Andrew Tuck

Judge and Jury

Each person's ranking is shown above their name and, if they charted last year, their previous position is given in brackets. The scoring is done by the paper's editors and contributors. Due to the high number of new entrants, some people have fallen in the list despite having had good years. We have also included fewer people from the arts, so some big names are absent.


Damian Barr, David Benedict, Francis Elliott, Suzi Feay, Marcus Field, Simon Gage, Sarah Harris, Dominic Lutyens, Madeleine North, Dan Poole, Susie Rushton, James Sherwood, Peter Stanford, Abigail Townsend, Andrew Tuck and special thanks to Hugo Eyre-Varnier

101 (new)

Tom Konig-Oppenheimer, Director and Co-Owner, The Communications Store

Konig-Oppenheimer runs one of the UK's most powerful fashion and lifestyle PR businesses, representing Roland Mouret, Dr Hauschka, Home House, Rocco Forte Hotels, Versace and Armani. HEV

100 (new)

Peter Cross, Managing Partner, Yellow Door

After a 15-year career in international marketing, Cross joined Mary Portas (the woman responsible for turning round Harvey Nichols) at Britain's most respected retail marketing and advertising consultancy Yellow Door. Retail groups such as Louis Vuitton, Miss Selfridge, Oasis and French Connection have all hired them to refresh their brands. HEV

99 (down 98)

Barnaby Dawe, Managing Director, Heart FM

In the past year Dawe, 36, has left Sky TV to become managing director of Heart FM, the UK's biggest local radio brand. Adding radio to his repertoire, after stints in publishing and TV, Dawe is a man to watch. HEV

98 (down 97)

Steve Parkinson, National Brand Director, Emap Radio

Last year Parkinson, 39, charted in our Gay 101 as marketing director for Chrysalis. Now he's jumped ship to Emap Radio where he looks after Kerrang!, Kiss, Heat, Q and Magic - the most popular radio station in London. Emap's radio empire has 17 million listeners a month. HEV

97 (down 92)

Gary Stolkin, Headhunter

Stolkin, 46, is an ex-banker and advertising chief who runs the world's biggest headhunting firm in the advertising and media sector. He sold the business earlier this year in a deal that sees him stay as CEO. He is also a London magistrate. HEV

96(down 65)

Peter Gill, Playwright

In 1987, Peter Gill's Mean Tears caused a sensation when it was staged at the National Theatre with a gay central character and Bill Nighy as his lover. Gill already had an established reputation as a director and continues to be feted for his productions and writing. In September, Gill, 67, will direct John Osborne's 1956 play Look Back in Anger at the Theatre Royal, Bath. MF

95 (new)

Andrew Hayden-Smith, TV Presenter

Cutting his teeth in teen soap Byker Grove, Hayden-Smith came out in 2004 during his highly successful stint as children's TV presenter for the Beeb. Hayden-Smith returned to acting this year in the second series of Dr Who. SG

94 (down 83)

Maggi Hambling, Artist

This year saw the publication of Maggi Hambling: The Works, a book that looks at her contentious pictures and sculptures. On Desert Island Discs she made it clear to interviewer Sue Lawley that she prefers to be called a dyke. Her memorial to the composer Benjamin Britten divided residents of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where it stands on the beach.

93 (down 29)

Miriam Margolyes, Actress

Margolyes, 66, would have been perfect as Charles Dickens's muse, seemingly made for roles in Oliver Twist, Little Dorrit and the 2002 biopic Dickens. Most recently Margolyes appeared in Stephen Hopkins's The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Ladies in Lavender alongside fellow acting veterans, Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. DP

92 (new)

Maureen Chadwick, Scriptwriter

Chadwick, 52, is co-founder of Shed, the company behind a string of risqué television hits including Footballers' Wives and racy jailbird-romp, Bad Girls. Bad Girls The Musical, premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse is expected to go the West End. SH

91 (new)

Harry Rich Deputy, Chief Executive, Design Council

Rich followed an unconventional path from human-rights campaigning, through law, advertising regulation, charities and a business career before landing at the Design Council in 1999. His pioneering work proving the economic impact of design and its application to business transformation has made him a sought-after speaker worldwide. HEV

90 (new)

Saffron Burrows, Actress

Burrows has segued effortlessly from middle-class socialist roots in Hackney, to the catwalks of Yves Saint Laurent, to the dazzle of Tinseltown - and all before the age of 33. She has a string of Hollywood roles under her belt including Circle of Friends (1995), big budget epic Troy in 2004 and, most recently, Perfect Creature. SH

89 (s 60)

Anya Gallaccio, Artist

Ever since she showed at Damien Hirst's 1989 exhibition, Freeze, installation artist Gallaccio, born in 1963, has explored transience via such organic, ephemeral materials as ice, chocolate and fruit. For her latest project, After the Gold Rush, she has created six Zinfandel wines from the Sonoma Valley region of California - portraying landscape through taste and flavour. DL

88 (down 85)

Spencer Fox, Managing Director, Axis

Spencer started Axis four years ago as a full-service ad agency. Axis has quietly grown into a real contender with a client list that includes Abercrombie & Kent, Porcelanosa, Levi's and Morgan Stanley. Its work and unique style of service has seen the agency pick up awards every year since they started. HEV

87 (down 56)

Sir Antony Sher, Actor, Author & Playwright

The South African-born actor, 57, cut his teeth with the Gay Sweatshop theatre group back in the 1970s before joining the RSC in 1982. His work on stage and screen has netted him two Olivier awards, a knighthood and now a husband. DBarr

86 (new)

Chris Bryant, MP

Recently resigned as Lord Falconer's parliamentary aide to speak out on Lords reform and refused to take a job as a Labour Party chief, disproving a "careerist'" tag. Former C of E vicar, 44, remains influential but destined to be a maverick, not a minister. FE

85 (new)

Sandi Toksvig, Broadcaster and Writer

Forty-seven-year-old Toksvig's likeable schtick on radio shows such as I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue and Excess Baggage has made her a popular voice in middle England. She is also a successful author of both children's and adults' books: her latest, Melted Into Air, set in Umbria, is out this week. With her partner, she is mother to three kids. SG

84 (new)

Martin Raymond and Chris Sanderson, Trend Forecasters

Together both personally (civil ceremony in April) and in business, Raymond, 44, and Sanderson, 38, run The Future Laboratory, one of Europe's most influential trend forecasting consultancies. Their work predicting lifestyle and consumer trends worldwide is used by companies such as American Express, Vodafone, Unilever and Nike. They also produce Viewpoint, the £45 per copy six-monthly trends bible. They write a column for this paper's Sunday Review. HEV

83 (up 88)

Andrew Cooke, Film & Video Examiner, BBFC

With a team of 35 examiners at the British Board of Film Classification, Cooke is responsible for certifying films, DVDs and digital games in Britain - 14,000 last year. Examiners come from a variety backgrounds - Cooke, 41, is a former City lawyer. AT

82 (down 62)

Philip Hensher, Author, Critic

Diverse, entertaining and accomplished though they are, Hensher's novels are just one string to his bow; he is also a prolific reviewer, columnist and pundit. His most recent novel was The Fit. SF

81 (down 38)

Angela Mason, Director Of The Women & Equality Unit

A lawyer by training, Mason, 61, joined gay rights group Stonewall in 1992 and became its executive director. Its effective campaigns won her plaudits and, in 2003, she took a government post as Director of the Women & Equality Unit within the DTI. PS

80 (down 31)

Eileen Gallagher, CEO, Shed Productions

Gallagher, 46, a former LWT executive, co-founded the independent television company, Shed, in 1998 (with Maureen Chadwick, No 92). Floated on the stock market in March 2005 it is now worth over £50m. Gallagher has recently secured a second series of popular BBC1 drama Waterloo Road. SH

79 (down 54)

Michael Clark, Dancer Turned Choreographer

Currently taking on Stravinsky at the Barbican, the founder of the Michael Clark Dance Company is notorious for rejecting the Royal Ballet for Ballet Rambert, wearing costumes by Leigh Bowery, taking heroin and having sex on stage. Clark, 44, continues to develop his own anarchic choreography. Before And After: The Fall detailed his struggle with drugs. O My Goddess mixed the Human League with Satie. An X-rated Billy Elliot. DBarr

78 (down 42)

Boy George, Musician & DJ

Musician, DJ, fashion designer and naughty boy, George O'Dowd is better known as the gender-bending singer of 1980s supergroup Culture Club. George, 45, currently carrying out a community service order in New York for wasting police time (it's a long story), transformed the face of pop and continues to put his sometimes outlandish ideas out there with musicals like Taboo and books like his recent Straight. SG

77 (down 10)

Lord Waheed Alli, Television Producer

When Waheed Alli, 41, was appointed to the House of Lords by Tony Blair in 1998 he was the upper chamber's first openly gay peer. He made his name as a television producer (alongside partner Charlie Parsons) at Planet 24 which dreamed up Big Breakfast for Channel 4 and made Alli, a south London boy who left school at 16, a millionaire. He was influential in Lords debates on repealing Section 28 but has tired a little of politics and returned with new energy to his former haunts. His revival for ITV of Crossroads failed, but Olga TV, set up to make Paul O'Grady's programmes, has this year attracted talk of lucrative takeover bids. PS

76 (new)

Margot James, Entrepreneur and Political Candidate

The 47-year-old sold her PR firm for £4m and was appointed a vice-chairman of the Tories by David Cameron. A dead cert for a safe seat at the next election, she wisely resisted pressure to stand against Ken Livingstone to become London mayor. Jay Hunt, a fashion stylist and TV presenter, is her partner. FE

75 (down 32)

Ivan Massow, Entrepreneur

Maverick Massow, 38, made his name selling financial services to gay men. During his brief stint as chairman of the ICA he ruffled feathers with his criticism of contemporary conceptual art. And as for politics, he was a Tory, then a New Labourite, and then a Tory again and, despite never even being a candidate for a council seat, was talked about more than some ministers. It's been a deliberately quieter year for Massow who is concentrating on running Jake, an online professional networking service with 30,000 members. AT

74 (up 78)

Dr Pepe, Catalan Psychiatrist

Catalan, 57, a consultant psychiatrist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, has an international reputation for work on the mental health of HIV and Aids patients. He has written books on the subject and advises the World Health Organisation, focusing on the problems of mental health care for HIV patients in developing countries. He became a father last year and recently celebrated a civil partnership with his partner of 30 years. MF

73 (up 80)

Matthew Parris, Political Commentator, Author

Born in South Africa, Parris, 56, spent seven years as a Conservative MP during which time he featured in a television documentary trying to live on state benefits for a week (he ran out of money for the electricity meter). He left the Commons in 1986 to become a television presenter and newspaper columnist, making most headlines this year with his admission that he hasn't used shampoo for a decade. PS

72 (down 68)

Clive Barker, Horror Novelist

That rarity in the horror world, an out gay writer, Barker has always sought gently to educate his readers while splattering them with gore. His Books of Blood collections of short stories are memorable for their strong heroines, ambiguous heroes and celebration of diversity. SF

71 (down 50)

Rupert Everett, Actor & Novelist

Tall, dark and handsome rent-boy turned romantic lead, Everett, 47, played the perfect gay best friend in My Best Friend's Wedding. Once tipped as the next James Bond, he settled for Prince Charming in Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, and the Fox in the first film in the Chronicles of Narnia series. He has three movies scheduled for 2006/7 and is writing his autobiography, likely to be steamy. DBarr

70 (down 46)

Jonathan Harvey, Writer

His play-turned-film Beautiful Thing (in London again this summer) was a landmark in gay storytelling, featuring working-class teenage lovers and a happy ending, while his sit-com Gimme Gimme Gimme beat Will and Grace to the gay man/straight female flatmate format. Harvey, 38, has also brought his gay touch to cliffhanging episodes of Coronation Street. SG

69 (new)

Fiona Shaw, Actress

Shaw wavers expertly on the knife-edge of controversy. Criticised and applauded in equal measure in Deborah Warner's Richard II (1995), slashing wildly across the stage in The Taming of the Shrew (1987) or in Electra as a woman gripped by madness (1988), shecreates a stir. Shaw, 50, has also worked extensively in film and television, most famously as Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter films. She was appointed a CBE in 2001. SH

68 (up 72)

Nick Partridge, Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust

This 48-year-old joined the Terrence Higgins Trust in 1985 as office manager. As chief executive for the past 15 years, he says he has worked for at least five different organisations as the trust has adapted to the changing nature of the Aids battle. Appointed an OBE in 1999, he also chairs Involve, a body which encourages public involvement in NHS planning, and is a member of the Healthcare Commission. PS

67 (up 79)

Johann Hari, Columnist

Hari, 27, became the youngest journalist to be shortlisted for the prestigious Orwell Prize this year. He has reported on everything from the savage war in Congo to the Cannes Film Festival in his columns for the Independent and Evening Standard, and he appears in The New York Times, Le Monde and on Newsnight Review. He is a strong supporter of gay equality, and bagged the first interviews for a gay publication with Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy before the last election. They expressed his hope that Britain is becoming a "post-gay culture", where "nobody gives a toss about your sexuality". DP

66 (new)

Iain Renwick, CEO, Liberty

In his four years at the helm of the famous department store, Renwick has begun to restore both the company's fortunes and its reputation for selling a unique fusion of fashion and the decorative arts. He is also chairman of Crusaid, Britain's leading HIV and Aids charity, and a keen art collector. He married his partner this year. HEV

65 (up 67)

Neil Tennant, Musician

The droll public face of the Pet Shop Boys who became poptastically famous in 1986, after previously working as a journalist for Smash Hits. Since then, Tennant, 51, has resuscitated diva careers including those of Dusty Springfield and Liza Minnelli, and lent considerable clout to lesbian and gay charitable projects. After more than 20 years as a pop duo, the Boys have just released a second single from their latest album, Fundamental. DB

64 (new)

Sean Mathias, Theatre and Film Director

Welshman Mathias, 50, had successful careers as an actor and writer before becoming one of Britain's most inspired theatre directors. His West End and Broadway show Les Parents Terribles discovered Jude Law, while his re-examination of Noel Coward with Design for Living introduced us to Rachel Weisz. He is about to start filming a romantic political thriller about Cecil Rhodes. And his Aladdin at the Old Vic, starring his former partner Sir Ian McKellen, has been that theatre's one recent triumph. He lives in Cape Town and London. AT

63 (new)

Mark Feehily, Boyband Member

No boy band ever escapes the assumption that one of the members must be gay and Westlife proved the assumption to be on the money when Feehily came out earlier this year. With the seemingly unreserved support of Westlife fans, Mark went on to announce that he was dating the singer Kevin McDaid from boy band V. SG

62 (down 40)

Brian Paddick, Policeman, Deputy Assistant Commissioner

Paddick, 50, had been tipped as a future MetCommissioner but relations with the current incumbent, Sir Ian Blair, have deteriorated. Paddick's account of events surrounding the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground contradicted Blair's. He has moved from a front-line role into information management. The grandson of a policeman, he joined the force at 18 and rose through the ranks. Many think he could excel at politics. PS

61 (down 25)

Chris Smith, Chair, London Cultural Consortium

Smith became Britain's first openly gay MP in 1984 and then its first out gay cabinet minister in 1997 when he was given Culture, Media and Sport. Dropped from the Cabinet in 2001, he left the Commons in 2005. Smith heads the London Cultural Consortium, charged with developing the capital as a centre of cultural and creative excellence. He revealed in 2005 that he has been HIV positive for 18 years, prompted by Nelson Mandela's remarks following the death of his son from the virus. PS

60 (new) Ben Summerskill, Rights Campaigner

A former journalist, Summerskill, 44, has since 2003 been chief executive of the gay-rights group Stonewall. His lobbying was key to the civil partnerships legislation and the repeal of Section 28. This year the group has been challenging homophobia in schools, the workplace and the media - Chris Moyles being a target. AT

59 (=59)

Patrick Cox, Shoe Designer

Part of London's Canadian style mafia , Cox, 43, has designed footwear for the cream of British fashion including Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and the late John Flett. Cox's first shop opened in 1991 but it was the launch of his Patrick Cox Wannabe collection in 1993 that made him a star. As well as picking up a fistful of British Fashion Awards, launching two fragrances and becoming creative director of Charles Jourdan in 2003, Cox is also a player on London's A-list social scene. JS

58 (=58)

Matthew Williamson, Fashion Designer

Manchester-born Williamson, 34, was a hit when he unveiled his Electric Angels debut collection in 1997. His delicate, bright creations are worn by everyone from Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker to Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2005 Williamson became creative director at Emilio Pucci, launched a fragrance, and was honoured at the V&A's Moët & Chandon fashion tribute. JS

57 (new)

Stephen Whitehead, Group Corporate Affairs Director, Barclays

Since leaving drinks giant Allied Domecq last year, following its £7bn takeover by Pernod Ricard, Whitehead has worked for the UK's third largest bank, Barclays. The 42-year-old Yorkshireman joined Allied Domecq, owner of Malibu, as group corporate affairs director in 2002, but before that held senior communications roles at fellow drinks group Diageo and drug giants Eli Lilly and Glaxo. ATownsend

56 (new)

Phyllida Lloyd, Theatre Director

One of Britain's most serious theatrical talents (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Way of the World for the National), Phyllida Lloyd's success as creator of the soft-centred spectacular Mamma Mia was unexpected. The glittering Abba musical has been performed in five countries and has brought with it fame and fortune, but she hasn't forgotten her roots. Lloyd, 47, has just finished Verdi's Macbeth at Covent Garden and is currently working on Peter Grimes with Opera North. SH

55 (up 63)

Craig Jones, Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander

Jones, 37, is the most senior publicly gay member of the military; he came out after 11 years in the service in 2000, on the day gay people were legally allowed to join the forces. He has been the lead consultant for the gay community in the armed forces since 2001, and in December 2005 he was appointed an MBE for his contribution to diversity within the Royal Navy, and for his support of gay and lesbian personnel. DP

54 (down 47)

Neil Bartlett, Theatre Director and Novelist

Brilliant, beautiful, and mischievous, he is the author of several novels, including the Whitbread-shortlisted Mr Clive & Mr Page, has written and performed his own plays, and became celebrated as a director of exquisite productions - often of sexually ambiguous dramas such as The Servant - during his time as artistic director at the Hammersmith Lyric. This summer, Bartlett, 47, raised the curtain at the Aldeburgh Festival, with a highly-acclaimed Rake's Progress. MF

53 (up 55)

Angela Eagle, Labour MP

After beating a Tory minister to win her Wallasey seat in 1992, this former trade union official, 45, held various ministerial posts from 1997 to 2002. She came out publicly in 1997, the first woman MP to do so since Maureen Colquhoun in the 1970s. Now on Labour's National Executive, she led opposition to Tony Blair's education reforms. PS

52 (up 69)

Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP

The only middle or junior ranking minister in the recent reshuffle to survive the "great cull" at Defra - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Bradshaw, 45, won Exeter in 1997 for Labour from a Tory candidate who described homosexuality as "sterile, disease-ridden and god- forsaken". A former award-winning BBC journalist, Christian Socialist Bradshaw has ambitions to join the Cabinet. PS

51 (down 36)

Peter Tatchell, Campaigner With Outrage!

His three and a half decades of high-profile and highly personal campaigning for human rights have seen Tatchell, 54, receive death threats and much abuse. Born in Australia, he began fighting homophobia in 1969, eventually founding OutRage! which attacked the hypocrisy of closeted gays who publicly condemned same-sex relationships. Yet he was magnanimous earlier this year in response to the coming out of Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat who defeated him in a 1983 by-election in Bermondsey marred by homophobic taunts. He is, however, making life uncomfortable for "equality minister" Ruth Kelly, who has links to the traditionalist Roman Catholic organisation, Opus Dei. PS

50 (down 23)

Nigel Coates, Architect

No prissy white minimalism for this architect: 57-year-old Coates's butch gay sensibility has been evident in his use of the body as a metaphor for the city since he arrived on the scene as a teacher and designer in the early 1980s. In addition to his work in practice, Coates is also Professor of Architecture at the Royal College of Art. MF

49 (new)

Andrew Pierce, Journalist

Feared and revered in equal measure, Pierce is a tenacious political hack with a talent for breaking stories about the great and good. Pierce, 45, was brought up on a Swindon council estate, attended his local comp, never went to university and cut his teeth on local papers. Currently assistant editor of The Times, he is also a seasoned broadcaster and a regular on Question Time. SH

48 (up 49)

Sir Adrian Fulford, Judge

The first out gay to be named a judge in Britain, Fulford, 53, is an international law and human rights expert. In 2003 he was among the first members of the judiciary to be sworn in to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. PS

47 (down 46)

Ben Daniels, Actor

The dashing and highly-talented Daniels, 42, is a familiar face. He played it straight in Beautiful Thing, before being strangely drawn to a leopard in Passion in the Desert. He's best known for playing Finn "a four-times-married heartbreaker who's sensibly had the snip" in the BBC's Cutting It. Last year he was back on the big screen in sci-fi flick Doom. He remains a stalwart of the theatre, in demand by leading directors. DBarr

46 (up 61)

Jeanette Winterson, Novelist

Lesbian London's most glamorous fruit'n'veg seller continues to bang the drum for fresh produce and good nutrition in her newspaper articles, but the author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit hasn't forgotten the day job. Her last novel, Lighthousekeeping, was a sparkling return to form; and her first novel for children, Tanglewreck, is published tomorrow by Bloomsbury. SF

45 (up 51)

James Clark, Ambassador

Early in his career Clark, 43, spent three years in Berlin as a teacher, where he initially had to sleep rough. However, after holding various roles at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office he became the British Ambassador to Luxembourg, where he lives with his partner. DP

44 (up 66)

Howard Hodgkin, Artist

Hodgkin, 74, whose acutely atmospheric paintings are often distillations of personal memories, represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1984. In 1985, he won the Turner Prize. Tate Britain's current major exhibition of his work traces his development as an artist over more than 50 years. DL

43 (up 53)

Scott Mills, DJ

Amidst the furore caused by Chris Moyles's use of the word "gay" to mean "rubbish" on Radio 1 (deemed AOK by the BBC), Mills, 32, has proved that the station is ultimately cool with the gay thing simply by maintaining his role as one of its most popular DJs fronting the 4-7pm drivetime slot. SG

42 (up 64)

Wolfgang Tillmans, Artist

German-born Tillmans, 38, takes apparently artless but painstakingly composed photographs. His inclusive, eclectic imagery (Concorde in flight, Kate Moss, homoerotic, uniformed men) won him the Turner Prize in 2000. Freedom from the Known, Tillman's first American exhibition, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York earlier this year. MF

41 (down 09)

Sarah Waters, Novelist

Waters made her name with her gripping and tightly-plotted historical novels, Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith, which evoked lesbian lives in the Victorian era. But earlier this year she made a triumphant change of direction with The Night Watch, a complicated story, told backwards, set during and just after the Second World War. The book was a best-seller, shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Can she get a second Booker nomination? She deserves to. SF

40 (down 20)

Matthew Bourne, Choreographer

With Bourne we have come to expect the unexpected: a groundbreaking, decidedly homoerotic, all-male Swan Lake, a gender-reversed version of Carmen - The Car Man - and most recently a balletic adaptation of Tim Burton's Edward Scissor-hands. Bourne, 46, was appointed an OBE in 2001 and won an Olivier Award in 2003 for his work on Mary Poppins. SH

39 (=39)

Julian Clary, Television Host

His appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? proved that Julian Clary has transformed himself from a risky TV persona into an entirely acceptable proposition, despite an eye-wateringly explicit autobiography, My Glittering Passage. He has also started writing for the New Statesman. SG

38 (up 41)

Carol Ann Duffy, Poet & Playwright

Duffy won the coveted TS Eliot prize in January for her latest collection, Rapture. The linked poems in the book tell the story of a passionate affair and subsequent separation (she recently split up with the novelist and poet Jackie Kay after a long relationship). This year a handsome Selected Poems was published by Penguin. Many of her poems are modern classics. SF

37 (up 43)

Tyler Brule, Chairman & Creative Director of Wink

This year, like every year, has been good for Brûlé who has seen his design agency, Winkreative, boom. His client list is a who's who of chic brands: AmEx, BA, NTT DoCoMo.He first shot to prominence with Wallpaper*, which he founded, but he also makes TV shows, writes a column for the FT and is in demand as a speaker at events all over the world.

36 (up 37)

Graham Norton, Television Host

Irish comedian Graham Norton has become one of the most influential gay men in light entertainment via his chat show, So Graham Norton, and, more recently, as frontman to prime-time Saturday night show Strictly Dance Fever. Despite building his career on extreme innuendo, he is a gay figure even middle England finds oddly comforting. SG

35 (up 57)

Gregory Doran, Author & Associate Director at the RSC

Preston-born actor-turned-director Doran, 48, forms a thesp power couple with partner Sir Antony Sher. Doran has brought Shakespeare alive for audiences winning an Olivier Award for his 2005 Gunpowder season at the RSC. He even looks a bit like the Bard. DBarr

34 (new)

Deborah Warner, Theatre Director

Over the course of her 25-year career Warner, 47, has been a director with the Royal Shakespeare Company and associate director with the Royal National Theatre, but is perhaps best known for her collaborations with Fiona Shaw. Their association began with Warner's interpretation of Sophocles' Elektra, and is famous for her casting of Shaw as Richard II. Warner was created a CBE in June.

33 (up 35)

Philip Treacy, Milliner

Before he'd even left the Royal College of Art with his fashion MA, the softly- spoken Irish milliner, 39, had attracted the attention of then Tatler style editor Isabella Blow. As Blow's resident hat designer, Treacy became the darling of Vogue, and in 1991 Karl Lagerfeld invited him to design hats for Chanel Haute Couture. His collaboration with Blow was celebrated with the Design Museum's When Philip Met Isabella exhibition, which has toured the world.JS

32 (up 33)

Paul O'Grady, Television Host

Defecting from ITV to Channel 4 with a new show that starts in September, O'Grady, 51, has has come a long way since his days telling off-colour jokes as Lily Savage to tipsy gay men at the Vauxhall Tavern. SG

31 (down 30)

Ashley Steel, Director, KPMG

Steel, 45, is global head of transport at the accountancy giant, sits on the Board Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and is Board Sponsor on Sexual Orientation. Since joining KPMG in 1996 she has worked in more than 30 countries and has helped her company develop ICE, the information, communication and entertainment side of its business. KPMG recently became the 100th organisation to join Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme for employers. SR

30 (up 34)

Simon Russell, Beale Actor

Russell Beale, 45, is to tragedy what procrastination was to Hamlet. Perhaps that's why it took him decades to play the tortured Prince - the 2000 National Theatre production gave him the role of his career. His name is enough to fill a house. He's been playing a comedic King Arthur in the hit Broadway musical Monty Python's Spamalot but this week returns to the National in The Life of Galileo. DBarr

29 (down 08)

David Hockney, Artist

Hockney, 68, has never made any bones about his sexuality: from the start he was famous for paintings with homoerotic themes, such as Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool (1966), which depicted the naked backside of his young lover. Forty years on, Hockney still has a twinkle in his eye. Last month one of his most famous paintings, The Splash (1966), was sold at Sotheby's in London for £2.6m. He is also an out- spoken pro-smoker. MF

28 (down 26)

Simon Callow, Actor & Author

This year Callow has hit the mark with Hello Americans, a well-received book on Orson Welles. Callow outed himself in another literary work, 1984's autobiographical Being an Actor. He went on to become a staple in Merchant Ivory productions such as A Room With A View (1985) and Maurice (1987). His rich, rolling vowels have resounded in numerous films most memorably, perhaps, Four Weddings and a Funeral. DBarr

27 (new)

Nicholas Boles, Political Adviser

A key thinker in Project Cameron, Boles, 40, has reason to be proud of his Policy Exchange outfit. Once ignored and reviled, the bastion of Tory modernisers is now modish in the extreme. He set up a DIY supply firm in the mid-1990s and has worked in the theatre. FE

26 (new)

Spencer Livermore, Political Adviser

Superbright adviser to Gordon Brown. Talent-spotted at Labour's economic research unit, he is now a trusted policy confidant of the Chancellor. Beautifully placed to become a serious power in Brown's No 10. Born in Slough, educated at LSE. Aged 30. FE

25 (down 22)

George Michael, Musician

Recently more famous for his brushes with the law - falling asleep at the wheel and driving away from an incident with parked cars - Michael has graduated from biggest British pop star of the 1980s to beloved openly promiscuous gay man of today. Now producing free music for his fans and soon to embark on a sold-out tour, he is preparing for civil partnership with long-term lover Kenny Goss. SG

24 (new)

Ali Smith, Writer

Ali Smith has been Booker-shortlisted twice for her formally inventive novels Hotel World, narrated by a dead chambermaid, and The Accidental, the story of a mysterious and androgynous outsider who infiltrates a family holiday. She beat Salman Rushdie and Nick Hornby to the Whitbread Novel Prize 2005, and The Accidental also made it to the Orange Prize shortlist this year. She has brilliantly combined literary style with commercial appeal and is at the forefront of a new wave of women's writing. SF

23 (down 21)

Stephen Fry, Television Host, Actor, Author

An accomplished television actor, presenter of shows such as QI, director of films such as Bright Young Things and author of best-sellers such as The Hippopotamus, 49-year-old Fry has proved that posh, effete men don't only seem gay but sometimes actually are. SG

22 (down 12)

David Starkey, Historian & Broadcaster

The 61-year-old Starkey is variously known as Britain's rudest man and the best-paid presenter on British television. The first epithet is due to his flamboyant lack of inhibition on platforms from Radio 4's The Moral Maze to his recent polemic Who Killed Christianity? The second dates from his million-pound deal to walk and talk his way through history documentaries on Channel 4. Now regarded with suspicion by his erstwhile academic colleagues, he has done stints as a shock jock and as a commentator on royal matters, from the succession to the Queen's hairstyle. PS

21 (up 24)

Michael Grandage, Theatre Director, Donmar

A jobbing actor in 1996, Grandage, 44, is now one of Britain's most highly regarded theatre directors, currently artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse. His recently opened Evita at the Adelphi is the latest in a string of hits which includes Guys and Dolls, Edward II with Joseph Fiennes and Richard III with Kenneth Branagh. MF

20 (new)

Janet Paraskeva, Chief Executive of The Law Society

A teacher by profession, Paraskeva took the reins at the Law Society in 2000. Patient and pragmatic, she likened the task of restoring the battered credibility of the society to "turning around a supertanker". Prior to that she was Director for England of the National Lottery Charities Board, awarding more than £1bn to voluntary and community groups. At 60, Paraskeva has recently been appointed as the First Civil Service Commissioner and the Chair of the Olympic Lottery Distributor. She expects to retire from the society this summer. SH

19 (=19)

Remy Blumenfeld, Television Producer

In 1992, Blumenfeld, now 41, founded Brighter Pictures from the bedroom of his Brixton flat. In December 2005 he sold the company to Endemol for £15m. He is now planning the launch of Amaze TV which will make more of the risqué shows that have made him famous - he's the man behind Make Me a Mum (a show he sold to Holland, in which a woman chooses a sperm donor) and Something About Miriam, in which six straight men unwittingly woo a transsexual. HEV

18 (up 73)

Russell T Davies, Screenwriter

Davies's revival of Doctor Who helped earn him the Dennis Potter award for outstanding writing for television at this year's Baftas. He cut his teeth on mainstream programme s such as Children's Ward, but Davies, 43, burst on to the television scene in 1999 when his gay drama Queer as Folk got the nation in a collective hot flush. He hasn't slowed since: the award-winning Bob and Rose was next, then Linda Green. The Second Coming upset Christians and introduced Davies fans to a future Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston), while a super-camp Casanova ruffled the odd period feather and introduced Davies fans to another future Doctor, David Tennant. MN

17 (new)

Sebastian Scott, CEO and Co-Founder Of Princess Productions

The man with the golden touch, Scott made his name as a pin-up foreign correspondent for LWT's Eyewitness before breaking into production with late-night music show The Word. Since co-founding Princess Productions almost a decade ago, Scott has launched Princess Talent Management in 2000 and has had hit shows in the UK with The Friday Night Project and The Wright Stuff and in the USA with Date My Mom, Parental Control (MTV) and The Restaurant (NBC). Scott, 43, lives in London with his partner Peter Mikic, a fashion designer.

16 (down 15)

Alan Hollinghurst, Author

This spring's TV adaptation, by Andrew Davies, of the 51-year-old's The Line of Beauty has brought his writing to a new, broader audience. The book had won the 2004 Booker Prize, an award that was seen as endorsement of his quartet of gay novels which began with The Swimming Pool Library in 1988. A former editor at the Times Literary Supplement, he has described himself as one of the first novelists "to write about gay life from a gay perspective unapologetically and naturally". PS

15 (new)

Charles Allen, Chief Executive of ITV

Millionaire ITV chief Allen, 49, started out as an accountant for contract caterer Compass before joining Granada in 1991 where he was famously savaged by John Cleese as an "upstart caterer". Fifteen years on, the tenacious Scot is facing one of his biggest challenges in reversing the declining fortunes of ITV. SH

14 (new)

Dawn Airey, Managing Director, Sky Networks

The self-proclaimed queen of the "football, films and fucking" school of scheduling, she has a huge portfolio of satellite channels at her fingertips including Sky One, Sky Movies and Sky Travel. At 45, Airey is reputedly one of the top earners in TV and a non-executive director of easyJet. SH

13 (up 14)

Howell James, Permanent Secretary

A communications genius who has held senior posts in the Civil Service and at the BBC and TV-AM, James, 52, replaced Sarah Hogg as John Major's political secretary in 1994. After the Tory defeat in 1997, he set up his own PR agency but returned to Whitehall in 2004 as permanent secretary in charge of government communications, based in the Cabinet Office. With Vanessa Branson, sister of Richard, he owns Riad El Fenn, an ultrachic townhouse hotel in Marrakech. PS

12 (up 18)

Nicholas Hytner, Artistic Director, National Theatre

He nailed his colours to the mast making The Object of My Affection, a profitable Hollywood romance about gay friendship and parenting. Since joining the National, Hytner, 50, has continually made critical and influential statements about British arts policies. DB

11 (up 13)

Peter Ackroyd, Biographer, Novelist & Psychogeographer

The biographer of William Blake, London, St Thomas More and T S Eliot, and author of a host of brilliant novels continues to astonish with his prolificness and erudition. His biography of Shakespeare came out last autumn to admiring reviews. Earlier this year he presented a clever and playful TV series, The Romantic Poets, and his short biography of Sir Isaac Newton came out in April. He is working on a biography of Venice. PS

10 (up 11)

Alexander McQueen, Fashion Designer

Born in 1969, the son of an East End taxi driver, McQueen toiled on Savile Row before being invited to enrol on the fashion MA course at Central Saint Martins. He was soon wowing press with his angular tailoring and dramatic shows, and in 1996 was drafted across to Paris to design Givenchy. Today, McQueen's Gucci Group-backed own label is one of the hottest in Paris.SR

09 (down 06)

Matt Lucas, Comedian

Comedy actor Lucas, 32, can never have expected the sketch show Little Britain, created with David Walliams, to turn into the monster it has, with the nation parroting catchphrases such as "I'm the only gay in the village."Lucas is now a big hitter, rumoured to be playing Hitchcock in a biopic. Initially reluctant to discuss being gay, he is now more relaxed on the subject. SG

08 (up 17)

Alan Bennett, Playwright & Author

Twenty-three years after America first gave him a Tony award for Beyond The Fringe, Bennett, 72, returned to New York in triumph this year to collect six more for his play, The History Boys. His theatrical work, television dramas, occasional films and even more occasional forays into acting have made Bennett a national treasure. His latest autobiography, Untold Stories, is a best-seller. PS

07 (=07)

John Galliano, Fashion Designer & Couturier

Famed for his outlandish shows both for Christian Dior and his own label, Galliano, at 46 he is a virtuoso whose complex bias-cut creations set the standard for red- carpet glamour. Since 2004, he has reinterpreted his flamboyant style for men. SR

06 (down 05)

Sir Michael Bishop, Chairman, BMI

Since 1964, Sir Michael, 64, has helped turn bmi into a major player in the short-haul airline business and earlier this year increased his stake in the carrier to 50 per cent plus one share. Annual pre-tax profits, meanwhile, came in at £10m, a massive hike on the previous year's £2.6m. Sir Michael was also chairman of Channel 4 from 1993 to 1997. ATownsend

05 (down 03)

Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner

As Gordon Brown fingers the keys to No 10, Mandelson, 52, the third part of the trio that founded New Labour, is finished in domestic politics - because Brown can't abide him. But as the EU's Trade Commissioner, one of the most powerful briefs in the Brussels bureaucracy, Mandelson has become a global player in disputes at the World Trade Organisation, fighting his corner in the "bra wars" over EU-imposed sanctions on Chinese textiles, and backing the G8's push to lower tariffs on African exports. He continues to wield some influence behind the scenes in Downing Street. Mandelson's private life with his Brazilian partner, Reinaldo da Silva, now a British citizen, has regularly featured in the gossip columns. PS

04 (=04)

Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Impresario

The most powerful theatrical producer alive, Mackintosh, 59, has produced, branded and sold mega-musicals worldwide including Cats, Les Misérables and Mary Poppins. Mackintosh also uses his £400m fortune to renovate his ever-increasing portfolio of London theatres. Mackintosh has just transferred the hit Broadway musical Avenue Q to the newly-named (formerly the Albery) and refurbished Noël Coward Theatre. DB

03 (new)

Gary Frisch and Henry Badenhorst, Founders and owners of

Gaydar is the world's biggest online dating site and an extraordinary cultural force. Founded in 1999 by South Africans Frisch, 37, and Badenhorst, 39, the site has nearly 4 million subscribers globally. Boy George is on there as are many other famous (but anonymous) faces (and bodies). It's where Mark Oaten met his sticky end, and fellow MP Chris Bryant was revealed in his underpants looking for love. As well as owning Gaydar, the couple have a popular radio station and travel network. The pair are ploughing their considerable profits into clever deals. Current sponsors of Australia's Mardi Gras, they're also bringing Sir Elton John, Sir Ian McKellen and other gay A-listers together to perform in London tonight at the finale of this year's EuroPride. DBarr

02 (down 01)

Sir Elton John, Musician

A big draw at tonight's EuroPride: The Show, which takes place at the Royal Albert Hall, Elton John is the ultimate A-Gay. As one of the biggest-selling solo artists of all time, with 25 platinum albums and over 250 million sales, Elton has supersized himself from stadium-filling rock idol to spokesperson for gay rights. He was also the first famous gay man to tie the knot. His charity The Elton John Aids Foundation, which he runs with his partner David Furnish, has become one of the most celebrated organisations of its type, while his profile as host of a huge post-Oscars party (in aid of the Foundation) is as high as ever. SG

01 (up 02)

Sir Ian McKellen, Actor

Classical actor turned Hollywood big hitter Sir Ian (or Serena, as he is affectionately known) splits his time between starring in Hollywood blockbusters such as The Da Vinci Code and campaigning for gay rights. Knighted in 1990, McKellen has used his position and his connections with pressure group Stonewall to push for equality. He also uses his status as a Hollywood insider to advise young gay actors to come out, so far without much success. Having reprised his triumphant role as pantomime dame Widow Twanky in the Old Vic's Aladdin (see Sean Mathias), he is also leading the all-star line-up at tonight's EuroPride: The Show in London. There can be few actors who manage to produce work of such extraordinary variety and quality while connecting with so many different people. He is our number one. SG

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments