7 LGBTQ Activists From The UK Who'll Give You All The Inspiration You Need To Make Change
In some more privileged parts of the world, Pride has become more a chance to celebrate the rights that LGBTQIA+ activists and citizens have won, than a place to fight for them. But while some might oppose Pride as a mainstream, getting the LGBTQIA+ cause to the forefront of the country's consciousness has been a long-fought battle, pioneered by some of the UK's most courageous individuals. Now that Pride month is here, it's time to learn about some LGBTQ+ activists from the UK who deserve to be remembered.
From the early 20th century to the present day, these individuals have been instrumental in propelling the LGBTQIA+ movement forward. While some of the earlier activists campaigned for visibility and equal rights for LGBTQIA+ citizens, more recently activists have sought to shift Pride's meaning slightly, with a focus on inclusion. As the activists working today will tell you, there's still quite a way to go. The issue of transphobia in the UK, for instance is still one of the most pressing. Priorities are shifting so that everyone under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella can be treated equally. Here are some of the less mentioned names who have steered that vision forward.
1. Jackie Forster
Actor, TV presenter, and news reporter Jackie Forster came out as a lesbian in 1969, at the age of 43, and joined the Campaign for Homosexuality in the same year, according to The Independent. She very quickly became an influential voice there, as she went onto serves in its Executive Committee, who she walked alongside in the UK's first Pride march in 1971. Aside from that role, Forster's been a contributory force for lesbian's rights in particular. In 1970 she founded the famous social group, and one of longest-running lesbian publications Sappho.
2. Antony Grey
After Antony Grey died on June 3, 2010, the Guardian declared that he was "the most important British gay rights campaigner of the 20th century." They certainly have a point there. Grey played an essential part in the legalisation of gay sex. He rallied tirelessly for the cause — writing speeches, lobbying at parliament, spreading the word anyway he could — until his, and many other's, dream became a reality.
3. Lady Phyll
Before the work of lesbian activist Phyll Opoku-Gyimah aka Lady Phyll, Pride was far too much of a whitewash. After all, racism has sadly been as rampant in the gay community as it has elsewhere, which is why Lady Phyll's proposed Black Pride movement has been so necessary. Because of Lady Phyll's work, on Feb. 25, 2019, Stonewall announced a partnership with Black Pride, in order to bridge a stronger relationship with the LGBTQIA+ and BAME community.
4. Charlie Craggs
Trans activist and founder of Nail Transphobia — the series of pop-up sessions that involve as much glam and manicuring as they do education on trans issues — Charlie Cragg is a hugely influential proponent in LGBTQIA+ activism today. By visiting schools, giving manicures, and writing books —including this one, which celebrates her trans sisters — Cragg's doing whatever it takes to educate and change the conversation.
5. Shivananda Khan
You may not have heard of the NAZ Foundation, but it's been a vital resource for providing and prioritising health care for the BAME of Britain. Before his death in 2013, Shivananda Khan was the man behind it, and his foundation has since gone onto help 10,000 people each year, particularly those affected by HIV, according to its website. Khan achieved many global accomplishments, including the time he successfully challenged India’s Section 377 which criminalised gay sex, as Gay Star News reports. His activist work went rewarded with the very high honour of an admission into the Order of the British Empire in 2005.
6. Chardine Taylor Stone
Let's face it — the world's a better place with people like Chardine Taylor Stone in it. Year on year, she's proven herself an instrumental proponent of UK LGBTQ activism, having made Diva's 2016 Power List, and Buzzfeed's 'The Most Inspiring British LGBT People Of 2016' for consistently challenging racism within the community and its venues. She perhaps most famously founded the 'Stop Rainbow Racism' campaign which has educated venues and promoters "many forms in which racism manifests."
7. Reeta Loi
As a writer, musician, and activist, Reeta Loi's a triple threat. As the CEO of British foundation 'Gaysians,' Loi's been elemental in providing positive representation for the LGBTQ Asian community in the UK. "We need allies. We need more people to be talking about the subject of homosexuality to South Asians," she told the Gay Times in November 2018, and that's a talking point she's accelerated with her persistent, persuasive brand of activism.