Pride is about more than just parades and parties. It’s about supporting a community of powerful people who blazed a trail for love and empowerment to be put above all else.
Some of the world’s most influential individuals are prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their visibility has helped countless people come to love and accept themselves. They have also helped educate how to treat people from all walks of life with respect.
This year, to mark Pride month we’ve gathered a list of individuals within the LGBTQ+ community that inspire us, and why:
Dominique ‘SonicFox’ McLean
Zoe Brown, Senior Producer: “The LeBron James of gaming who is also a black, gay furry. He’s a visible, powerful queer voice in the gaming community who can serve as a role model for the younger generation. He’s a four-time Evolution Championship Series winner and the highest-paid fight game player in the world. When accepting an award he gave a speech I go back and watch at least once every six months: “As you guys also may know — or may not know — I’m also super gay. I want to give a super shoutout to all my LGBTQ+ friends that have always helped me through life. Obviously I’m a furry, so shout out to the furries… Guess all I gotta really say is I’m gay, black, a furry — pretty much everything a Republican hates — and the best eSports player of the whole year I guess. Thank you so much!”’
Jennifer Davis, Office Manager: “For me, Olly Alexander from Years and Years is really inspiring. Not only is he a FANTASTIC artist, he’s also a huge advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He’s done several campaigns promoting LGBTQ+ rights. I watched his documentary ‘Growing up Gay’ where he investigated the link between being gay and developing mental health disorders. He goes into schools to talk to children in the documentary to make them more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. “At school, it was as if LGBT people didn’t exist. They definitely weren’t talked about by teachers. Just having somebody LGBT come into a classroom talking about their experiences – or simply introducing LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education – is an obvious way to help young kids who are struggling with their identity.”
I think the work he is doing here will help so many people! He’s recently also been the main character in ‘It’s a Sin’ (a TV show), which is about the AIDS crisis in the UK. This show lead to a record surge of people ordering free HIV tests.”
Elle Dudley, Senior UI Artist: “Rebecca is the creator of Steven Universe. They created an amazing cartoon about being comfortable as yourself, and also challenged Cartoon Network to get a gay wedding into the series. There are some fantastic quotes from the creators that I love. “I think as a young person, particularly a young queer person, your days are spent flailing, endlessly trying to figure out how you’re truly meant to look or act. When someone like that finally sees a character they can relate to, it can feel like having an island to cling to after being adrift at sea.“
The show’s empathetic warmth, love, acceptance, and depictions of characters and relationships almost never seen on television make the show a beacon for marginalised audience members. Rebecca is also quoted as saying: “I want marginalized kids to know that they deserve to express themselves. If they’re being shut down for what they like or wear or want or for not fitting into whatever box someone else is putting them in, it’s not their fault. I just hope that our show can be a little voice that says “People shouldn’t be treating you that way. It shouldn’t be a fantasy to be able to just talk about how you feel.”’
Annem Hobson, Communications Manager: I’m sure many people know him from Queer Eye: Tan France. Being openly gay in South Asian communities is still a huge taboo and there is SO MUCH WORK TO DO. Being a person of colour and gay can be fraught with racial targeting and homophobia so when Tan first graced our screens, I was so utterly thrilled!! He was and still is one of the only ‘out’ gay South Asian men on western television. The significance of this is huge to me, and I hope it supported the many gay British South Asians in my own community to feel comfortable in being their true selves.”
Duncan Walker, Lead Gameplay Programmer: “Seconded on Tan France, and the Queer Eye show/cast in general. Sure they have an army of helpers behind the scenes to empower them – but what they embody and represent in a divided nation like the US is such a powerful thing. Their show is just an unstoppable force of positivity too, as a latecomer to the show I find it so refreshing and helpful in a world where the term ‘doom scrolling’ even exists as a word.”
Billy Porter, Munroe Bergdorf and Gina Yashere
Bee Oshomuvwe, HR Manager: “Billy Porter has recently come out to the world about living with HIV, his story and fight for his life and truth is incredible. His vulnerability in opening up to the world on living with something which faces so much stigmatisation is incredible. He is responsible for TV shows like Pose, there is so much to him. He also has a very beautiful husband!
Munroe Bergdorf is a mixed transgender model, activist and downright badass. Munroe rose through opposition and nationwide vilification after being sacked by L’Oreal on their campaigns. I love her and everything she stands for.
Gina Yashere is a British born Nigerian comedian, spokeswoman and activist, and now a show writer. She is amazing and has achieved a hella of a lot. I love to watch her and she brings humour to life and has a great girlfriend, The Ninja who we see a lot on her Instagram. She recently published a book that is a collection of eccentric stories that combine family, race, gender, class, and country. There are loads of other figures for me, but these are people who have been on the beat when it comes to activism.”
Simon Hermitage, Design Director: “I became aware of Megan Rapinoe through her sensational performances in the 2011 Football World Cup and the 2012 Olympics. Since then I’ve followed her story and have been really inspired by her unwavering strength and bravery to support others and make her views known.”
Andy Cairns and Rob Halford
Paul Saunders, Senior Technical Designer: “Andy Cairns is from a band called Therapy? He grew up in Northern Ireland and being bisexual in such a religious place wasn’t easy. His music has been shaped by it. He is also a fantastic bloke who is so down to earth, will always come out and talk to the fans before and after gigs. Then there’s Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame. Tons of their songs are about the struggles of being homosexual, including the classic ‘Breaking the Law’, he was so terrified that the fans would abandon the band if they found out he was gay, but when he did come out the metal/rock scene rallied around him.”
Lil Nas X
Gareth Mills, Senior Producer: “Lil Nas X can be a controversial figure, but he’s recently publicly shown a huge amount of support to the LGBTQ+ community. His music videos are incredibly proud of being gay, and he shows a lot of bravery to those who aimed to repress him. Regarding the video Montero, he shared on social media that the song release was an important moment for him and his journey to self-acceptance. Now, he’s being honoured as an important member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Colin Harvey, Senior Writer: “Stephen Fry for me. He wasn’t always the national institution he’s now become – back in the 80s he was in the vanguard of the Alternative Comedy movement, throwing over lots of tired old stereotypes and bigoted humour.”