Meet the 100 trailblazers changing the game for LGBTQI representation
BY DIVA STAFF
It’s finally arrived! The DIVA Power List celebrates LGBTQI women and non-binary people across screen, music, sport and more, and this year, we’ve selected 100 fabulous trailblazers doing their bit for our community. Launching in connection with #LesbianVisibilityWeek (Monday 25 April-Sunday 1 May), powered by DIVA and Stonewall alike, the Power List is designed to uplift, spotlight and show solidarity with LGBTQI women and non-binary people in all their forms – whether lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, trans, intersex, ace or aro.
DIVA will forever remain committed to representing everyone in our community. When we stand in solidarity and in peace with one another, we can achieve fantastic things. The individuals on this list are symbolic of that. Whilst things aren’t perfect and we’ve still so many barriers to break down, LGBTQI women and non-binary people are increasingly visible. We’ve always been there, but now, we’ve a voice. We’re doctors; lawyers; influencers, and more. But that’s not to say that everything is perfect: lists only go some way to recognising the struggle that so many have undergone. Visibility isn’t an option for everyone, and LGBTQI experiences diverge depending on race, class, wealth, and disability.
The DIVA Power List is part of our wider pledge to uplift underrepresented groups and to make the unheard voices, heard. Our rights are not guaranteed: they can be threatened, as witnessed with the UK Government’s refusal to include trans and intersex people in the Conversion Therapy Ban. Now more than ever, we need to shout at the top of our lungs and the DIVA Power List goes some way towards doing that.
So, without further ado…
Whitney & Megan Bacon-Evans
IVF campaigners & travel vloggers
Lesbian influencers Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans are LGBTQI content creators. They have been featured in the Guardian, Cosmopolitan, VICE, BBC and more, and recently initiated a legal campaign against NHS Frimley CCG after perceiving injustices in IVF access. They were also the first lesbian couple to appear on Say Yes To The Dress UK.
The couple have been visible online since 2009 when Megan set up their What Wegan Did Next blog. “At that time there was virtually no lesbian representation, as well as a great lack of lesbian role models in the media,” says Megan. “We hoped by putting our faces online, and showing a happy same-sex female couple, that it may help a few others struggling to accept who they are.”
When the pair embarked on their baby journey in 2020, they had no idea where to turn for information. Whitney explains, “That’s why we’ve tried to provide as much info as possible on our platforms, to help others navigate this journey. Of course, we weren’t expecting to realise that there’s many barriers and discrimination in place for LGBTQI people wanting to create their family.”
Following their IVF campaign with Stonewall, they’ve received many messages of support from other same-sex couples who have shared their own fertility journey. “We’ve even received messages saying that they had already given up hopes of creating a family one day but that our actions may literally change their life. Which is heartbreaking to read, but also reminds us of the wider impact that we hope to achieve for others.”
Actor & YouTuber
Abigail Thorn is an actor, YouTuber and the creator of Philosophy Tube. Her debut play will be staged in London this year and she has a leading role in Django, a Western period drama coming soon. In 2021, Abigail came out as trans.
Trans academic at Oxford & TikToker
Fleur MacInnes is a DPhil student researching trans feminist histories at Christ Church college, University of Oxford. At 23, they have over 27K followers on TikTok and much of their content surrounds queer, feminist history, whilst also navigating their neurodiversity and educating their followers about gender identity.
Content creator, deaf & disabled activist
Jessica is a deaf and disabled YouTuber, with a following of over 900K subscribers on YouTube and 335K followers on Instagram. She advocates for the LGBTQI community and spreads awareness of people living with disabilities. Vintage fashion-loving, she lives with her wife Claudia and their 10-month-old son, Rupert.
Marketing manager at TikTok & social media influencer
Marketing manager for UK, Ireland and the Nordics at TikTok, Lottie brings an LGBTQI focus to the leading destination for short-form video. She is the co-lead at Pride Europe, TikTok’s LGBTQI+ employee network, driving initiatives that benefit both LGBTQI employees and LGBTQI content creators on TikTok.
Climate justice activist & medic
Mikaela Loach is a climate justice activist, writer and co-host of The Yikes Podcast. Her organising work and Instagram focuses on highlighting the harm caused by the fossil fuel industry, and the intersections of the climate crisis with oppressive systems, such as white supremacy and migrant injustices.
Rose and Rosie
Media personalities, YouTubers & podcast presenters
Married couple Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton are a British comedy and entertainment duo. With over 1.5 million subscribers on their YouTube channels, the pair have documented their journey from fertility treatment to the birth of their baby, Ziggy. Their Spotify original podcast, Parental Guidance, has been nominated for multiple awards.
Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan
The creators of the Two Twos Podcast, Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan provide a platform for Black LGBTQI people in the UK. Accruing thousands of listeners, the pair have worked with RCA Label Group and have previously been spotlighted by Spotify. They have been featured by British Vogue, Stylist, Pink News, BuzzFeed and the BBC.
Author & podcaster
Ruby Rare is a queer influencer and author who uses her social media platforms to spread joyful and nuanced messages about sex, bodies and relationships. An ambassador for sexual health charity Brook, this sex educator has over 82K Instagram followers and hosts the popular podcast series #InTouch.
Model & award-winning asexual activist
Yasmin Benoit is a model, asexual activist, writer and speaker, described as “the unlikely face of asexuality” by Cosmopolitan. She started the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike movement for diverse asexual visibility and representation, and co-founded International Asexuality Day. In 2022, she started the UK’s first asexual rights initiative in partnership with Stonewall.
Broadcaster, DJ & reality TV personality
A presenter at BBC Radio 1, Adele Roberts is also an LGBTQI+ ambassador for Nissan. Labelling herself as “the only gay woman at Radio 1”, Adele’s work is widening WLW visibility. She aims to inspire the next generation of queer kids, and has been open about her recent journey with cancer and chemotherapy.Growing up without many LGBTQI women and non-binary people in the public eye, Adele felt alone. She tells DIVA, “I’m honoured to not only be lucky enough to work with companies and brands who have a huge platform, but also to be authentically myself alongside my partner Kate.” Whilst we’ve come a long way since Adele was a child, what are her hopes for further improvement? “We need to see gay women and girls from all different backgrounds appearing on our TVs, radios, films and magazines. That’s definitely happening, but there’s more work to be done.”
On her journey with cancer, Adele reflects, “It is similar to my journey as a gay woman – I’m out and proud! It’s important for me to share my experience. I hope it helps anyone else going through something similar. When I was first diagnosed I found so much comfort, positivity and drive from others sharing their stories.”
TV presenter & writer
With over 20 years of experience in broadcasting, Anna Richardson has presented Naked Attraction, The Sex Education Show and more. In a cover interview with DIVA in 2016, Anna stated that “being with a woman feels absolutely natural”. She is a proud trailblazer for LGBTQI women and non-binary people.
Comedian & author
Starring in her co-created sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola, Regina “Gina” Yashere is a Nigerian-British comic who publicly came out as gay after moving from the UK to the US. Gina uses her comedic material to advocate for LGBTQI rights and against racism, creating a space for marginalised communities within comedy.
Model & activist
Munroe Bergdorf is a transgender model, writer and activist who uses her platform to amplify marginalised voices, offering insight and instruction on feminism, diversity and LGBTQI topics. She has fronted campaigns for Illamasqua, Mulberry and Calvin Klein, and was the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK.
Comedian & actor
Appearing on The Last Leg, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, QI and Hypothetical, Rosie Jones is a visible figure for the LGBTQI community. Speaking on the intersections of being gay and disabled, Rosie has incorporated her cerebral palsy into her comedic style. In 2022, she appeared as a recurring character in Casualty.
Author, comedian, presenter & writer
Coming out as a lesbian in 1994, broadcasting legend Sandi Toksvig is a self-proclaimed “National Trevor”. Co-founding the Women’s Equality Party in 2015, she is also a political activist, and has penned an array of plays, novels and books for children. This year she tours her new show, Next Slide Please…
Bisexual comedian Sophie Duker has appeared on Taskmaster, Live At The Apollo and The Guilty Feminist. She was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, won the Funny Women Best Comedy Writer Award in 2021, and will debut her stand-up comedy show HAG this year.
Actor, broadcaster, comedian, presenter & writer
Sue Perkins is a writer and comedian best known for presenting The Great British Bake Off alongside double-act partner Mel Giedroyc. She has been described as one of the UK’s best-loved TV presenters, with notable work including Just A Minute, Hitmen and Big American Road Trip.
Comedian & podcaster
Suzi Ruffell is a popular British comedian, appearing on numerous hit TV shows and co-hosting the critically acclaimed podcast Like Minded Friends with Tom Allen. Having come out at 21, she now has another hit podcast, Out With Suzi Ruffell, where she explores queer lives and stories.
Drag queen & artist
Victoria Scone is a Cardiff-based celesbian and drag queen who competed on series three of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. At 29, she had been doing drag for three years before she was cast as the first cisgender woman in the whole of the Drag Race franchise.
Portraying non-binary character Ripley Lennox in Hollyoaks, Ki Griffin is a visible LGBTQI figure as a Black, queer, non-binary, intersex person. Speaking at London Trans+ Pride in 2021 with Intersex Equality Rights UK, Ki constantly stands up for the LGBTQI community, working to support people across the UK born with intersex variations.Joining Hollyoaks as Ripley, Ki was inundated with feedback that they were “starting conversations about gender diversity and sexuality in people’s living rooms. Parents were able to understand their children, and people were able to talk about their own identity because of Ripley’s presence as a non-binary character onscreen.” Ki offers some advice for allies within the industry: “Authentic casting within film and TV, centring the global majority and the LGBTIQA+ community, is how we stay visible, so keep doing it when others don’t.”What does Ki hope to achieve with Intersex Equality Rights UK (IERUK)? “The future of IERUK really excites me, as my specificality lies in art and culture. I’m looking forward to creating connections with different production teams, media groups and companies so we can work towards the representation that intersex folks truly deserve.”
Actor, writer, cultural producer & co-founder of Blacktress UK
Cherrelle Skeete is best known for playing Rose Granger-Weasley in the world premiere of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. Co-founder of Blacktress UK, she features in Amazon Prime’s Hanna and voices Orisa in award-winning video game, Overwatch. She is currently writing her debut play with the Soho Writers Lab.
Portraying Princess Anne in seasons three and four of The Crown, Erin Doherty has also appeared in the likes of Chloe, Les Misérables and Call The Midwife. A visible member of the LGBTQI community, Erin has described her relationship with fellow actor Sophie Melville as her “proudest achievement”.
Actor, dancer & singer
Genesis Lynea is an actor who has appeared in Casualty, Discovery Of Witches and Shadow And Bone, but is perhaps best known as Simone Tyler in Silent Witness. A queer woman of colour, Genesis is an advocate for equality and freedom of expression and wants to see more Black queer love embraced.
Actor & singer
From playing the first lesbian Othello at the Liverpool Everyman, to the first Black queen in Netflix’s Bridgerton as Queen Charlotte, Golda has provided much visibility whilst navigating her career as a Black lesbian. She’s also appeared in Dune, Lady Macbeth and Death In Paradise.
Actor & musician
Joining the cast of EastEnders as Eve Unwin in 2021, Heather Peace has featured in Lip Service, London’s Burning, Waterloo Road, Holby City and more. An out lesbian, Heather has been a visible WLW figure in her work as an actor and musician alike.
Starring alongside Jonathan Bailey in Cock, directed by Marianne Elliott, Jade Anouka returns to theatre after three years of acting in film and TV. Jade publicly came out as bisexual in 2020, wanting to take a stand with all queer people of colour during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Actor & activist
Actor and activist Liz Carr is an advocate for disability and LGBTQI rights. Liz is most recognised for her role as Clarissa Mullery on Silent Witness, and recently starred in the National Theatre adaptation of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, for which she won an Olivier Award.
Comedian, actor & screenwriter
Writing and starring in Feel Good, Mae Martin is a Canadian-born performer. Coming out as non-binary in 2021, Mae used Feel Good to explore gender and sexuality, loosely basing the series on their own experiences. They have also appeared in Comedians Of The World and The Flight Attendant, as well as being a stand-up and author.
Actor & singer
Making history by playing the Doctor’s first openly gay companion in Doctor Who, Pearl Mackie brought Black queer representation to the Whovian world back in 2017. She provided more visibility when she came out as bisexual during Pride month in 2020. She has appeared in the likes of The Long Call, Sour Hall, Doctors, Friday Night Dinner and Gods Of Medicine.
Taking to TikTok to platform original songs and covers alike, Cat Burns draws upon gospel and pop influences to create a unique sound. In May, she’ll be supporting Years & Years on tour, alongside Queer House Party, L Devine and Eddy Luna, speaking to the importance of queer visibility in music.
In conversation with NME earlier this year, the artist talked about what she wants to inspire in others. “I think I’m part of a wave of LGBTQ+ artists that are encouraging others to be more open. We’re singing about more complex things within the themes of love and relationships, such as dating someone who’s not out yet. A lot of artists have started to become more comfortable telling those important stories, both lyrically and visually, which has allowed me to be more open. Personally, I want to help Black queer artists to be like, ‘Ok, let me tell my truth, too.’”
She also addressed what she learned from trying to get signed. “When I started to grow my following on TikTok by teasing my own songs and showing that the demand was there, labels started to notice what was happening. I was like, ‘I’ve been telling you this the whole time!’ But I’ve always backed myself as I know what I’m doing is authentic, and people really want to hear it.”
Singer-songwriter & poet
Releasing debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams in 2021, Arlo Parks is changing the game with her female-focused lyrics. Songs like For Violet and Caroline platform LGBTQI visibility, with Arlo taking home the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize for her work. This was a watershed moment for Black, queer visibility.
Singer-songwriter, author & YouTuber
Dodie started off on YouTube, releasing an array of ukulele and guitar-based songs, including touching LGBTQI hit, She. Since coming out as bisexual in a song entitled I’m Bisexual – A Coming Out Song! Dodie has been an important figure for bi visibility, enjoying success with her debut album Build A Problem.
Emeli Sandé MBE
Emeli Sandé is an internationally renowned singer-songwriter, receiving an MBE in 2017 for her services to music. Best known for her hit single Next To Me, the Scottish singer recently came out as queer after meeting her current girlfriend. Her new album, Let’s Say For Instance, arrives this May.
English folk singer-songwriter Grace Petrie is an iconic lesbian figure in the music industry. Her body of work includes Connectivity, Queer As Folk, and Heart First Aid Kit. Viewing her butch identity as central to her stage performances, Grace has also been vocal about the need to dismantle transphobia.
Writing and performing for over 30 years, Horse McDonald has toured with the likes of Tina Turner and B.B. King, and collaborated with Heather Peace in 2011. She has previously worked with The L Project to raise money for LGBTQI causes. Her latest track, Leaving, builds on her trademark sound.
Since competing on The X Factor, Lucy Spraggan has climbed the ranks to stardom. After her debut album, Top Room At The Zoo, she produced four more, as well as her latest, Choices, which arrived in 2021. As a lesbian, she has been vocal about existing as LGBTQI in the music industry.
Record producer & artist
Ms. Mohammed is an up-and-coming artist and producer based in London. Originally from Trinidad, Ms. Mohammed spoke as an LGBTQI thought-leader at TEDxLondon in 2018. In her performance and talk, she expressed how living authentically is vital, especially for those privileged enough to be safe to do so.
Tanita Tikaram is a German-born pop/folk singer-songwriter. She first shot to fame in 1988 with the release of singles Twist In My Sobriety and Good Tradition from her debut album, Ancient Heart. In 2016, she released her ninth studio album, Closer To The People.
Tiana Major9 is best known for her Grammy-nominated single Collide, which featured in the Queen & Slim soundtrack. The British singer-songwriter released her nine-track debut EP At Sixes And Sevens in the summer of 2020, explaining that the title refers to her difficulty navigating matters of the heart as a queer woman.
Host of The Sarah O’Connell Show,
comedian, actor, film critic & artist
Host of The Sarah O’Connell Show, Sarah is a comedian, actor, film critic and artist. She has consistently raised awareness of trans equality issues and the importance of allyship, featuring guests such as Jameela Jamil and Lorraine Kelly. She was shortlisted for Campaigner of the Year at the British Diversity Awards 2022.
Sarah launched her show in 2016 to celebrate the careers of creatives, and in the lead up to Trans Day Of Visibility she releases special videos featuring the trans community and their allies. “Trans people have always existed, in every society. For many, it sadly still isn’t safe to simply be yourself. 2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans people worldwide, especially for Black trans women. I grew up during Section 28, before the internet. As far as I knew, I was the only person going through it. It’s important to be visible for all those who still feel that they can’t be, and to help educate and raise awareness about the discrimination still faced today.”
Through her work she’s opened up dialogues on many important topics. What does she think is key when it comes to approaching such conversations? “It’s important to be respectful. Don’t ask someone a question that you wouldn’t feel comfortable answering yourself. It’s also important to listen to marginalised communities, and learn about their everyday struggles and inequalities, rather than taking guidance from those inflicting it.”
Culture editor at VICE Media & author
Culture editor at VICE, Daisy Jones covers life, internet culture, queerness and relationships. Her debut book, All The Things She Said, was released in 2021 and explores how 21st century lesbian and bi life – from club culture to fashion and relationship styles – has infiltrated the mainstream.
Interim chair at Channel 4
A British media company executive, Dawn Airey has worked in television for over 30 years. She was named as interim chair at Channel 4 this January, having been appointed as non-executive director in December last year. She chairs FA Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship Football, the National Youth Theatre and the Digital Theatre.
Senior video journalist at Wall Street Journal
Eve Hartley is currently a senior video journalist at the Wall Street Journal. She was previously based in Colombia, where she documented the forgotten LGBTQI victims of the country’s civil war and the mistreatment of LGBTQI women in prison. Her work has been featured by the BBC, DAZED, VICE, The Telegraph, HuffPost and more.
Commissioning editor, executive producer, director & writer of LGBTQI content
Jacquie Lawrence is a BAFTA award-winning television producer, writer and director. Formerly a commissioning editor for Channel 4, she produced a quartet of lesbian documentaries for Channel 5 and Sky One. She adapted her novel, Different For Girls, into a web series and also directed the documentary, Gateways Grind, which premiered at the 2022 BFI Flare Festival.
Head of UK business marketing at Meta
Miriam Faber is head of UK business marketing at Meta. Joining as UK country marketing manager in 2018, she has since held multiple roles across Northern Europe whilst also serving as Meta’s London LGBTQI+ lead for its employee resource group. She has previously held positions at Adjust Your Set, OLIVER Agency, NCS, M&C Saatchi and more.
Journalist & creator of Black Queer Travel Guide
A journalist and historian, Paula Akpan has written for Vogue, The Independent, Stylist and more. Paula is working on the Black Queer Travel Guide, an app supporting Black queer travellers in navigating the world more safely. Her debut book, When We Ruled: The Rise And Fall Of 12 Queens, is out in 2024.
Chief operating officer at All3Media
Sara Geater has been COO at All3Media since 2015, a global production and distribution business. Previous roles include Fremantle Media UK, Channel 4, BBC, Avalon and Miramax. She is a barrister and sits on the board of governors at NFTS, as well as being a fellow of the Royal Television Society and the Royal Society of Arts.
Editor of Burnt Roti & author
As editor and founder of Burnt Roti, a South Asian lifestyle magazine, Sharan Dhaliwal provides a platform for young creatives and destigmatises mental health and sexuality. She is author of Burning My Roti, a book about how her queer Asian identity comes up against capitalism and white supremacy.
VICE UK editor-in-chief, BBC Sounds host & author
As well as being the editor-in-chief of VICE UK, Zing Tsjeng is a host at BBC Sounds. Penning the Forgotten Women series, she has also contributed to the upcoming East Side Voices: Essays Celebrating East And Southeast Asian Identity In Britain. She co-hosts the Obsessed With… Killing Eve BBC podcast.
Speaker, advocate, athlete & author
A speaker, athlete and author, Amazin LêThi is the first Asian LGBTQI athlete ambassador for over five organisations. She is also a board advisor for Queer Britain and the Vagina Museum. She has worked with Voice Of America, Forbes, Sky Sports, GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign.
On the importance of LGBTQI visibility in sport, Amazin tells DIVA: “Sport is a representation of society, and just like the rest of society, athletes should be able to show up as themselves.” She continues: “With the high rate of homophobia, transphobia and bullying in sport, having more LGBTQI representation will help to change hearts and minds and challenge anti-LGBTQI hate. Having participated in sports all my life as a competitive athlete, I know how much it would have helped me as a child to see out LGBTQI athletes and hear their stories.”
Amazin shares that she uses her experiences growing up to motivate her global LGBTQI advocacy work. “With the platform that I have now, I’m able to make positive change and really create an impact with global leaders. By sharing my own story, I know how much it helps other Asian LGBTQI kids. It’s a revolutionary act when you hear your LGBTQI story for the first time, and the everlasting impact that makes on your life.”
Anita Asante is an English football defender currently playing for Aston Villa in the FA Women’s Super League. She is vocal on important topics, such as racism, sexism and LGBTQI rights, talking publicly about her relationship with the journalist and former hockey player Beth Fisher. She is also an Amnesty International ambassador.
Beth Mead is one of the brightest talents in football, having twice been named Vauxhall England Young Player of the Year. She earned the FA Women’s Super League’s Golden Boot Award in 2015, won the 2018/19 Barclays FA Women’s Super League with Arsenal, and the Arnold Clark Cup in 2022.
Rugby sevens player
Celia Quansah is an English rugby sevens player. Selected as a member of the Great Britain women’s rugby sevens team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, her partner is Team GB international co-captain Megan Jones. Together, the couple also represent Wasps Women.
Charlie Martin is a British racing car driver and transgender rights activist who competes in endurance racing. In 2021, she finished third in class in the Britcar Endurance Championship. She has called for the normalisation of LGBTQI representation in motorsport, and is a Stonewall sports champion.
Demi Stokes plays for Manchester City and the England national team, having previously played for Sunderland in the English FA Women’s Premier League. With her sportsmanship, her side at Manchester City has secured seven trophies. She also represented Team GB at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Lianne Sanderson is a former professional footballer who has made a smooth transition from the pitch to become a high-profile TV and radio pundit. She is an Arsenal quadruple winner and won 50 caps for the England national team. Identifying as a lesbian, she has spoken out against homophobic and misogynistic online abuse.
Meg Jones is an English rugby player, born in Wales. Selected as co-captain of the Great Britain Women’s Rugby Sevens Team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, her partner is Team GB international teammate Celia Quansah. Together they also play for Wasps Women.
Sarah Stirk is a golf presenter at Sky Sports. She also co-hosts the Strikers And Radar podcast, a monthly podcast discussing all things golf. She is a columnist at Golf Monthly and a brand ambassador for Darwin Escapes and Wellesley.
Terri Harper is one of the world’s best female boxers. She is the former super-featherweight world champion, having held the International Boxing Organisation’s female title from 2019 to 2021, and the World Boxing Council’s title from 2020 to 2021. Terri uses her profile to enhance LGBTQI visibility in sport, and is a Stonewall ambassador.
Baroness Liz Barker
Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords
Baroness Barker is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. In 2013 she shared in a speech to the House of Lords that she was in a same-sex relationship. She is a patron of Opening Doors London and has recently campaigned against the treatment of LGBTQI people in Afghanistan.
Does she have any guidance for LGBTQI people who want to get into politics? She tells DIVA: “Be clear about the values which matter most to you and the changes which you want to bring about. Then find like-minded people with whom you can work.”
What does representation, inclusion and visibility mean when it comes to parliament? “Representation has improved but parliament is still not fully inclusive. Until it is, those of us who have a platform must use our position to speak up for those whose voices are yet to be heard.”
Baroness Barker has consistently used her platform to speak out against bigotry. With International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia And Transphobia just around the corner, what advice would she give about taking a stand against these issues? “Explain in clear, practical terms how discrimination impacts on people’s lives, and how individuals are denied human rights which other people take for granted.”
MP for Lanark & Hamilton East
Angela Crawley is an SNP politician, elected as MP for Lanark and Hamilton East in 2015. She was the SNP spokesperson for Equalities, Women and Children between 2015 and 2020, and is now SNP Shadow Attorney General. She also serves on the Justice Committee.
Baroness Ruth Hunt
Member of the House of Lords & campaigner
Ruth Hunt, Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green, is a member of the House of Lords. The chief executive of Stonewall from 2014 to 2019, she deeper connected Stonewall with diverse communities globally, and now uses her position to advocate for our rights. She runs Deeds + Words with her partner Caroline Ellis.
MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood
Cat Smith is a Labour politician, having served as the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood since 2015. A visible bisexual MP, she was appointed as shadow minister for Women and Equalities by Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 after just four months in parliament.
Dame Angela Eagle
MP for Wallasey
Serving as the Labour MP for Wallasey since 1992, Dame Angela Eagle was the second openly lesbian MP in British history, following the late Maureen Colquhoun. Since coming out in a newspaper interview in 1997, she has been a visible voice for LGBTQI women in politics, honoured as a dame in 2020.
MP for Livingston
Hannah Bardell has served as MP for Livingston since 2015. A member of the Scottish National Party, she served as its spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport from 2018 to 2019. She came out as a lesbian after being elected and has since been vocal about homophobia in politics.
MP for Batley & Spen
Kim Leadbeater has been Labour MP for Batley and Spen since July 2021. The sister of Jo Cox, she previously worked as an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation to create positive change and build a fairer, kinder world. She lives with her partner, Clare Mullany.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
The leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid is the first Black, bisexual woman to lead a British political party. In 2015, she founded The Cup Effect, a charity working to eliminate period poverty by donating menstrual cups across the UK and East Africa.
MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South
Mhairi Black is the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South. Elected in 2015 at 20, she became the youngest MP elected to the House of Commons since 1832. Mhairi identifies as a lesbian and when asked about her decision to come out, she replied, “I’ve never been in.”
MP for the Llanelli
Having served as MP for Llanelli since 2005, Nia Griffith is the shadow minister for International Trade. She has been vocal about the impact of Section 28 on LGBTQI lives, particularly those of LGBTQI teachers, having taught in a Welsh secondary school. She came out as a lesbian in 2016.
COMMUNITY / CAMPAIGNER
Director of Ozanne Foundation, writer, broadcaster & LGBTQI campaigner
Campaigning to safeguard LGBTQI people from abuse, Jayne Ozanne is the founder and director of the Ozanne Foundation. Launched in 2017, the foundation works with religious organisations around the world to tackle prejudice and discrimination towards LGBTQI people. Jayne is also the founder and chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition.
What is the biggest lesson Jayne thinks we can take away from the recent decisions surrounding the ban? “The biggest lesson for me is that there are some for whom politics will always trump principles.” Does she have any advice for LGBTQI people struggling to find harmony with their identities and faith? “Firstly, please know you are loved, you are lovable, and that you are a precious part of God’s creation. Secondly, know that you are not alone – there are many of us who have been where you now stand, and who have found a pathway to happiness and fulfilment. Finally, hold onto the truth that whilst there may be some dark nights ahead, where some of those closest to you may not understand the path you are taking, there is always, always a new dawn.”
On what solidarity means to her, Jayne says: “It is choosing to stand together in such a way that those who are feeling vulnerable, weak or under attack can know that the rest of us will stand with them in order to create a ‘solid ground’ on which all can thrive.”
Helicopter Pilot at National Police Air Service
Having served in the RAF for 13 years, Ayla Holdom now flies helicopters for the National Police Air Service. She came out as transgender in 2010, and is a trustee for Stonewall, a patron for Mermaids, and an advisor and volunteer for All About Trans.
Head of wellbeing & education at Birmingham Pride, writer & coach
Char Bailey is a coach, writer and facilitator specialising in holding space for LGBTQI youth to centre mental wellbeing and healing. She’s the head of wellbeing and education at Birmingham Pride, a board member at Neurodiversity In Business, a facilitator at WE CREATE SPACE, and a wellness and wellbeing ambassador at UK Black Pride.
Christine Burns MBE
Editor of Trans Britain, retired equality & inclusion specialist, blogger & podcaster
Christine Burns is the editor of Trans Britain, a book documenting the history of trans existence. She has campaigned for over 30 years, working primarily as an equalities consultant. She helped to form the Gender Recognition Act and wrote the first official guidance about trans people for the Department of Health.
Emergency medicine doctor & TV presenter
Dr Ronx is an award-winning, community focused, trans non-binary emergency medicine doctor and TV presenter. They are a regular on CBBC’s Operation Ouch, and live by the motto “you cannot be what you do not see.” Dr Ronx actively champions LGBTQI representation, raises money for local charities and is a youth “bigger-upper”.
Head of communications & engagement at Birmingham Pride, blogger & speaker
Eva Echo is head of communications and engagement at Birmingham Pride and an ambassador for London Transgender Clinic. Documenting her gender journey on her blog, [SquarePeg] (RoundHole), Eva has been an active voice in campaigning for trans healthcare rights, notably taking legal action against NHS England over delayed waiting times.
Founding director of BLM Fest
Kayza Rose is the director and creative producer at QTIBPOC Creatives, and the founding director at BLM Fest. Using creative practices to give marginalised groups a voice, BLM Fest centres the Black experience, kicking off Black History Month each year.
Music artist, storyteller, founder & CEO of Gaysians & Tiger Iron Studios
Reeta Loi is a storyteller and founder and CEO of Gaysians, a volunteer-led movement supporting South Asian LGBTQI+ voices. With a career spanning over 20 years, Reeta is a powerful force for our rights and works with VICE, GAY TIMES and TEDxLondon.
Political activist, educator, co-chair of SEEDS & head of diversity and inclusion for Birmingham Pride
Saima Razzaq is head of diversity and inclusion at Birmingham Pride and the first Muslim woman to lead a Pride parade in Britain. She is also the founder of Birmingham’s only floating hotel, Boatel Birmingham, with which she hopes to diversify the inhabitants of the city’s waterways using the arts.
Intersex consultant, writer, creative, founder of
Intersex Equality Rights UK
Valentino Vecchietti (she/they) works extensively in culture to create intersex inclusion, visibility and representation. In 2021, Valentino created the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Flag. It was internationally welcomed as the new Pride flag, culminating in Lewis Hamilton wearing Valentino’s flag on his helmet at the Qatar Grand Prix. Valentino also founded Intersex Equality Rights UK.
Chief executive officer at Galop
Leni Morris is the chief executive officer at Galop, the LGBTQI+ anti-abuse charity, having previously held positions at Stonewall, Action Against Hunger, Pride in London, Amnesty International and the BBC. Under her leadership, Galop was crowned Charity of the Year at the 2022 Burberry British Diversity Awards.
Galop has been supporting LGBTQI people for 40 years. When it comes to abuse, LGBTQI people are underrepresented in or left out of the conversation. “That’s why Galop exists – to make sure there’s a space for our community where you know you won’t have anti-LGBTQI+ prejudice, and that we really understand who you are and what’s happened without you needing to explain or educate us.”
Last year, Galop opened the National Conversion Therapy Helpline. How has the service been impacted by the latest decisions by the government? “We have had calls from trans people and from parents of trans people really concerned about what this means for those at risk of these practices. We worked recently with a pair of siblings – one bi, one trans – where they were both put through the same abuse and violence by their parents to try to force them to be cis and straight. Under this legislation, only one of those siblings will be protected. That cannot and should not be acceptable. We need a ban, and our whole community deserves to be protected.”
Director of comms & media at Just Like Us
Amy Ashenden is the director of comms and media at the LGBTQI+ young people’s charity, Just Like Us. She was the first LGBTQI correspondent at the Evening Standard, and has previously worked for Daily Mirror, PinkNews and the Guardian.
Digital engagement manager at Mermaids
An award-winning writer, media commentator and former editor-in-chief of DIVA, Carrie Lyell is now digital engagement manager at Mermaids, a charity supporting gender-diverse kids, young people and their families. They have written for the Guardian, The Independent, Metro and Gay Times, and in 2021, were listed in Attitude Magazine’s 101 LGBTQ Trailblazers.
Fundraising & initiatives manager
Cat Haldane is the fundraising and initiatives manager at Stonewall Housing, a charity working to help LGBTQI people experiencing homelessness. Cat has worked in the queer charity sector for over 10 years, and her work includes corporate fundraising, special events and creating queer-specific content and mixed media. She also runs the House of Stonewall collective.
Chief executive officer at SAYiT
Heather Paterson is CEO at SAYiT, formally known as the Sheena Amos Youth Trust. Providing support and social opportunities for LGBTQI young people across Sheffield, SAYiT was established in 1999. Heather is also the LGBTQI+ columnist at Exposed Magazine and co-chair of Sheffield LGBTQI+ multi-agency network.
Helen Jones MBE
Founder of MindOut
Helen Jones is the founder and former CEO of MindOut, a mental health service supporting LGBTQI people. She started MindOut 22 years ago, and was bestowed with an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours for her contributions to LGBTQI mental health.
Chief executive officer at Stonewall
Nancy Kelley is the chief executive at Stonewall. Working alongside LGBTQI activists both in the UK and globally, she has advocated for vulnerable children, mental health awareness and refugees throughout her career. She has worked across policy, advocacy, research and insight.
Co-chair at Switchboard & podcast producer
Tash Walker is co-chair at the LGBT+ helpline Switchboard. She is producer of The Log Books podcast with Shivani Dave and Adam Zmith, which documents unheard queer stories and censored histories, discovered in boxes of Switchboard’s archives at Bishopsgate Institute. She is also co-founder of Aunt Nell and Get In Her Ears, hosting a monthly show on Soho Radio.
Executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust & co-founder & CEO of UK Black Pride
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust and co-founder and CEO of UK Black Pride. A human rights activist, co-editor and author, community builder and organiser, she is one of the most influential LGBTQI changemakers in the UK, working to evoke changes in and awareness of LGBTQI rights across the UK and the Commonwealth.
Emeritus Professor, chair of Schools OUT UK & LGBT+ History Month & co-founder of The Classroom
Sue Sanders is Professor Emeritus of The Harvey Milk Institute, chair of Schools OUT UK, and co-founder of both LGBT+ History Month and The Classroom. She has worked as a teacher, tutor and lecturer in both London and Sydney, and has campaigned for LGBTQI inclusive education in the classroom for over 40 years.
Head of business management, group legal & compliance at LSEG
Arlene McDermott, head of business management, group legal and compliance at LSEG, is dedicated to enhancing ways of working and promoting collaboration. She is global co-chair of LSEG’s LGBTQI+ network and has featured on the Global Diversity, Visible 100 and OUTstanding lists.
For Arlene, the highlight of her career has been being “supported by LSEG to start and grow our Pride network. It has been a wonderful experience. I’m proud of my organisation’s position on LGBTQI+ rights, and the platform that we have given to organisations such as Trans In The City to promote inclusion.”
On representation and visibility, Arlene had this to say: “For many here and around the world there is still fear and uncertainty about being an out member of the LGBTQI+ community. Being visible sends a clear message that being your true self is safe and valued.”
How does she think employers can nurture a workplace where employees can be their true authentic selves? “A happy workforce is a productive workforce. Employers need to recognise the huge benefits of inclusion. Support from across the organisation is vital, all the way up to the executive suite and boardroom. By being visible, out and proud members of the LGBTQI+ community, or allies, leaders can create a culture where inclusion is more than a measure but a reality for all employees.”
CEO of Trans In The City, diversity & inclusion consultant at bp, Stonewall Housing golden champion & MindOut ambassador
Bobbi Pickard is CEO of Trans In The City and diversity and inclusion consultant at bp. Across her career she has worked at BDO, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas and Allianz Insurance. Since its formation, she has transformed Trans In The City into a large organisation collaborating with over 250 companies.
Operations manager at BT
Bryony Jackson-Doward is operations manager at BT. Since joining as a loyalty agent in 2012, she has risen through the ranks. She is known for her charity and volunteering work, alongside her passion for engaging people. She has previously held positions with Blackburn, Darwen Borough Council and Studio Retail Ltd.
Chief marketing officer at TSB
Chief marketing officer at TSB Bank, Emma Springham is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion. During her career, she has worked for Post Office, Royal Mail, Allianz, NatWest and Barclays. She is focused on LGBTQI issues and mental health, and was listed in The OUTstanding Top 100 Executives 2021.
Senior vice president & apprenticeships lead at Citi & co-chair of Citi Pride LGBTQI+ network
Jacqui Lloyd is senior vice president at Citi, and leads on apprenticeships. She is also the co-chair of Citi Pride’s LGBTQI+ network, helping to define its strategy and lead its work. Citi has ranked within the top 11 places in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers for the past four years.
Vice president of research & development in front end innovation at Procter & Gamble
Joia Spooner-Fleming is vice president for global grooming research and development at Procter & Gamble. Joia also serves on the global grooming equality and inclusion council and the research and development Black leadership team, with active leadership roles across P&G’s African ancestry, LGBTQI+ and women’s networks.
Chief executive officer at London Stock Exchange
Julia Hoggett has been chief executive officer of London Stock Exchange since April 2021. Before this she was director of market oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority. Across her career she has held roles at Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, DEPFA and JPMorgan.
Global business development director at MyGwork, public speaker, music artist
Michelle Raymond is director of global business development at myGwork, the world’s largest talent platform and professional network for the LGBTQI community. Michelle also runs LAVICHI Records, a record label to amplify the work of diverse musicians. She has opened for Miley Cyrus, Meghan Trainor and Rita Ora.
Director of public affairs UK&I for HIV at Gilead Sciences & LGBTQI+ employee resource group lead
An expert in communications in the pharmaceutical industry, Rebecca Dandridge is also proud to lead the European LGBTQI+ employee group at Gilead Sciences. She is passionate about helping grow a company culture that prides itself on its inclusion and diversity.
Senior manager at Deloitte UK
Tolu Osinubi is an advocate of diversity, inclusion and intersectionality and is the intersectionality lead for GLOBE UK (Deloitte UK’s LGBTQI+ network). She has presented at internal and external events about the Black experience in the UK, demonstrating her multiple intersections as a Black LGBTQI role model working in tech.
DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.