Every year in July, thousands of people – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, binary and allies – come to Liverpool city centre to spend two days in a wonderul, rainbow flag-festooned celebration of us all being free to live our lives as ourselves.
It is easy to believe over that weekend that equality has been achieved, that homophobia has been vanquished and that nobody is being judged, bullied or discriminated against because of their sexuality.
Sadly though, there is still much work to be done.
Ahead of Liverpool Pride this weekend, the ECHO is celebrating the achievements of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in this list of 59 inspirational LGBTQ people working hard to make real change throughout the other 363 days of the year. We were planning to make it a list of 50 – but were overwhelmed with suggestions of people to include so have expanded the list.
Here they are, in no particular order. We asked the organisers of Pride and other LGBTQ+ organisations in Liverpool to help compile this list. However, if you feel we have left out someone deserving then please let us know in the comments section.
Joan Burnett – LGBT+ film events co-ordinator & visitor services manager at FACT
Joan Burnett had an idyllic childhood in New Brighton and went to Weatherhead High School, before studying at University of Newcastle.
Returning to Merseyside in 1987, her first job was in the box office at the Everyman Theatre, where she first met happy, out and creative LGBT+ people.
She was profoundly shocked by the death of Michael Causer in 2008, and attended the public meetings that followed.
Driven by this, she was a highly active Trustee of Liverpool Pride from 2010 until 2018, with a focus on community and arts activities, and originated Pride’s film programme.
Her passion is for welcoming everyone to FACT where she’s worked as visitor services manager for 15 years, and she will continue as a volunteer for LCR Pride Foundation coordinating LGBT+ film events and encouraging participation.
She lives in Wavertree with partner Ann, and is committed to continuing to campaign for social inclusion and equality.
Harry Doyle – Labour and Co-operative councillor for Knotty Ash
Aged just 23, Harry describes himself as the ‘baby of the chamber’ on his Twitter account.
The Liverpool Hope University graduate is an LGBTQ activist who campaigns to reduce hate crime and make Liverpool a more inclusive city for the transgender communities.
He was the main author of a motion which, among other things, asked planning officers to “actively encourage” developers and businesses to include individual gender neutral W/C facilities in public buildings.
The councillor and supply teacher was also a vocal opponent of a campaign group which refused to recognise transgender women as women.
Warren Ward – Head of public affairs and policy at Wirral Chamber of Commerce
Warren Ward was elected Labour councillor for Bromborough, Port Sunlight and New Ferry when he was only 18 – just a few months after he publicly came out as being gay. Wirral’s youngest ever councillor, he stepped down at the age of 20 to focus on his career and family.
The New Ferry explosion and subsequent campaign for regeneration saw him become one of Wirral’s most high-profile figures. He also spoke out on LGBT issues and the need for more young people to be represented in the town hall.
Imogen Christie – trans activist
Trans activist Imogen Christie is one of the organisers behind Liverpool’s International Transgender Day of Visibility.
They were born in Glasgow in the early 60s and recently contributed to What’s Your World Pride Story? - an anthology of real-life accounts by writers from across the globe.
They wrote: “You know that reflection when you have not a scrap of make-up on and your sweat tash has sideburns to match, as big as mutton chops?
“It is the girl though who looks back at me, it is the girl who could only be the girl she is through the experience of being the boy she once was.”
Tracy O’Hara – Merseyside Police
A police officer in Merseyside since 1996, DC Tracy O’Hara has dedicated her service to fighting for the rights of LGBT people and has improved the relationship between police and the LGBT community.
Tracy has become a strong and recognisable voice for LGBT rights in Merseyside, across the country and internationally, going above and beyond her role in Merseyside Police.
Since 2001, she has been the chair of the Merseyside Police Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Staff Support Network and co-chair of the National LGBT+ and Police Network since 2015.
In 2009, Tracy won the International Police Officer of the Year award from the International Association of Policewomen and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished services to LGBT matters within the police service in 2017.
Bev Ayre – Programmer & creative producer at Culture Liverpool
Bev Ayre was the brains behind the stunning opening ceremony for the Netball World Cup 2019 staged at the M&S Bank Arena earlier this month.
She is also the curator of the RISE season of extraordinary women artists and thinkers – a series of events, exhibitions and happenings in Liverpool by local and internationally-renowned women.
As development director for Homotopia she produced the April Ashley exhibition with the Museum of Liverpool, and was previously development director at Stonewall, the organisation that campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain.
Nobody who has met Roger Hill is likely to forget him, whether they are a young David Morrissey being inspired by Roger’s coaching at the Everyman Youth Theatre or a member of the audience when he is performing as his avant-garde alter ego Mandy Romero.
Originally from Leicester, Roger moved to Liverpool in the late-70s with experience as a teacher and director – as well as a colourful mohican and bondage trousers.
As well as drawing out the talents of young actors at the Everyman, he helped set up the Citadel Arts Centre in St Helens and has contributed to Arts Council policy on community theatre.
He is also a presenter on Radio Merseyside, with the UK’s longest running alternative-music programme.
Yew Fook Sam – member of the Open Table LGBTQIA worship community
Yew Fook Sam, better known as Sam, was a colourful and popular figure in last year’s Pride march.
Sadly he still faces deportation to Malaysia, where homosexual acts are illegal and punishable under federal law, because officials do not believe he is a gay man.
He is being supported by Open Table, which now has 17 communities across England and Wales, and started at St Bride’s Church, Percy Street, in 2008.
Sam recently received some good news when a decision to withdraw support, and a notice to quit his housing, was overturned.
Billy Coughlin – Kitty’s Show Bar
Billy Coughlin owns the LGBT+ and cabaret bar that was formerly the James Monro pub on Tithebarn Street in the city centre.
Kitty’s Show Bar, named after the resident drag artist Kitty Litter, who Billy performs as, prides itself on being a place where everyone in the community is welcome and providing a safe haven for the gay community.
Billy told the ECHO last year: “Our clientele ranges from locals, those from out of town, Kitty fans, the gay community, the LGBT community and the trans.
“Everyone is welcome. Everyone. We do not put any pressure on anyone. You can be whatever colour you want, do whatever you want, everyone is welcome and safe in here.”
Paul Williams, manager of Mersey Marauders football team
Mersey Marauders FC is an LGBT+ friendly football team founded in 2005. The initial premise was for “Fairies across the Mersey” to gather together and join in the national 5-a-side tournaments, promoting health and fitness and providing a social group for gay and bisexual football supporters and players in and around the Liverpool area.
Since then, the club has gone from strength to strength. An application to join the GFSN (Gay Football Supporters Network) National League was approved in March 2012 and they stormed to a League and Cup double.
New manager Paul Williams took over in time for the club’s 10th anniversary in 2015, and they are always on the look-out for new players.
Cameron Kavanagh – celebrated his first ever Pride in Liverpool
In January 2018, Cameron Kavanagh went out in drag for the first time.
He was 19-years-old, a university student in Liverpool and had previously only ever explored the act of drag through pantomime.
Six months later he celebrated his first Pride as baby queen, Ketona Madrave.
Cameron’s drag career started at Heaven nightclub on Victoria Street, as an events management student, when he was a bartender.
Since starting, Cameron has found his confidence grow.
Speaking to the Echo last year, he said: “How I first came out in January in drag, to how I am now has completely changed.
“As Ketona Madrave I’m a woman, I can walk down the street with my head held high, I’ll batter my eyelids if I think someone’s good looking and if someone says a sarky comment, I’ll dismiss it.
“As Ketona, I’m more comfortable in myself.”
Emily Linka - Started a worldwide conversation about being LGBTQ+ and disabled
Emily, who says she was dumped by her partner for being ‘too disabled’, started a worldwide conversation about being gay.
The 32-year-old has Ehlers-Danlos and a functional neurological disorder, causing chronic pain.
After suffering a stroke last year, the autism training consultant has been using a wheelchair.
Asking her Twitter followers for success stories of what love looks like while being disabled, Emily was overwhelmed by the responses.
She said: “It’s made me so emotional. I’m having such a hard time coming to terms with using my wheelchair and last year I was broken up with for being too disabled (and that was before I used a chair at all). It’s so wonderful to be blessed with all these amazing stories of diverse love.”
Barry Heap – Therapist by day, comedian and burlesque performer by night
Barry’s comedy started as a way of coping with the traumatic fall-out of a violent incident.
As a therapist dealing with many troubled individuals, Barry developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a service user pulled a knife on him during an assessment.
Barry, 39, originally from Allerton but now living in Warrington, says he launched himself into stand-up as a way of “learning to laugh” at the situation.
Founder and promoter of Cheshire Cat Comedy nights, Barry also performs burlesque under the stage name Bear Glitz, which he says has helped him accept his body and gain confidence.
In his day job working for a local authority, Barry helps vulnerable people including many from the LGBT+ community.
Speaking about issues often faced by LGBT service users, he said: “It’s a lot to do with acceptance, shame and guilt.
“You help by basically just bearing witness and listening to them.
“I love doing the comedy but I would never leave my job, it is very satisfying.”
Ben Saunders – Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the year
Ben Saunders was crowned Stonewall Young Campaigner of the Year in May 2019, after producing a powerful and moving short film featuring the voices of trans young people from across the North West.
Through the documentary, the 17-year-old from Wirral explored the experiences and challenges trans young people face at school, highlighting the importance of other pupils learning about diverse LGBT identities.
The Birkenhead Sixth Form College student filmed at YPAS and also presented it at Transgender Day of Visibility for GYRO and The Action Youth, showing the research that went into the making of the film.
Ian Usher and Shaun Duggan – Organisers of Sonic Yootha club night
Ian Usher and Shaun Duggan are credited by some with helping to save Liverpool’s gay scene.
For four years the pair have organised the Sonic Yootha events based in Kitchen Street.
The club nights are aimed as a haven for “homos, heteros, drag shows and don’t knows” and have been celebrated for their unique atmosphere.
Ian told the ECHO previously: “It’s madness. There’s nothing else like it in the city. It’s a complete melting pot of young, old, in between, gay, straight, drag… freakshows.”
Angela Eagle – Labour MP for Wallasey
Angela Eagle became only the second ‘out’ lesbian MP when she announced her sexuality in a 1997 newspaper interview.
Ms Eagle, who has represented Wallasey since 1992, has campaigned for gay rights and gender equality in parliament.
She served as a cabinet minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and was shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Ed Miliband’s opposition.
Ms Eagle previously told the ECHO’s Queer Liverpool podcast how the reaction of her colleagues and constituents moved her to tears.
Describing how she came out to then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, she said: “I told him, and he went ‘tell me something I didn’t know already, love. Can I give you a hug?’.”
John Bird & Andi Herring – Organisers of Liverpool Pride festival and co-chairs of the LCR Pride Foundation
Party planning supremos Andi Herring and John Bird have dedicated thousands of hours of their spare time to LGBTQ+ events and organisations.
They lead the team of volunteers that organises Liverpool’s Pride festival in their roles as co-chairs of the LCR Pride Foundation.
Andi was LGBT Officer for two years during his time at Liverpool Hope University and has since worked on projects including Liverpool’s Stanley Street Quarter, the city’s designated LGBTQ+ quarter and the Pride in Liverpool Festival.
John started off as the Pride festival’s volunteer social media manager before taking a role on the board as trustee and then co-chair.
Jonathan Harvey – Coronation Street writer and award-winning playwright
Jonathan Harvey is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter.
He is a regular writer on Coronation Street where he has penned some of the most controversial episodes in the soap, including the David Platt male rape story line and the tragic storyline in which Aidan Connor took his own life.
On stage, he is perhaps best known for writing the play Beautiful Things, a tender and optimistic play about two damaged boys and the love that heals them, first performed in 1993.
A screen adaptation of the play was released in 1996 by Channel 4 Films, with a revised screenplay also by Jonathan.
Jonathan is also the author of a number of books, including The History of Us, based on the Wavertree street where he grew up.
Charr Binns – Interim director at Homotopia & a director of Liverpool Queer Collective
Brought up in West Yorkshire, Char Binns lived in London for nine years before, as she puts it, “accidentally” moving to Liverpool in 2017.
She fell in love with the city to such an extent that she even has a tattoo of the Dazzle Ferry on her arm.
Char is the head of Homotopia, the UK’s longest running LGBTQ+ arts and cultural festival, where she has been in the role of interim director since January and, prior to that, for two years as festival manager.
Char is also a director of Liverpool Queer Collective, together with Mel Underwood and Andrew Bullock.
The trio lead a team of volunteers who run queer and trans-friendly events in Liverpool as an alternative to the mainstream gay ‘scene’, as well as writing about queer culture on their blog.
As a qualified run coach, Char is also the Trainer of GoodGym Liverpool, a community of runners who get fit while helping out charities and community groups.
She lives in Toxteth with her partner Emma and their family of house plants.
Jonathan Larkin – Hollyoaks writer
Jonathan Larkin is from Dingle, where he attended Shorefields Comprehensive School.
He grew up in a matriarchal family where he developed a love of strong female voices, so this coupled with a love for soap operas and horror movies put him on the path to writing.
Through the Everyman Young Writers’ Programme he had his first play on in 2006 – Paradise Bound, a piece about queer identity and what it meant to be working class in a city dubbed Capital of Culture.
He has spent a decade on the writing team at Hollyoaks where he has had the pleasure of writing stories with queer characters at their heart.
Most recently he received critical acclaim for his episodes in the Footballer Abuse and Far Right storylines.
He is currently working on a queer film project, based in Berlin, which will go into production in 2020.
James Lawler, Martin Green – DuoVision
Co curators at DuoVision’s The Gallery in Stanhope Street, Martin Green and James Lawler curate exhibitions by undervalued artists, photographers and designers aiming to engage a wider audience.
Since it was founded in 2012, DuoVision has worked extensively with the LGBT creative community and brought a range of artists to Liverpool, often for their first exhibition.
Music, performance and discussion are also integral to DuoVision, with exhibition soundtracks produced by Marc Almond and Jarvis Cocker, performances by Patrick Wolf and Andrew Logan, talks by David McAlmont, Sheila Rock, Glen Matlock and Corinne Drewery.
Chris Porter & Paul Rooney – GYRO
Both Chris and Paul work for the Young Person’s Advisory Service (YPAS) based in Liverpool.
The YPAS supports young people and families in the city offering counselling, information and guidance.
Chris and Paul’s roles include running GYRO (Gay Youth ‘r’ Out) - a youth group for young people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans (LGBTQ+) or questioning their sexuality.
They offer support services and advice, working closely with young people to develop events including exhibitions to bring their voice and perspectives to the community.
Colette McKune – chief executive of social purpose group ForViva
Equal rights champion Colette McKune MBE has fought against discrimination throughout her career.
Last month, she was appointed chief executive of the national social purpose group ForViva. This reinvests profits in activities and initiatives that have a positive impact on people, aimed at preventing homelessness, improving health and wellbeing, and creating new job opportunities.
From Crosby, Ms McKune is the first LGBT woman to lead the organisation, and said she was determined to continue Manchester-based ForViva’s tradition of continuously improving its approach to inclusion and diversity.
Paul Corcoran – CEO of marketing agency Agent
Liverpool-born Paul Corcoran, CEO of Liverpool marketing and brand agency, Agent, was recently the only representative from the north of England selected to take part in the government’s first ever LGBTQ+ trade mission.
Organised by the Department for International Trade and the British Consulate in New York, the event celebrated diversity in business and encouraged international opportunities for LGBTQ-led UK businesses.
As well as his role as CEO, Paul holds a number of positions, including deputy-chair for Liverpool City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership, co-chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s creative and digital board, vice chair of Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres, and Policy and Evidence Centre industry champion for the creative industries.
Sophie Green – artist and trans advocate
Sophie believes in positive engagement. She started her journey as a role model volunteer speaker for Diversity Role Models, a charity tackling homophobic and trasphobic bullying in schools.
She is a facilitator for All About Trans, an organisation that aims to create better representation in the Media, engaging with Hollyoaks, the BBC and the NHS, and is actively involved in the organisation of Liverpool’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Sophie is also the co-creator of the Trans Girls Can campaign to bring more inclusivity to trans women in sports, and for the last three years a run leader at Liverpool’s biggest run club Dockside Runners, actively engaging and supporting the community.
She is a professional freelance artist and designer and has 20 years’ experience working in the fields of graphic design, art and illustration.
Gary Millar – Liverpool councillor
Old Swan Labour councillor Gary Millar – one of Joe Anderson’s three deputy mayors – made history in 2013 when he became the first Lord Mayor in the country to be in a civil partnership.
He is one of the most high-profile members of the council. However, he announced last month he would not be seeking re-election when his current term comes to an end next May.
The successful entrepreneur was originally elected to the council as a Liberal Democrat in 2008, before switching sides to Labour in 2011, after which he was quickly made an assistant cabinet member.
Mel Underwood, Liverpool Queer Collective
Mel Underwood founded Liverpool Queer Collective alongside her partner Ashleigh in 2016, with the aim of enriching the city’s LGBTQ+ community.
The Collective creates safe-spaces, both physical and virtual, which champion and celebrate queer culture. It also exists to give a voice to LGBTQ+ people and to offer an alternative to mainstream gay club culture.
It describes its mission as “to empower LGBTQ+ people to live their best queer lives and to be out and proud”.
Sandi Hughes – activist
Now aged 76, Sandi Hughes’ life reflects the changing attitudes to gay people in the UK. Born in 1943 to a British white civil servant mother and a black American GI, Sandi was brought up in children’s homes around Bristol before joining the WRENs aged just 17. She married a man she met in the Navy and moved to Liverpool in 1963.
The marriage proved to be short-lived and Sandi became part of Liverpool’s fledgling gay scene. However, she was denied custody of her three daughters on the grounds that she was an unfit mother because of her sexuality.
Parted from her own, Sandi became a surrogate mother to boys who had been thrown out of their families because they were gay, before she re-established contact with her own family in the 1980s.
As well as her charity work, Sandi is an accomplished film-maker who has chronicled Liverpool’s gay scene.
Paul Amann – Kop Outs
Paul Amann has worked throughout his career to improve the lives of the LGBTQ community.
He is responsible for the development and creation of Kop Outs, Liverpool FC’s LGBTQ fans group.
At a time when being both LGBTQ and a football fan seemed incompatible, Paul worked hard to create a safe space for fans of the beautiful game.
Paul also ensured the signage at Anfield was changed to make a clear statement to all about inclusivity. The sign reads: “Anfield has given violence, racism, foul language & homophobia the boot. Enjoy the game.”
Kop Outs has grown to become a club-recognised fan group that helps to enable LGBTQ fans to attend the match in confidence and without fear.
Michael Franks and Darryl Redmond – owners of gender-neutral salons Michael Franks
With salons in Liverpool One and the Ropewalks, the Michael Franks team decided on Liverpool because of its diversity. Their service differs to most because clients are charged by the length of their hair, rather than their gender.
Explaining their gender-neutral service, Liverpool FC fan Michael described their policy as a “fairer approach”, adding: “It is outdated to think that all men wear short hair and all women wear their hair long.
“It’s not about putting a gender to it. We don’t say to men who have long hair you need a woman’s haircut and vice versa, you’ve either got long hair or short hair and we’ll charge you on that.”
The Vivienne – drag artist
Dubbed “Liverpool’s sassiest drag queen”, The Vivienne is a drag artist, performer, actor and an official UK ambassador for RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The Vivienne uses social media to promote inclusivity while highlighting issues the community still faces today.
She has hosted a variety of LGBTQ events across the country.
Danny Kilbride – Thinking Film
Danny Kilbride is a filmmaker and creative director who studied at Liverpool John Moores University.
He set up Thinking Film at the age of 23, in October 2011. The social enterprise uses an innovative approach to film and media to provide people with a voice to new and diverse audiences.
Danny’s films tackle stories about relationships, gender identity, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia plus mental health issues.
Thinking Film also works with community groups and charities, including the Princes Trust, YPAS and Liverpool Pride.
Alan Wilkinson & David Pandan – Pride in Liverpool Volunteers
Friends Alan Wilkinson and David Pandan have been keen volunteers and supporters of Pride since its inception. This year’s event will be their ninth year as volunteers.
Pride in Liverpool works to ensure Liverpool remains the welcoming, friendly city it always has been and works to show support the LGBTQ community.
Alan told the ECHO: “It’s very important to volunteer and help the public. We’ve worked on the fundraising side of pride and it helps me get to know loads of people.”
Sean Donnelly – Knowsley councillor
Councillor Sean Donnelly specialises in community development through deliberative engagement, with a big focus on equality and diversity.
The Labour councillor for Whitefield Ward in Knowsley is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and uses social media to spread a message of support and inclusivity.
On Twitter, he regularly shares updates about Pride and retweets supportive messages from within the LGBTQ community.
Rebecca Connolly, Misfits Management
Rebecca Connolly is an Irish-born LGBTQ activist who now resides in Liverpool.
Rebecca uses her social media platforms to share support for the LGBTQ community while also highlighting issues and problems still faced by LGBTQ people.
Rebecca works closely with Misfits Celebrity Management, a social media agency that manages celebrities like Holly Hagan while also working with LGBTQ performers and allies like The Vivienne.
Rebecca also has links to Gay Times, a magazine focused on “amplifying queer voices”.
Ben Osu – TV presenter
Toxteth born-and-bred, Ben Osu quickly became well-known in Liverpool having presented Made in Liverpool.
Before he even left secondary school Ben was running his own organisation and projects, promoting the positive aspects of young people and youth culture.
Ben was part of the campaign to bring the MOBO awards to Liverpool in 2010 and was a London 2012 Olympic Torch bearer.
Ben recently founded Oxygen, a consultancy firm focusing on corporate social responsibility.
Emily Williams, young trans activist
Emily Williams is a young trans activist that has already made major waves in the LGBTQ community.
She works with Mermaids, the award-winning charity that focuses on supporting children, young people and their families while helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that gender variant and transgender children may experience.
Mermaids accepts submissions from children and parents who wish to write about their gender identity experience, all with the hope of educating and supporting others.
Darren Suarez – House of Suarez
Darren Suarez is artistic director at the House of Suarez, a Liverpool-based vogue dance theatre company.
He has worked with some of the biggest names in showbiz from Paul O’Grady to the Sugababes, as well as TV shows such as Dancing on Ice and Dance Mums UK.
House of Suarez will be running masterclasses during this year’s Pride in Liverpool, teaching guests how to vogue.
Darren has said he has noticed a huge difference in the attitudes to diversity in Liverpool in recent decades since he came out in the late-1980s.
Ann Miller McCaffrey & Emma Miller McCaffrey
Ann Miller McCaffrey joined the Royal Navy 30 years ago and has worked in a number of roles including a stint in the Royal Marines.
She was particularly proud to be following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a World War II veteran who served in the Merchant Navy.
At Liverpool Pride 2016, Ann proposed to her partner, Emma, in front of a huge crowd whilst wearing full naval uniform.
Ann said that year’s theme of “Coming out of the shadows” resonated with her due to the way attitudes had changed to diversity within the armed forces over recent years.
Emma Miller McCaffrey is a community engagement manager for Diversity Role Models, a charity which promotes inclusion and empathy. She met Ann at her very first training session back in 2003.
The couple later married at St George’s Hall and became the the first same-sex couple to hold their wedding reception at Royal Naval Reserve unit HMS Eaglet.
Emma was invited to to 10 Downing Street to celebrate Pride Month in June 2018. She took four young people and a teacher with her, and introduced a 14-year-old girl to the then Prime Minister, Teresa May.
Viki Tidser – Liverpool Rollerbirds
Originally from Glasgow, 34-year-old Viki Tidser spent eight years in the Armed Forces before leaving to study for a nursing degree.
She started Roller Derby skating more than five years ago, transferring to the Liverpool Roller Birds team 18 months ago – a group of women she describes as ” talented and inspiring”.
Viki was selected for Team Scotland, representing them at the Women’s Roller Derby World Cup in 2018.
She told the ECHO: “Roller Derby is a sport leading the way in LGBTQ+ inclusivity. It is a community of open-mindedness, allowing people to express themselves openly.
“The genuine inclusiveness within Roller Derby assists in shaping a safe environment where people can be who they are without fear of judgement.”
Daniel Hughes – British LGBT Awards founder
A big name in the PR world, Dan has also been a key player in the Labour Party.
Formerly a special adviser, he advised a number of prominent frontbenchers on media relations.
In 2014, Dan helped found the British LGBT Awards. The event is now the highlight of the annual LGBT red carpet calendar.
He went on to found Daniel Hughes PR, which represents a number of big name corporate firms – as well as celebrity and lifestyle clients.
Most recently he was appointed by Virgin EMI and Louis Walsh to lead the PR campaign for Westlife’s big return to the British music scene.
He is also working with The London Patient, the second person in the world to be cured from HIV Aids, as they prepare to tell their story later this year.
Lucy Day – Impact office at LJMU
Lucy Day came to Liverpool in 1998 to do a degree in Psychology and Biology at Liverpool John Moores University. She loved Liverpool so much, that she stayed and she has been here 20 years.
She now works at LJMU as the university’s impact officer and she is also a co-chair of the LJMU Together LGBTIQ+ staff network, which promotes equality and inclusion for LGBTQI+ staff.
It informs the development of university policy and provides an opportunity for LGBTQI+ colleagues to network and access support.
Liverpool Pride has always been volunteer led and Lucy was chair of the trustee board from 2013-2018.
Lucy told the ECHO: “It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall Riots. All of the people who have come before us, who have stood up for their right to be who they want to be in the face of adversity, violence and oppression, are inspirational.
“Although we’ve come a long way in the UK for LGBTQI+ equality, we’ve still got a long way to go.
“There is still a fight for trans rights and I believe we all have a role in supporting the trans community to make their voices heard and accepted.
“Internationally, there are still 72 countries across the world where it is illegal to identify as LGBTQI+ and 12 in which the death penalty is imposed.”
Joanne Lightwood- Team leader at the Armistead Centre
The Armistead Centre is a community focused HIV prevention and sexual health service for the LGBT+ and sex working community of Liverpool.
Joanne was born in Anfield into a traditional Catholic family where if things didn’t fit into “normal” family behaviour they were swept under the carpet.
She says that she knew from an early age that she was different, and wasn’t like her cousins or friends and “was a bit of a tomboy”.
Joanne told the ECHO: “Growing up was tough with no role models to look up to or LGBT + people on the TV that I could even relate to, homophobia was rife.
“In 1997, I became a youth worker and worked alongside my sister in-law, Sandra Richardson, who was a proud openly gay woman.”
She started volunteering for Armistead in 1998, and was later appointed to a paid post.
She added: “During my career I’ve met many people from clients to leaders who have inspired me to remain committed to services that support the LGBT+ community in Liverpool.
“My partner and I have just become the proud parents of a baby girl who will positively change our lives forever; this is something I could have only dreamed of as that isolated, scared young girl.”
Lee Rowlands – Liverpool Tritons
Lee Rowlands is director of rugby at Liverpool Tritons.
Operations manager of a chain of pubs in Liverpool city centre, he started playing for Liverpool Tritons rugby team three years ago, and was made captain for the 2018/19 season. It was the club’s most successful season to date.
Lee, who grew up in Widnes but moved to Liverpool when he was 18, has said he was proud of helping people from the LGBT community who have never taken part in any competitive sport.
He is aiming to widen the Triton’s outreach to be even more inclusive and is building a mixed gender touch team.
Dan Carden – Walton MP
At just 31-years-old, Dan’s political rise has been nothing short of meteoric.
A relative unknown when he was selected by Labour to stand for the Walton Parliamentary seat in 2017, he has already rocketed to a shadow front bench position in Jeremy Corbyn’s top team.
As well as being named Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, his career has already seen him become a strong advocate of local issues in the Walton area.
He has also raised LGBT issues in Parliament – including highlighting the concerning ‘gay cure’ therapies being offered at one church in his constituency that were brought to light after an undercover investigation by former ECHO reporter Josh Parry.
Julie Callaghan – News From Nowhere
Julie Callaghan is a bookseller at News From Nowhere Radical & Community Bookshop at 96 Bold Street, Liverpool.
The 60-year-old, who grew up in Seaforth, realised she was a lesbian in her very early teens.
What made coming out easier for her were her years of going to Eric’s punk club in Mathew Street during the heyday of punk, surrounded by flamboyant people like Pete Burns, Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford.
She joined News From Nowhere around 1988 and the shop’s politics inspired her to embark on many campaigns, including protests against Clause 28 which banned the “promotion” of or even the mention of homosexuality in schools. The clause was eventually repealed in 2000.
When in the early 90s, a group of students got together to put on Liverpool’s first ever Pride, News From Nowhere promoted it and became involved in the festival.
Linster Sangster – Beers For Queers
Linster Sangster are the musician and filmmaker behind Liverpool’s Beers For Queers social club.
Working in music and making records since they were 17, they were inspired by the post punk scene in Liverpool that started in Eric’s and the DIY culture that accompanied it.
Initially in the out queer group Send no Flowers, Linster also released two albums under the name Bad Anorak 404.
Their documentary work includes indie queer feature films Break my Fall by Kanchi Wichmann (2011) and Unhappy Birthday by Harriot/Matthews (2012).
Linster are at the mixing stage of a new album, under the name Campbell L Sangster, and continue to write soundtracks for mostly LGBTQIA+ directors.
Tessa Willow – CEO of Sahir House
Tessa Willow joined Sahir House in May 2018, having held a variety of paid, volunteer and trustee roles in local and national charities including CEO of Volunteer Centre Liverpool.
She has sat of the boards of NCVO and Volunteering England, and worked on engagement and inclusion in health and social care, and had project management roles in mental health charities.
She also has many years’ experience of volunteering and campaigning with women’s organisations, LGBT+ groups and mental health services.
Prior to taking the role, Tessa had been a supporter of Sahir House, which has been offering HIV support, information and training across Merseyside since 1985.
Josh Parry – journalist
Despite only being 26-years-old, Josh Parry has still managed to highlight and expose the organisations behind “gay conversion” therapies in Liverpool.
His investigation, for which he was awarded Young Journalist of the Year in 2017, saw Josh go to a Liverpool church that was offering a dangerous therapy involving prayer and starvation to “cure” gay people – which although proven not to work and to cause harm, is sadly still legal in the UK.
Josh visited the church posing as a member of the public with a hidden microphone, and recorded the assistant pastor claiming being gay is a “deceit of Satan” and advising him to pray and starve himself.
This investigation gained national recognition and went on to highlight the failings of an organisation which could potentially cause massive harm to many.
Clare Campbell – Big Luv Sista
Clare Campbell is an artist, poet and activist that founded Big Luv Sista, a social enterprise that “welcomes women into a warm circle of friendship to transform lives through the power of art.”
The group creates projects, exhibitions and events and works with large organisations like Probation Services, city councils and local businesses to bring people together and create safe spaces for those who feel marginalised.
On the Big Luv Sista website, it says: “In 2012, while recovering from a breakdown she founded Big Luv Sista, which was borne out of the legacy of a successful project which saw 100 exhibit their portraits at The Tate, Liverpool.”
Clare has performed her poetry at Homotopia and has also run workshops for Liverpool Pride.
Azzuro Penderghast – drag performer
Liverpool drag performer Azzuro Penderghast can lay claim to working alongside some of the biggest drag artists in the world.
As events at entertainments manager at Heaven, one of the city’s biggest LGBT venues, Azzuro is responsible for organising and booking world-class drag acts and has performed against some of the biggest names in the industry.
In the last few years she has performed stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race stars in Liverpool like AJA, Aquaria and hosted Courtney Act when she performed at Liverpool Pride in 2018.
The performance artist has also used her drag outfits and makeup to highlight issues within the community across the UK.
In 2017, she wore a vintage 1950s wedding dress during the Belfast Pride march in the hope that “one day they’ll allow us to marry who we love.”
Christian Owens – Merseyside Police
Detective sergeant Christian Owens is a trans activist who was born female and has led the way for trans inclusion and awareness in Merseyside Police.
In a blog for Liverpool Museum, Christian spoke about how he started life as a ‘smalltown invisible boy’ in Runcorn.
Christian said: “I say ‘boy’ because that is how I saw myself, even though I was born female. Aged 17 years, I ventured out of Runcorn to the big city of Liverpool, as a person identifying as a gay female.”
At 23, Christian joined Merseyside Police and said that he seriously considered a different career path as he experienced misogyny and homophobia first hand.
He added: “The police service progressed, as I did as a person. In 2009, still struggling with my gender identity, I confided in a loyal colleague, who helped me to embark on a journey that was life-changing. 2012 was my transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.”
And an ally…
Eileen Lea – The Lisbon
Eileen was nominated for this list by Andi Herring and John Bird, co-Founders of LCR Pride Foundation, along with Joan Burnett, from Film with Pride.
They said: “We are so fortunate to be supported by many incredible allies, but we feel that one long-standing ally deserves special recognition, Elieen Lea from the Lisbon.
“She has supported LCR Pride Foundation as a fledgling organisation, as well as the Michael Causer Foundation and she provides a fantastic inclusive venue in the Lisbon, as well as supporting countless individuals in the community over the years.
“Just one example is how she took in a member of her own bar staff – a member of our LGBT+ community – and nursed him until he passed away.
“This is just one example of Elieen’s kindness. She’s a wonderful example of how to be a great ally.”
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