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Pride 2023

The Independent Pride List 2023: The LGBT+ people making change happen

After a seven-year hiatus, The Independent is relaunching its list of LGBT+ change-makers. Previously the Pink List, and latterly the Rainbow List, now for 2023 we present The Pride List

Monday 05 June 2023 11:32 BST

The UK champions its LGBT+ communities and is continually learning and striving to do better, while London’s Pride celebrations provide a beacon of representation beyond its boundaries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still space to do more when it comes to inclusion, visibility and change.

While much progress in equality can be marked over the decades, the past year has seen what feels like a tirade of attacks on the LGBT+ community. From the government’s continually stalled progress on a conversion therapy ban and the men’s Fifa World Cup hosted in Qatar, a country with staunch anti-LGBT+ laws (which also saw the ban of OneLove armbands), to a terrifying rising level of anti-LGBT+ violence across the UK and, most recently, the fresh threat against LGBT+ lives after Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni approved barbaric anti-gay laws.

These actions all take their physical and mental toll, and charity Stonewall says that half of those who identify as LGBT+ have previously experienced depression. Adding to that, a third of LGBT+ Britons feel isolated due to not hearing stories about anyone like them, according to new research from StoryTerrace, the nation’s leading biographer.

The events and revelations of the past 12 months underscore why Pride is still critically important for recognition in Britain, making now a pivotal time to fully support the LGBT+ community. That’s why, to mark its partnership with Pride in London 2023, The Independent is relaunching its Pride List of 50 LGBT+ change-makers to celebrate their contribution to modern life.

It was first instigated in 2000 under the editorship of Janet Street-Porter, at a time when the repeal of Section 28 was under threat and long before the introduction of civil partnerships, never mind equal marriage. It began as the Pink List before becoming the Rainbow List in 2014 and ended with the Independent on Sunday’s print closure in 2016.

Previous annual lists have included the likes of Sir Elton John, Nicola Adams, Sue Perkins and Gok Wan. Their omission from this year’s is not to say they’re no longer valued in this space, much to the contrary. This year’s list has been created to specifically champion the achievements individuals have made in the past 12 months, only made possible by the icons who paved the way.

Those included in the list were decided by a panel made up of staff at The Independent. Those who made the cut were deemed to be important trailblazers who were visible ambassadors in the community over the past 12 months.

Reflecting The Independent’s philosophy of making change happen, the Pride List is not just a roll-call of big names but honours the influence of those making a difference to LGBT+ lives in Britain and beyond. Publishing the list today marks the start of Pride Month, which culminates in the annual Pride in London march on Saturday 1 July.

England's Beth Mead, part of the England team which triumphed at the Women's Euros (Martin Rickett/PA)

As part of the Lionesses’ triumphant win at the Euros, Beth Mead’s profile has skyrocketed in the past year. The team made history as their win was the first time since 1966 that an England football team had won a major international competition.

Mead’s phenomenal six goals helped get them there, and earned her the coveted Golden Boot award for scoring the tournament’s most goals. It made fans and pundits everywhere sit up and notice women’s football.

Her performance won her the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2022, making her the first women’s footballer to win it, and only the sixth footballer, as well as being awarded an MBE.

Mead is in a relationship with Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema, and also spoke out last year about how disappointed she was that the men’s Fifa World Cup was hosted in Qatar, where homosexuality can result in the death penalty. She said the country has the “complete opposite” values to her.

Joe Lycett uses his comedic stance to tackle politics in an accessible way (Joe Lycett)

In November 2022, comedian Joe Lycett famously threatened to shred £10,000 of his own money unless gay icon David Beckham pulled out of his reportedly £10m deal with Qatar as an ambassador for the country during the World Cup, where homosexuality is illegal. The ex-footballer didn’t respond, so on the same day the World Cup started, Lycett live-streamed himself destroying the cash. Or so it looked. Afterwards, the comedian confirmed the notes were fake and instead he’d already donated the equivalent of his own money to LGBT+ charities.

Lycett is a perpetual conversation-starter and often does so through stunts on social media. He uses his humour and comedic stance to tackle politics in an accessible way, and highlights the mess of modern cultural discourse.

Upon learning of his inclusion in the list, Lycett said: “I am now straight, please leave me alone.”

Jordan Gray won the Comedy Breakthrough Star Award this year (Dylan Woodley)

Listed as one of The Independent’s Top 50 Most Influential Women of 2023 in its inaugural list, Jordan Gray’s career trajectory skyrocketed when in 2022 she performed on Channel 4’s Friday Night Live, which culminated in her stripping naked on live TV. It was a powerful celebration of trans bodies and writing for The Independent afterwards, she thought it would be “nice for trans people around the country to see their body represented onscreen… animated with pure electric joy, instead of lying flat on a mortician’s slab”. The show received more than 1,500 complaints to Ofcom, which were later dismissed.

She went on to win the Comedy Breakthrough Star Award at The National Comedy Awards 2023 and made history by being the first trans person to have their own solo show at the London Palladium, resulting in her breakout Edinburgh show Is It A Bird? moving to the landmark venue. Along with hosting her Transplaning podcast, she’s now working on her own sitcom that airs this year, Transaction, about a trans supermarket worker, which she stars in alongside Nick Frost.

Edward Enninful, who has championed diversity in the fashion industry (Stuart C Wilson/Getty)

Under his leadership as editor-in-chief, British Vogue has become an important platform for representation across the spectrum, including LGBT+, disability and race. In a year where catwalks were dominated by thin models and Hollywood by increasingly thin stars (amid the controversy over Ozempic), he has been one of the few major fashion figures to speak out, hitting back with covers featuring plus-sized models. Most recently he published British Vogue’s first disability issue in April, featuring cover stars including model Ellie Goldstein, who has Down’s syndrome, and actor Selma Blair, who has multiple sclerosis, which Enniful said was one of his proudest moments.

He is one of the most influential media figures in the UK, overseeing covers with stars including Rihanna, Adele and Beyonce. On top of this, in recent months he has released a memoir, A Visible Man (which is shortlisted for the British Book Awards), appeared on the cover of Time magazine, and served as a global ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.

On Friday he stepped down as Editor of British Vogue to take up a new position as editorial advisor at the title and global creator and cultural advisor to Vogue.

King Charles III and Camilla with the presenters of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool (WPA)

Rising to fame through X-Factor in 2012, he’s now mononymously known as Rylan, which is a status few British celebrities can claim. His real name is Ross Clark, and after a rather joke-like entry into the celebrity kingdom, he’s now one of the nation’s sweethearts, not only for his infectious emotion and energy, but for his ability to make audiences feel like he’s one of us.

Now with a Radio 2 presenting slot, Rylan recently co-hosted the Eurovision semi-finals with fellow Radio 2 presenter Scott Mills in Liverpool. It’s the first time the UK has hosted the music event since 1998. Rylan’s involvement has undoubtedly helped turn the music event’s tired and archaic perception around with his charm, honesty and humour. Instead, he’s successfully encouraged people to take it seriously.

Oscar winning singer Sam Smith (Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty)

Oscar and Grammy-winning singer Sam Smith, who announced in 2019 they were non-binary, is the modern epitome of non-confirming queerness.

In January they released their latest album Gloria, which is rooted in celebrating queer identity and experience and is named after what Smith calls the possibly feminine energy that’s been freed from inside of them. The album is Smith’s coming of age, through which they’ve finally reclaimed their own body, and their confidence seems to know no boundaries.

With songs such as “I’m Not Here To Make Friends”, they’re continually making statements that are more cheeky than anything but become steeped in controversy. Critics call the music video “vulgar”, while defenders say the response is queerphobic and would be differently received if it was a woman in the same video.

Trans model Munroe Bergdorf (Getty)

A trans model and activist, Munroe Bergdorf was one of the first trans people to be so visible. In 2017 she made history and became the first trans face of L’Oréal. Controversy soon struck after a row over comments she made about white supremacy, which meant she was dropped and saw the beginnings of a barrage of abuse on social media. Bergdorf was later rehired by L’Oréal in 2020 as part of a diversity and inclusion advisory board.

Fast forward to 2023, and her debut book, Transitional: In One Way or Another, We All Transition, was published in February. It’s part moving memoir and part powerful manifesto, using her own experience to show transitioning is deeply rooted in human experience. Chapters cover important LGBT+ topics including adolescence, sex, gender, love, race and purpose, which focuses on her lack of role models growing up. It also looks at the deep prejudice Bergdorf has experienced while navigating controversy.

Jill Scott was part of the Lionesses’ winning Euros team (ITV)

The former professional footballer was part of the Lionesses’ winning Euros team in 2022, she represented England in the Olympics multiple times and played for England since 2006. Throughout her career and Euros win, she was integral in helping to put women’s football where it should be, inspiring more women to get involved in the sport and shedding the stigma that the women’s game is inferior.

In November 2022, Jill swapped her football boots for the jungle in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and went on to be crowned Queen of the Jungle. She now has her own popular podcast, Jill Scott’s Coffee Club, interviewing fellow women footballers, where she dives into an intimate look at their lives on and off the pitch. Scott has been engaged to long-term partner Shelly Unitt since March 2020.

Lady Phyll, who is celebrated for her work on race, gender and LGBT+ rights (Sarah Jeynes)

The British political activist, who is also known as Lady Phyll, is celebrated for her work on race, gender and LGBT+ rights and is a prominent lesbian activist. She co-founded the UK Black Pride movement in 2005 where she’s currently its executive director.

The annual UK Black Pride event emerged in response to a lack of diversity within the larger Pride celebrations, which was met with adversity ahead of its beginnings from critics who said it wouldn’t work. Opoku-Gyimah has been outspoken in her criticism of Pride, stating it has “a long way to go”. Continuing her work in supporting rights, Opoku-Gyimah is also the executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, which campaigns for LGBT+ rights around the world.

Paul O’Grady as Lily Savage (PA)

It wasn’t until Paul O’Grady’s unexpected death aged just 67 earlier this year that he was so rightly recognised for his huge contribution to bringing queer culture to the homes of middle England. With his alter-ego, Lily Savage, he cemented drag on Saturday night primetime TV slots and helped pave the way for fellow drag artists and the LGBT+ community. With his loveable charm, big heart and quick-witted humour, he was often deemed courageous and fearless for speaking out about issues affecting the LGBT+ community, especially Aids and HIV during the Eighties.

During a show at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, police raided it wearing rubber gloves, ignorantly thinking Aids was transmitted that way, to which Lily retorted: “Well, well, well, it looks like we’ve got help with the washing up.” It was an attitude that made both Paul and Lily icons throughout O’Grady’s long career.

Emma D’Arcy was listed on the RadioTimes list of the top 100 most influential people in TV (Getty)

Non-binary actor Emma D’Arcy made a name for themselves in one of 2022’s biggest series, HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoff, House of the Dragon, playing Rhaenyra. For their performance, D’Arcy received critical acclaim in the form of a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.

Last year and this year have seen D’Arcy included in numerous lists, stating them as a rising star in the world of acting. In 2022, D’Arcy was ranked as the number one breakout star of the year on IMDB’s list of top breakout stars, which has been followed up this year with The Huffington Post including them on its list of rising stars, and in April they were listed fifth on the RadioTimes list of the top 100 most influential people in TV.

Olympic diver Tom Daley (Supplied)

Olympic gold medalist diver Tom Daley came out in 2013, aged just 19, in a video on his YouTube channel and is Britain’s most celebrated diver. Last July, on the eve of the Commonwealth Games, he condemned homophobia in Commonwealth nations. His statement was part of his documentary, Tom Daley: Illegal To Be Me, about gay rights in Commonwealth countries.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in 35 of the 56 nations that make up the Commonwealth, where punishments include whipping and the death penalty. Daley visited the countries ahead of the event to investigate their LGBT+ rights and to experience what it’s like to live as a gay athlete there. It changed his previous opinion of banning homophobic countries from hosting big sporting events and instead he’s campaigning for LGBT+ inclusiveness by asking host countries to have a pro-LGBT+ ethos in a bid to change their discriminatory attitudes and laws.

(Getty Images for Acne Studios)

In true Gen Z form, Yasmin Finney first gained a following on TikTok where she shared her life as a teenage Black trans woman in Britain. Her first acting role was in the British LGBT+ romantic TV drama Heartstoppers, where she plays a trans character Ellie Argent. Even more impressively, she was nominated for her debut performance by the Children’s and Family Emmy Awards for the Outstanding Supporting Performance award. Finney’s already set to join the 60th anniversary celebration episodes of Doctor Who, which are due to air in November.

Away from the screen, in December Finney appeared on the cover of British Vogue, which was shortly followed by covers for Elle UK and Teen Vogue this year, and she’s given out gongs at the Fashion Awards.


Comedian and Emmy award-winning actor Suzy Eddie Izzard is one of the most visible trans celebrities in the UK and has long been a powerful voice for representation. Since March she has been known as Suzy Eddie Izzard, and began using she/her pronouns in 2020, in a move she said she’s spent the past 35 years building up to.

Izzard spoke about choosing the name, saying she’d wanted it since age 10 and knew she was trans from a young age. The comedian also added in her announcement that people can also call her Eddie, so they can’t go wrong. She has been a calm and lucid presence, and a beacon of hope for others, in a year of moral panic and attacks on trans rights.

(Blackpool FC)

Unlike women’s football, the men’s game remains a closed-off space when it comes to sexuality. So when Blackpool professional footballer Jake Daniels announced he was gay in May 2022, aged just 17, he was the first British openly gay male professional footballer since 1990. Considering it’s the biggest sport in the world with an estimated five billion fans, it was huge for the LGBT+ community.

Daniels was praised by England football captain Harry Kane, manager Gareth Southgate and fans alike, and cited Tom Daley and Thetford Town manager Mat Morton in helping him come out. The following month he was shortlisted at the National Diversity Awards for the Celebrity of the Year category for coming out.

16. Abbey Kiwanuka

Abbey Kiwanuka is a Ugandan activist and former refugee who also appeared in The Independent’s 2015 Rainbow List. He was outlawed, imprisoned and beaten for his sexuality in his home country in Uganda, where being gay could lead to life in jail or being beaten to death, as some of Kiwanuka’s friends were.

After escaping persecution in Uganda and coming to the UK, he founded Out and Proud African, an LGBT+ charity. Through it, he has helped hundreds of people avoid the same fate as he and his friends. In 2010 he contributed to the British Supreme Court ruling that gay and lesbian asylum seekers should not be expected to “exercise discretion” in their home countries to avoid persecution. Last year Kiwanuka won The Outstanding Contribution to LGBT+ Life award at the British LGBT Awards, which he shared with trans author and activist Juno Dawson.


Bella Ramsey won our hearts first playing the character of Lyanna Mormont in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and served up another excellent performance opposite Pedro Pascal in the dystopian drama series The Last of Us, receiving critical raves across the board. This year she was nominated at the MTV Movie & TV Awards for Breakthrough Performance and Best Duo with Pedro Pascal, both for The Last of Us, which the pair won.

They identify as non-binary but are relaxed about pronouns and have often encouraged open conversation when it comes to talking about sexuality and gender fluidity. In April 2023, she was announced as the new lead in the BBC’s critically adored drama Time.

Connor (left) and Locke (Gareth Cattermole/Getty)

18. Joe Locke and Kit Connor

The two stars of British LGBT+ romantic drama series Heartstopper have within a single series become the patron saints of saccharine gay tweens. The romantic comedy has been adapted from the webcomic and graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman and follows the lives of Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) who sit next to each other in form time.

In October 2022, Connor came out as bisexual in a Twitter post and Locke has previously talked about the parallels between his experience growing up as gay on the Isle of Man and his character, Charlie.

At just 19 years old, the pair dominated queer conversation last year via the coming-of-age narrative, where their portrayals of the LGBT+ community received critical acclaim. The series as a whole received nine nominations and five wins at the inaugural Children’s and Family Emmy Awards, including Connor’s win ​​for Outstanding Lead Performance. Season two is released on Netflix in August 2023.

Paul Brand is UK editor of ITV News and since March 2022 has been the presenter of current affairs programme Tonight. He has extensively covered the government’s continued failures to ban conversion therapy, which had first been promised in 2018. Last year he broke the news Boris Johnson would no longer continue with the ban after receiving leaked documents. In 2018, he also convinced then prime minister Theresa May to apologise for how she had previously voted on gay rights.

Brand was also integral in Boris Johnson’s resignation where he played a change-making role in the Partygate coverage.

As well as his work on conversion therapy, Brand also supports LGBT+ rights. He is a patron of the Just Like Us charity, where he co-founded Schools Diversity Week, which encourages schools around the UK to better educate on LGBT+ issues. Brand is married to civil servant Joe Cuddeford.

(APTOPIX 2022 MET Museum Costume Institute Benefit Gala)

Cynthia Erivo is one of the most visible queer British Black women at the moment. A real powerhouse of talent, Erivo is not only an actor but also a singer and songwriter. She’s currently filming the Wicked movie where she plays protagonist Elphaba Thropp. In the 2019 film Harriet, she starred as abolitionist Harriet Tubman and wrote the film’s immensely compelling song “Stand Up”, for which she won numerous awards for both her acting role and song. She also starred in The Colour Purple theatre production, which went to Broadway and for which she won a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress.

Most recently, Erivo performed at the BBC Proms in July 2022 and appeared in the film Luther: The Fallen Sun playing Odette Raine.


Identifying as pansexual, musician and actor Rina Sawayama uses her platform to promote acceptance and pride in the LGBT+ community.

Her music has been described as changing the future of pop, and she’s already recorded a powerfully emotive version of her song “Chosen Family” with Elton John, who got in touch with her after falling in love with her music.

Her latest album, Hold That Girl, was released in September and features “This Hell”, a celebration of community and love, which Sawayama says was written in response to a hellish time. With a country music twang, it has odes to gay icons referencing Shania Twain’s “Let’s go girls” and similar riffs to Abba’s “Gimme, gimme, gimme” along with lyrics about Britney Spears, Princess Diana and Whitney Houston.


Bafta-winning actor and queer icon Miriam Margolyes is unafraid to voice her inner monologue, which is more often than not done on the Graham Norton Show‘s sofa or on Radio 4’s Today programme. She has an unnerving sense of danger and naughtiness running through her veins, with a heavy dose of controversy and the enjoyment of shocking her audiences. She’s greatly revered for her eloquent and intelligent opinions about politics and sexuality along with her openness to share juicy anecdotes from her own life and career.

Her forthcoming book, OH MIRIAM!, inspired by the phrase she’s heard for most of her life (usually screeched in a disapproving tone) is published in September. She’s been with partner Heather Sutherland since 1967 and often attributes their long relationship to not living together.

Margolyes has in the past year sparked controversy by defending JK Rowling’s views on the trans community, describing anger directed at the author as “misplaced”.

(Jessica Kellgren-Fozard)

After making her YouTube debut back in 2011, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard has nearly 1 million subscribers on her channel. She covers topics including the LGBT+ community and its history, and navigating her chronic disabilities, often with cameos from her wife Claudia and their son Rupert.

Kellgren-Fozard’s overall aim is to be a positive and happy influence on the internet, and to help young, gay and disabled teens not to feel alone. It’s something she wishes she had as a young person, at a time when she didn’t think it would be possible in her future to marry and have children as a lesbian.


Journalist and writer Shon Faye is incredibly smart at distilling the problems with modern capitalism into informative, easy-to-understand writing, and is a great and funny advocate for trans liberation in the UK.

In 2021, she wrote her first book, The Transgernder Issue: An Argument for Justice, where she advocates that liberation for trans people would improve everyone’s lives. Using her own experience of first living as a gay man until 27, she gives a stark account of what life is really like for trans people. Her narrative is also careful not to portray the lives of trans people as tragic and instead highlights the similarities experienced by other minority groups.

Along with her book, over the past few years she has become a defining voice on trans issues, while also covering sexuality, mental health and feminism. She also has an agony aunt “Dear Shon” column for BritishVogue.

(Getty Images for Pride In London)

After winning double Olympic gold medals in the 800m and 1,500m track races at the Athens 2004 games, Dame Kelly Holmes instantly became a household name. She pushed boundaries for women in athletics, as well as women of colour in the sport too.

In June last year, Holmes came out as gay, which she said made her feel finally free. Although she’d known her sexuality since 1998, at the time she was in the army (where it was illegal to be gay until 2000) and she worried there could still be consequences from the army that could cause problems for her athletics career. Holmes spoke openly about her coming out in her documentary last year, Kelly Holmes: Being Me.


Adele Roberts is bisexual and campaigns for LGBT+ rights, and is best known for her Radio 1 slot. She became the first Black woman to present Radio 1’s Breakfast show, filling in for Greg James.

In 2021, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and has since worked hard to raise awareness of the disease and what it’s like living with a stoma bag. Her outlook towards living with such an aggressive cancer has been beyond commendable. She ran the London Marathon in April and broke the record for the fastest person to finish the race with a stoma bag. In June last year, she was named as role model of the year at the British LGBT+ Awards in recognition of her openness about her cancer condition and subsequent treatment.


The first UK series of US cult TV show Ru Paul’s Drag Race was won by The Vivienne in 2019, whose real name is James Lee Williams. Since then The Vivienne brought drag further into mainstream TV by appearing on ITV’s Dancing on Ice in March, where she reached the final.

Ahead of the final, in an interview with The Mirror, she said if she was to win it would be “a great beacon of representation”, adding that drag “is something that should be enjoyed not feared because there are far more important matters in the world going on than drag”.

28.Oliver Hermanus

Describing himself as a queer artist, South African-born Oliver Hermanus is a film director and writer, best known for directing Moffie in 2019. The film’s title is an Afrikaans’ anti-gay slur and is based on an autobiographical novel by South African writer André Carl van der Merwe’s time serving in the South African army during Apartheid. The gritty film depicts the men’s secret in a non-progressive environment.

Past accolades include his film Beauty making Cannes history in 2011 as the first Afrikaans film to screen at the festival, which also won the Queer Palm Award at the event.

The 39-year-old most recently directed the compellingly beautiful film Living in 2022, where Bill Nighy gave a “standout” performance, according to The Independent‘s film critic Clarisse Loughrey, and was nominated for an Oscar. This year will see the release of the director’s historical British TV drama, Mary & George, based on Benjamin Woolley’s 2017 non-fiction book The King’s Assassin.


Through founding the Instagram account Hunsnet – which is dedicated to hun culture meme – Gareth Howells brought gay humour into the mainstream in a harmless and joyful way. Using viral references from the Nineties, Noughties and today’s Britain that speak to its audience, the account now has more than 228,000 followers. He attributes its success in part to reality TV for continually giving him content, but also his time spent working as a Pontin’s Bluecoat and growing up as gay in the Noughties.

Over the five years since its creation, it’s quickly grown an inclusive community space across the internet for what Gareth says is for “everyone who dares to identify as a Hun”. Speaking to The Independent in 2022, Howells said: “If lads have lad culture, women and the LGBT+ community can have access to hun culture.”

From the success of the social media accounts, Howells’ creation has even reached the realm of hun merchandise, a podcast interviewing hun celebrities such as Rylan, and a book – The Hundamental Guide to Life: Learn to Live, Love & Laugh Like a True Hun.


As the winner of The Independent‘s Pink List in 2007, screenwriter Russell T Davies is best known for his revival of Doctor Who in 2005, writing the Queer as Folk series in 1999 about three gay men in Manchester and, more recently, It’s A Sin in 2021, his semi-autobiographical show about the HIV/Aids crisis of the Eighties and Nineties, which had rave reviews.

In his personal life, after being together for 13 years, Davies cemented his relationship with Andrew Smith with a civil partnership following Smith’s cancer diagnosis. Smith tragically died in 2018, and the Years and Years show, which aired in 2019, was dedicated to Smith.

This year sees his second return to screenwriting three special episodes of Doctor Who for its 60th anniversary, which are due to air in November.

(Justin Sutcliffe)

As one of the most influential and recognisable artists of the 20th century, David Hockney’s Pop Art work has often explored sexuality in the form of domestic situations such as pools or showers. These include “Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool” (1966) portraying the back of a naked man lifting himself out of a pool, and “Man in Shower in Beverly Hills” (1964). Hockney came out as gay in 1960, aged just 23. At the time, it was still illegal to be homosexual in the UK until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 law decriminalised it seven years later.

His immersive exhibition, Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away), opened in London’s Kings Cross in February. The projection installation takes people on a journey through his seven-decade-long career, to see it through Hockney’s eyes.


It’s often rare to have gay actors playing gay roles, which is what makes Heather Peace’s part playing Even Unwin in EastEnders – and Stacey Slater’s wife – all the better. It’s a part she’s played since 2021 but isn’t the only gay role she’s had. In 2010 she earned a cult-like following after her role as a lesbian police officer in the BBC drama Lip Service. The same year she featured at number 40 on the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List, and number 10 in 2011.

Peace came out as gay to her mother aged just 19. She entered a civil partnership with Eleanor Dickinson in 2013, which they converted to a marriage in December 2014. The actor is also involved in various LGBT+ charities, including her role as patron of Manchester Pride, Diversity Role Models and The Albert Kennedy Trust.

33. Dr Will Nutland

Sexual health expert Dr Will Nutland co-founded advocacy group PrEPster in 2015 with three others who are all either living with HIV, are PrEP (HIV prevention medicine) users or are in sero-discordant relationships (where one partner is HIV positive). It was formed in response to a lack of clear and concise information available about PrEP, and advocates for access to the drug, for gay and bi men, Black African communities, trans people, sex workers and migrants.

Nutland is also the co-founder and a director of The Love Tank, which builds on PreEPster’s work as a non-profit company that helps provide health services in communities that need it most.

In 2022, he was key in putting pressure on the government to have a better response to the monkeypox outbreak. Nutland spoke out about how the UK was in danger of infection rates at a time when the NHS would be unable to cope with more strain while still recovering from the pandemic.

34. Valentino Vecchietti

In 2021, Valentino Vecchietti, an intersex activist and journalist, created the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Flag. It was internationally welcomed as the new Pride flag after going viral online, culminating in Lewis Hamilton wearing Vecchietti’s flag on his helmet at the Qatar Grand Prix.

The inclusive flag shows real allyship and inclusion. Building on the original Pride rainbow stripes, along with the addition of brown and black stripes to represent people of colour, Vecchietti added yellow and purple, which are seen as being free from gender associations and were historically used to represent intersex people, while the circle represents wholeness. In 2022, Vecchietti’s flag design was chosen to adorn London’s Regent Street to celebrate 50 years of Pride in the UK, seeing 100 of the flags hung above the famous shopping street.

Valentino works extensively in culture to create intersex inclusion, visibility and representation, and founded the Intersex Equality Rights UK foundation.

35. Nicholas Cullinan

Art historian and curator Nicholas Cullinan has been the director of London’s National Portrait Gallery since 2015. The following year, he marked 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality by creating a show “Speak its Name that aimed to highlight the progress made for gay rights. It featured portraits of singer Will Young, diver Tom Daley, the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, journalist Isabella Blow, as well as actor Ben Whishaw, which all featured a few lines from each person about their experiences of revealing their sexuality.

After the gallery’s biggest restoration in its history, which has taken three years, it will reopen again on 23 June this year. Its main attraction includes never before seen photos of Sir Paul McCartney from the early days of The Beatles and their first big worldwide tour. Cullinan said these photos offer important cultural insight. It will also see the return of the David Hockney exhibition “Drawing from Life”, which was cut short by the pandemic.


Broadcast journalist and author Clare Balding has long been synonymous with sport, from her horse racing days growing up, and becoming an amateur flat jockey to her pundit work across seven Olympic Games along with her awards for her sports presenting and journalism. She’s broken down barriers when it comes to gender in sport commentating and representation, including being the face of horse racing commentating, presenting the America’s Cup, and her presidency of the Rugby Football League until December 2022.

Balding publicly came out in 2003 and entered a civil partnership with radio presenter partner Alice Arnold in 2006, and converted it to a marriage in 2015. This year will see her take over from the venerable Sue Barker’s 30-year reign to present the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage. Balding had been favoured for the role after Barker announced presenting 2022’s event would be her last.

(Getty Images for AMEX)

Lovable comedian and presenter Alan Carr has been on our screens for more than 20 years, with his distinctive voice, infectious laugh and comedic quips. His overtly camp style has been pivotal in making queerness more mainstream in comedy and on TV.

Since 2021, he’s been working on an upcoming TV series, Changing Ends, that’s semi-autobiographical and airs on ITVX this month. The sitcom is based on his own life growing up in Northampton in the Eighties where his father, Gary Carr, became manager of Northampton Town FC. It depicts the difficulties a young Alan had facing blatant homophobia from friends’ parents, neighbours and school bullies, while also starting his life in a very masculine world of football.


Bruce Mouat skippered the Olympic silver medal-winning curling team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which were his first Games. He was the first openly gay man to win a Winter Olympics medal (outside of figure skating) in almost a century. Although he came out in 2014 to his teammates, he didn’t do so publicly until a few years later. It’s this coming out to which he credits his medal-winning success, as he said he was able to go into the Olympics as his true self and focus only on the game.

He told the BBC: “Being gay didn’t matter in terms of sport, it’s not going to affect how I play, but before I had come out it was affecting how I played.”

Although he’s only 28, he’s competed in curling for Scotland for a decade, and in October 2021 Mouat was the first British curler to represent the country in both the mixed doubles and men’s team disciplines.

Rose and Rosie holding up their baby scan

Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton started their own YouTube channels in 2011 and, after dating the following year, ended up merging to create the “Rose and Rosie” channel, which has just under 1 million subscribers.

Their candid and warm approach, comedic edge and their self-proclaimed tendency to overshare make them super relatable. They’ve been widely praised for their openness and intimacy in discussing LGBT+ topics with sensitivity, including the journey to parenthood, parenting as a same-sex couple, miscarriage, coming out and their wedding day.

Often referred to as being the UK’s most successful same-sex couple of YouTube, they’ve won a number of awards for their content including the LGBT Celebrity Rising Star award at the British LGBT Awards in 2016.

(Roman Manfredi)

Poet and author, Joelle Taylor won the prestigious TS Eliot Prize for poetry in 2022 with her poetry book C+nto & Othered Poems about butch culture, which she is famed for with her sharp tweed suits and perfectly quaffed short hair. In a piece Taylor wrote for The Independent earlier this year for International Women’s Day, Joelle said: “In spite of my appearance, I have never identified as a man. I identify as freedom.”

Focusing on her experiences of butch lesbian counterculture in London during the Eighties and Nineties, much of the book looks at the demise of lesbian bars, of which there were many in the capital, and now there’s just one sole remainder. Taylor says it’s partly due to the loss of these safe spaces, which also marked a visible and physical part of lesbain culture, that she attributes the continuation of persecution of lesbians around the world.

Using the preface of the book, she writes that 72 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships, as well as 11 jurisdictions that support the death penalty for lesbians.


One of Britain’s most prolific actors, Ben Wishaw’s roles vary from equipment geek Q in the James Bond films, to voicing Paddington Bear and playing the gay doctor in the TV adaptation of Adam Kay’s hit book, This is Going to Hurt, which have won him Emmy, Globe and Bafta awards.

He’s talked openly about non-gay actors playing gay roles and not quite believing the performance as well as commenting on the revelation of his character Q’s sexuality in No Time To Die, where Q makes a passing comment about dating a man. It’s a historic moment as the first gay character within the entire James Bond franchise, although both Whishaw and audiences were disappointed it wasn’t taken further.

Wishaw didn’t feel he was able to come out as gay to his family until he was 26 or 27. But a few years later he entered a civil partnership in 2012 with Mark Bradshaw, an Australian composer who he met while playing John Keats in Bright Star.

This year, Wishaw is narrating the audiobook version of EM Forster’s groundbreaking 1913 novel Maurice, which was posthumously published in 1979.


In 2015, Mhairi Black was the youngest ever MP for 300 years to be elected, aged just 20, where she took a seat for Scotland’s Paisley and Renfrewshire – previously a Labour stronghold for 70 years.

She is one of 11 openly gay MPs in the SNP, where she has held the role as deputy leader in the House of Commons since December 2022.

Known for being down to earth and outspoken, which is epitomised when she was asked about her decision to come out as gay, she replied that she’d never been in. Black had supported same-sex marriages before the referendum, and more recently she is also an active supporter of reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.

43. Jeremy Joseph

Jeremy Joseph, owner of gay London nightclub G-A-Y and superclub Heaven, has sought to protect the future of his LGBT+ club spaces. His move comes as more than half of London’s LGBT+ venues have closed, which is likely to be even more post-pandemic. The venues are a much-needed safe space for the community and help provide visibility.

Joseph temporarily closed the clubs last summer to work out how to prolong the their lives. After reopening, he set up the G-A-Y Foundation, an LGBTQ+ group that will help fund various projects benefiting the queer community and ensure the clubs’ doors stay open.

44. Yulia and Tetiana

Same-sex couple Yulia and Tetiana fled Ukraine after its invasion from Russia a year ago but had always dreamed of getting married. The pair had been together for 10 years but same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised in Ukraine, and the only way for LGBT+ couples to marry is to do so abroad.

The pair got married on 1 March in Derbyshire in a small ceremony at Ripley Town Hall, wearing matching T-shirts, with slogans reading “love you to the moon and back”. The date marked the one-year anniversary since they fled the war. The couple wanted to rewrite their history by turning what would be a sad date into a positive one. Despite their now legal relationship not being recognised in their homeland, they still hope one day to be able to return to Ukraine, once the war is over.

45. Fat Tony

His Instagram accounts brought joy throughout the pandemic to hundreds of thousands with its relatable memes, but it’s his DJ career as one of club culture’s most notorious artists, Fat Tony (real name Tony Marnoch), that he’s really known for.

He lives with his partner, Stavros Agapiou, and has been going to Pride ever since he can remember, but says he never really had to come out to his family, as they just knew.

His tell-all memoir, I Don’t Take Request, was published in May 2022. Writing about his four-decade-long career includes exactly what you’d expect from one of the world’s best DJs – hedonism, celebrity friends, drug-fueled parties, addiction loss and extreme trauma. But away from the party scene, the book also describes how he was left in a coma for four months after his HIV went undiagnosed for 15 years.


British-born Jamaican butterfly swimmer Michael Gunning honoured his roots by swimming for Jamaica’s national team, where he broke plenty of records, but was the only openly gay athlete representing the country. Jamaica is one of the most LGBT+ hostile countries in the world, which can see prison sentences of up to 10 years. Despite facing racism and homophobia throughout his sporting career, Gunning still managed to use his sporting platform to raise awareness of the LGBT+ community around the world, which won him the Pride Award at the Attitude Pride Awards 2019.

He came out as gay while on the reality bisexual dating show, The Bi Life, in 2018. He also took part in BBC One’s Tom Daley: Illegal to be Me documentary in 2022, explaining what it was like coming out while swimming for Jamaica. Last year, Gunning retired from professional swimming, aged just 28, with a view to encouraging more Black people into swimming.

(Robyn Love/Instagram)

47. Robyn Love

Born with arthrogryposis, a rare condition where muscles are shortened, wheelchair basketball player Robyn Love is a double Paralympian, and captained the GB wheelchair basketball team. Along with her team, Lve won bronze at the European Championships twice and came fourth place at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Love recently announced her retirement from the professional sport last month.

She’s been engaged to her now former GB teammate Laurie Williams since 2022, with whom she shares a daughter, Alba. The duo are already a relatively rare pair, being an LGBT+ sporting couple, but there are even fewer couples who both have disabilities – making their visible relationship, achievements and parenthood even more important.


Last year, at Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary event, The Pet Shop Boys returned to the Other Stage for a career-defining set. The duo were joined by a cameo from singer Olly Alexander, although not during their performance of “It’s A Sin”, as the audience might have thought, considering Alexander starred in the 2021 TV show of the same name about Aids in Eighties London.

Frontman Neil Tennant only came out in 1994, and is a patron of the Elton John Aids Foundation, while keyboard player Chris Lowe keeps an even lower profile, especially when it comes to his personal life.

Recently Tennant has optimistically talked about how AI could actually be quite helpful in overcoming writer’s block in songwriting. The musicians have been back on TV screens in May this year with Reel Stories: The Pet Shop Boys, on BBC Two. The show’s format sees them sit down with Dermot O’Leary to rewatch now-seemingly cringeworthy performances (and haircuts and outfits) as well as relive some of their most ecstatic highlights of their 40-year career.

Although not part of the main royal family, Lord Ivar Mountbatten is the first cousin once removed to the late Prince Phillip and second cousin to King Charles. He made history by being the first member of the extended family to be openly gay. In 2018, he set the bar even higher after marrying partner James Coyle, which also made him the first to have a same-sex wedding.

This summer, it’s another first too, as he and Coyle are due to host a trailblazing event, Queer Spirit Festival, at their home, Birdwell Park in Devon. Taking over the 100-acre estate, it will welcome the LGBT+ community as well as families, and offer workshops, activism and drag shows in a proud display of their support.


Rebecca Lucy Taylor is better known by her stage name, Self Esteem, and has been openly bisexual since 2013. She uses her patriarchy-smashing lyrics and catchy pop tune melodies to call for women to be unapologetic about their own choices, and not to be led by societal pressures. She hates the idea that she could be seen as a failure as a woman if she dies without having a child.

Earlier this year she spoke out and criticised The Brits’ Artist of the Year category, which although gender neutral now, failed to include any women in its nominees. She also spoke out about the body shaming she receives online. Last month she played a set at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Dundee.

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