Celebrating British LGBT+ icons for LGBT+ History Month

Alan Turing Charlotte Summers

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician, born in London 1912. Working part-time for the British Government Code & Cypher school before WW2 broke out. 

In 1939, Turing took up a full-time role at Bletchley Park, where top-secret work was carried out to decipher the military codes used by Germany and its allies.

Turing’s most notable achievement at Bletchley was cracking the ‘Enigma’ code. The Enigma was an enciphering machine used by the German armed forces to send messages securely.

However, in 1952, Turing reported a burglary to the police, where it emerged that the perpetrator Arnold Murray was in a sexual relationship with him. 

As a result of anti-homosexuality laws in the UK in the 1950s, Alan was charged with gross indecency. He avoided prison by accepting chemical castration, which eventually left him impotent.

By the early 21st century, Turing’s prosecution for being gay had become infamous. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking on behalf of the British government, publicly apologized for Turing’s “utterly unfair” treatment. 

Four years later, Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a royal pardon.

Nicola Adams Charlotte Summers

Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams OBE is a British former professional boxer who competed from 2017-2019. She was the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title in 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalists in the women’s flyweight division.

She was appointed an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2013 New Year Honours for her services to boxing and in 2017 she was also appointed an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).

Alongside her achievements, she is openly bisexual and in 2012 was awarded the most influential LGBT+ person in Britain by The Independent.

She also became the first openly LGBT+ person to win an Olympic boxing gold medal.

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen Charlotte Summers

Sir Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen is an award-winning British actor known for his starring roles in “The Lord of the Rings” and “X-men”.

McKellen attended a school in Bolton where his acting career began at Bolton Little Theatre. His parents and sisters encouraged his early interest in acting, taking him to many theatrical productions, including Shakespeare plays.

In 1988 McKellen announced on BBC radio he was a gay man for the first time, although he had come out in his personal and professional life decades earlier. 

His work for the LGBT+ community is endless, McKellen co-founded Stonewall an LGBT+ group in the UK that is named after the 1969 Stonewall riots. Stonewall continues to date to support LGBT+ members whilst providing much-needed support and education.

McKellen’s work can also be seen across the globe, in June 2015 shortly after the U.S Supreme court legalisation of same-sex marriage, McKellen served as the grand marsh of the annual New York City Gay Pride Parade.

George Michael
George Michael Charlotte Summers

George Michael

George Michael was a Grammy-awarded singer and was one of the leading pop stars of the 80/90s. 

As a teen, Michael formed the band Wham! With high school friend Andre Ridgeley. In 1984, the duo had their first worldwide hit with “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”

Two years later, Michael went solo, releasing a hit debut album Faith, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

In 1998, Michael was arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s room at a public park in Los Angeles, California. Shortly after, he made a television appearance where he publicly announced he was gay.

Throughout his career, he had many successes and collaborated with legends such as Whitney Houston. 

Sadly, Michael passed away in 2016 aged 53. Following his death, many charities and individuals posted on social media about Michael’s generous philanthropic acts and how he often donated his time and much of his wealth anonymously.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah also known as Lady Phyll Charlotte Summers

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll, is a co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride.

Lady Phyll is consistently vocalising issues around race, gender and sexuality, proving herself to be a formidable voice for queer people of colour and the fight for equality. 

She has sat on the Trades Union Congress race relations committee and is currently a trustee of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights charity, Stonewall. 

Her work alongside her activism consists of public speaking as well as being a columnist for popular LGBT+ publications, she continues to change the lives of LGBT+ members across the globe.


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