50 Over 50
PRIDE COMES IN ALL AGES AND RAE JOAN ELKINGTON TAKES A LOOK AT SOME OF THOSE CAMPAIGNERS OVER 50 WHO HAVE TRAILBLAZED THE WAY FOR LGBT+ RIGHTS AND VISIBILITY
In 1971, Peter Tatchell moved to London to avoid conscription into the Australian Army. By 1972 he helped to organise the first UK Gay Pride Rally as a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front. It was held on the nearest Saturday to the Stonewall date of 28 June and less than 1,000 people attended.
Five decades have passed, and we’ve seen London Pride blossom into a vibrant celebratory rally with a festival atmosphere, attended by hundreds and thousands of LGBT+ people and our allies. In this time our community has won many LGBT+ law reforms, such as equalising the age of consent, repealing Section 28, and legal protection against discrimination and same-sex marriage. It was Peter Tatchell and other LGBT+ trailblazers who are now over the age of 50 who paved the way.
This list is a tribute to 50 of the incredible LGBT+ individuals who were born in the UK before 28th June 1972, and are still here to tell the tale. It’s by no means exhaustive. Some have been activists, some have made waves, and others have just lived openly; each has played an important part.
1972 (50) • Port Sunlight, Merseyside, England
Best known for playing Clarissa Mullery on Silent Witness, Liz is an actress, comedian, broadcaster and International Disability Rights, Activist. She lives in Bebington, with her civil partner Jo Church.
1971 (51) • Mynyddcerrig, Wales
Voted Stonewall’s “Gay Sports Personality of the Decade” in 2015, Nigel is a former international rugby union referee, TV personality and LGBT+ activist. He now rears Hereford cattle on his farm in his hometown of Mynyddcerrig, with partner Barrie Jones-Davies.
1971 (51) • Kingsclere, Hampshire, England
A former professional jockey, Clare is better known as a broadcaster, television, and radio presenter. She is a BBC sports anchor, Channel 4’s racing commentator and also a bestselling author and journalist. Clare lives with her wife, Alice Arnold, and their Tibetan terrier, Archie.
1971 (51) • Chichester, England
An English-born singer, songwriter, and visual artist, Anohni was formerly the lead singer of the band Antony and the Johnsons. She was the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Oscar.
A trans/non-binary activist, Bee Scherer is a Professor of Gender Studies and Religious Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University. They are also Director of INCISE (Intersectional Centre for Inclusion and Social Justice) and the founder of Queering Paradigms.
6. Dr Elly Barnes, MBE, FCCT
1971 (51) • Leicestershire, England
Dr Barnes is an LGBT+ Inclusion activist. As the founder and CEO of Educate & Celebrate, they have devoted their career to ensuring environments are welcoming places for everyone, including authoring the book: How To Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place: A Practical Guide for nursery, primary and secondary teachers.
7. Colin Jackson, CBE
1967 (55) • Cardiff, Wales
An Olympic silver medalist and two times world champion, Colin Jackson is a former sprint and hurdling athlete whose specialty was the 110 metres hurdles. His world record for 60 metres hurdles stood for nearly 27 years. Jackson came out as gay in 2017 in a clip on Swedish television promoting the series Rainbow Heroes.
8. Rebecca Root
1969 (53) • Woking, Surrey, England
Rebecca Root is an openly transgender English actress who most notably played the lead character Judy on BBC Two series Boy Meets Girl. She’s also a comedian and voice coach and advocate for LGBT rights as a patron of the charities Diversity Role Models and Liberate Jersey.
9. Sue Perkins
1969 (53) • East Dulwich, London, England
Perhaps best known for presenting the Great British Bake-Off, Sue is an English actress, broadcaster, comedian, and writer. Perkins has famously said “being a lesbian is only about the 47th most interesting thing about me”.
10. Trina “Golden Girl” Gulliver, MBE
1969 (52) • Royal Leamington Spa, England
Trina Gulliver is the 10-time Women’s World Professional Darts Champion of the British Darts Organisation. She lives in Warwickshire with her fiancée Nicole Van Gils.
11. Alan Hansford
1968 (53) • Cuckfield, West Sussex, England
Alan Hansford is a former English first-class cricketer. He played as an Opening Seam Bowler between 1989 and 1992. To date, he is one of only two openly gay professional cricketers, having revealed his sexual orientation after his retirement.
12. Stephen K Amos
1967 (54) • London, England
A stand-up comedian and television personality, Stephen K Amos publicly acknowledged his homosexuality to his audience for the first time in his revealing solo show, All of Me. He is also a celebrity supporter of the British Red Cross and their work with refugees.
13. Jill Ellis
1966 (55) • Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Jill Ellis is an English-American soccer coach and executive who is currently the president of San Diego Wave FC. She coached the United States women’s national soccer team and won two FIFA Women’s World Cups, making her the second coach to win consecutive World Cups. She now lives in Florida, with her wife Betsy and their adopted daughter Lily.
14. Sarah Waters, OBE
1966 (55) • Neyland, Wales
A multi-award-winning Welsh novelist, Sarah Waters is best known for her novels set in Victorian society and featuring lesbian protagonists, such as Tipping the Velvet, and Fingersmith. To quote the Royal Society of Literature fellow, “I’m writing with a clear lesbian agenda in the novels. It’s right there at the heart of the books.” Sarah lives with her partner Lucy in South-East London.
15. Hope Powell, CBE
1966 (55) • Lewisham, London
As a pro footballer, Hope Powell won 66 caps for England, mainly as an attacking midfielder, scoring 35 goals. The first woman to achieve the UEFA Pro Licence, she’s coached women’s football teams for England and GB in the Olympics and is currently the women’s first-team manager of Brighton & Hove Albion. Although Hope refuses to be drawn into a discussion about her sexuality, she has appeared on the World Pride Power List and the Pink List.
16. Samantha Fox
1966 (55) • Mile End, East London, England
Some readers may recognise Sam Fox from her Celebrity Wife-Swap appearance with her late wife Myra Stratton. Others will know Sam Fox as the most popular pin-up girl of the 1980s before signing to Jive Records. Her 1986 hit Touch Me made her an international pop star and gay icon. It was a big deal when Sam came out in 2003, having already dealt with obsessed fans and stalkers.
17. Alan Cumming, OBE, FRSE
1965 (56) • Aberfeldy, Scotland
You may know him best as Billie Blaikie from the original L Word, or perhaps as Eli Gold on TV’s The Good Wife. Alan is a Scottish actor who has been honoured for his activism and humanitarian work by organisations such as the Trevor Project and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. He identifies as bisexual and lives in Manhattan with his husband, illustrator Grant Shaffer.
18. Russell T Davies
1963 (59) • Swansea, Wales
Russell T Davies is a Welsh playwright, screenwriter and television producer whose illustrious career has centred on positive and authentic LGBT+ visibility in mainstream television. His works include: Queer as Folk, the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, Cucumber, A Very English Scandal, Years and Years, and It’s A Sin.
19. Graham Norton
1963 (59) • Clondalkin, Ireland
Noted for his innuendo-laden dialogue and flamboyant presentation style, Graham Norton is an Irish actor, author, comedian, commentator, and presenter. Well known for his work in the UK, he is a five-time BAFTA TV Award winner for his comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show.
20. Waheed Alli, Baron Alli
1964 (57) • Croydon, London, England
Alli is a British media entrepreneur, politician and a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust. He is the co-creator of the television series Survivor, a member of the House of Lords, a life peer for the Labour Party, and is described as one of only a few openly gay Muslim politicians in the world.
21. Eddie Izzard
1962 (60) • Aden, Yemen
Eddie Izzard is a British stand-up comedian, actor and activist. Although Izzard was born in Yemen, the family moved back to the UK when she was one. Her comedic style takes the form of rambling whimsical monologues and self-referential pantomime. Izzard is gender-fluid and uses “transgender” as an umbrella term. In 2020, she requested she/ her pronouns and said she wants “to be based in girl mode from now on”.
22. Cyril Nri
1961 (61) • London, England
Actor Cyril Nri, aka The Bill’s chief inspector Adam Okar, is a Nigerian British actor, writer and director. He has worked as an actor for 23 years starting at the RSC. Cyril addressed 120 African and Afro-Caribbean gay men at the UK’s first ever gay African culture event about his experiences of coming out.
23. Angela Eagle, DBE
1961 (61) • Bridlington, Yorkshire, England
Angela Eagle is the second openly lesbian MP in the Labour Party politician and has been serving as the Member of Parliament for Wallasey since 1992.
24. Rikki Beadle-Blair, MBE
1961 (60) • Camberwell, London, England
Rikki is a British actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, designer, writer and musician, raised by his mother, who is also gay, in South East London. He wrote the screenplay for the film Stonewall (1994) and wrote, produced and directed the Channel 4 series Metrosexuality (2001).
25. Mary Portas
1960 (61) • Watford, Hertfordshire, England
The English retail consultant and broadcaster, is known for her retail- and business-related television shows and leading a review into the future of Britain’s high streets. As part of the “I Do To Equal Marriage” event (which celebrated the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales) Mary and her then partner became one of the first couples in the UK to convert their civil partnership to a marriage.
26. Cressida Dick, DBE, QPM
1960 (61) • Oxford, England
As British senior police officer, Cressida Dick served as Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis from 2017 to 2022. She was both the first female and first openly homosexual officer to lead the London Metropolitan Police Service. When she came out as a lesbian in April 2017, she was the highest-ranked openly homosexual officer in British police history.
27. Aslie Pitter, MBE
1960 (61) • Balham, London, England
Aslie is a former British footballer who joined Stonewall F.C., Britain’s first and most successful gay football club, in 1991 and has been appointed an MBE for his work against homophobia in football. He now lives in Balham, London, with his husband Alan, and plays for and manages Stonewall FC’s second team.
28. Sandi Toksvig, OBE
1958 (64) • Copenhagen, Denmark
A Danish-British author, comedian, politician, presenter and writer, Sandi is perhaps best known for presenting QI and The Great British Bake-Off. She is also a political activist, having co-founded the Women’s Equality Party in 2015. Sandi now lives on a houseboat in Wandsworth with her psychotherapist wife, Debbie Toksvig.
29. Margot James
1957 (64) • Coventry, England
Margot was both the first openly lesbian MP in the Conservative Party and the first-ever openly lesbian Conservative candidate to stand in a British general election. She now lives in South Kensington and Stourbridge with her partner, Jay Hunt.
30. Stephen Fry
1957 (64) • Hampstead, London, England
Since coming to prominence in the 1980s as one half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, Stephen Fry has become somewhat of a national treasure. The English actor, broadcaster, comedian, director and writer famously presented the quiz show QI. A supporter of nature and wildlife conservation, the bird louse Saepocephalum stephenfryii was named in his honour and he is president of the mental health charity, Mind. Stephen lives with his husband, comedian Elliott Spencer, in Norfolk.
31. Paul O’Grady, MBE
1955 (66) • Birkenhead, Merseyside, England
English comedian, broadcaster, actor, writer and former drag queen. He achieved notability in the London gay scene during the 1980s with his drag queen persona Lily Savage, with which he went mainstream in the 1990s.
32. Dame Carol Ann Duffy
1955 (66) • Glasgow, Scotland
A British poet and playwright, Dame Carol is a professor of contemporary poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University who was appointed Poet Laureate in May 2009, but resigned in 2019. She is openly a lesbian, which has influenced the themes of much of her poetry.
33. Caroline Cossey
1954 (67) • Brooke, Norfolk, England
Caroline Cossey is a British model who often worked under the name Tula. She appeared in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only as a Bond Girl. Following her appearance in the film, she was outed as transgender by the British tabloid News of the World.
34. Christine Burns, MBE
1954 (68) • London, England
Christine Burns MBE is a British political activist best known for her work with Press for Change and, more recently, as an internationally recognised health adviser. Burns was awarded an MBE in 2005 in recognition of her work representing transgender people.
35. Kellie Maloney
1953 (69) • Peckham, London, England
An English boxing manager and promoter, and television personality, Kellie Maloney managed Lennox Lewis, who earned the title of the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world under her management. After appearing on the fourteenth series of Celebrity Big Brother, Kellie was called the most well-known transgender person in Britain”.
36. Peter Tatchell
1952 (70) • Footscray, Australia
British human rights campaigner, originally from Australia, is best known for his work with LGBT+ social movements. Tatchell was selected as the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey in 1981. He is a leading member of radical gay rights non-violent direct action group OutRage!
37. Rob Halford
1951 (70) • Sutton Coldfield, England
Judas Priest lead singer and songwriter Halford describes himself as “the stately homo of heavy metal”., In 1998, Halford publicly revealed his homosexuality on MTV. He is currently married to his husband Thomas.
38. Linda Ann Bellos, OBE
1950 (71) • London, England
British businesswoman, radical feminist and gay-rights activist. She was the first black woman to join the Spare Rib collective. She was vice-chair of the successful Labour Party Black Sections campaign to select African, Caribbean and Asian parliamentary and local candidates within the Labour Party. She lives in Norwich, England with her civil partner Caroline Jones.
39. Lord Michael Cashman
1950 (71) • London, England
Founder of Stonewall former British actor, politician, and LGBT rights activist. A member of the Labour Party, he has been leading a cross-party coalition to tackle the rise in homophobia throughout Europe.
40. Simon Callow, CBE
1949 (72) • Streatham, London, England
English actor, director, and writer. After marrying Sebastian Fox in 2016, he stated: “I’m not an activist, although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that make a difference and I think my coming out as a gay man was probably one of the most valuable things I’ve done in my life. I don’t think any actor had done so voluntarily and I think it helped to change the culture.”
41. Miriam Margolyes, OBE
1941 (80) • Oxford, England
Miriam Margolyes is a BAFTA Award-winning actress who played roles in the Harry Potter film series, Blackadder, Call the Midwife and voiced the Cadbury’s Caramel Bunny. Openly gay, she referred to herself as a “dyke” live on national television and may have been one of the first people to say “f**k” on British television in 1963! Margolyes is a Patron of My Death My Decision, an organisation which seeks a more compassionate approach to dying in the UK. She’s been in a relationship with Heather Sutherland since 1968.
42. Dame Jacqueline Wilson, DBE, FRSL
1945 (76) • Bath, England
Jacqueline is an English novelist, known for her popular children’s literature, notable for featuring controversial themes such as adoption and divorce without alienating her large readership. Since her debut novel in 1969, Wilson has written over 100 books. She has been living with her partner, Trish, for 20 years
43. Labi Siffre
1945 (77) • Hammersmith, London, England
Best known for his compositions It Must Be Love (which was covered by the band Madness) and (Something Inside) So Strong, Labi is a British singer, songwriter, musician, and poet. He entered into a civil partnership with his late partner, Peter Lloyd as soon as it was possible in the UK. From the mid-1990s until Lloyd’s death in 2013 he and Siffre lived in a ménage à trois with Rudolf van Baardwijk in South Wales.
44. Pam St Clement
1942 (80) • Harrow on the Hill, England
Pam St Clement is an English actress, better known as Pat Butcher in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. St Clement defines herself as bisexual and is a supporter of gay rights, campaigning with Stonewall against Section 28 and for lowering the age of consent for gay men. She is known to be an intensely private person who seldom speaks about her personal life.
45. Richard O’Brien
1942 (80) • Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
A writer, actor, musician, and television presenter, Richard O’Brien wrote the infamous cult classic musical The Rocky Horror Show in 1973, appearing in the film adaptation as Riff Raff. O’Brien identifies as the third gender and uses he/ him pronouns. “There is a continuum between male and female. Some are hard-wired one way or another, I’m in between.”
46. Sir Ian McKellen
1939 (82) • Burnley, Lancashire, England
You may know him as Gandalf or Magneto, but this beloved English Academy Award-winning actor is also a tireless campaigner for LGBT+ equality. Ian is a co-founder of Stonewall, was active in fighting the proposition of Section 28, and is a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust. In a 1998 interview that discusses the 29th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, McKellen commented, “I have many regrets about not having come out earlier, but one of them might be that I didn’t engage myself in politicking.”
47. Bette Bourne
1939 (82) • Hackney, London, England
British actor, drag queen, campaigner, and activist. His theatrical career has spanned six decades. In the 1970s, feeling disillusioned with show business, Bourne put his acting career on hold to become an activist with the Gay Liberation Front and was instrumental in the first UK Gay Pride Rally in 1972.
48. David Hockney, OM, CH, RA
1937 (84) • Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
An English painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer, David Hockney is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Hockney lives in a remote seventeenth-century cottage in Normandy, with his longtime partner, JP.
49. Amanda Barrie
1935 (86) • Ashton-under-Lyne, England
Amanda Barrie is an English actress who has appeared in two Carry On films and the ITV prison drama Bad Girls. Her best-known role, however, is as Coronation Street’s Alma Baldwin. Sadly, Amanda didn’t feel she could come out as bisexual whilst she was on the soap, for fear of being sacked. She is now married to journalist Hilary Bonner and the couple live in homes in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset and London.
50. Alan Bennett
1934 (88) • Armley, Leeds, England
Alan Bennett is a BAFTA, Laurence Olivier and Tony Award-winning English actor, author, playwright and screenwriter, perhaps best known for The History Boys, The Lady in the Van and Talking Heads. Openly bisexual, he famously referred to questions about his sexuality as “like asking a man who has just crawled across the Sahara desert to choose between Perrier or Malvern mineral water.”