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  • Writer's picturePride Power List


The 100 most influential LGBT people of the 2012 in the worlds of business, politics, arts and entertainment.

As the UK gears up to host World Pride 2012, it’s time for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to shout about what they’ve achieved. So welcome to the World Pride Power List 2012, spanning the worlds of business, politics, arts and entertainment. Homosexuality remains illegal in more than 70 countries, with penalties ranging from imprisonment to death. That’s why it’s so important to build a platform and celebrate those who are out, proud and successful now.

“Young people today are the first generation to have gay people in the public domain as role models,” says Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall and one of the judges. “Drawing attention to these role models matters.” The other judges were: Michael Fuller, managing director, UnitedHealth UK; Linda Riley, managing director of Square Peg Media and Cuc Vu, chief diversity officer, the Human Rights Campaign.

To get to the final 100, the judges used a number of criteria, including influence, contribution and the impact of the nominees’ work over the past year. The list is one of extraordinary variety, but there’s a single message behind it. Summerskill sums it up: “If you are young and gay, realise this: there is no reason to ever underestimate your potential.”


1. Jane Lynch - actor

It was as US TV-comedy Glee's ruthless cheerleading squad leader Sue Sylvester – "Had my tear ducts removed. Didn't use 'em" – that award-winning US actor, comedian and author Jane Lynch schemed her way into the affections of millions worldwide. The role crowned a 25-year career that has taken in improvised comedy, film, TV, theatre and writing. She has never shied away from her sexuality, marrying psychologist Lara Embry in 2010 and is a vocal advocate for gay rights. "Life is just a big extended improvisation," she told students at Smith College, in Massachusetts, this year. "Embrace the ever-changing, ever-evolving world with the best rule I've ever found. Say 'Yes, and …'"


2. Lord Alli - Labour peer and entrepreneur

Media entrepreneur, businessman and both the youngest and the first openly gay peer in the House of Lords, Waheed Alli works for gay rights at the highest levels. Leaving school at 16, his drive has taken him from being a £40-a-week researcher on a magazine to co-founding Planet 24, which went on to make some of Channel 4's best-known programmes. He was instrumental in both the lowering of the age of consent for gay sex from 18 to 16 and the repeal of Section 28, which forbade the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities. He continues to campaign for improved gay rights worldwide.


3. Gok Wan - TV presenter

Few British TV personalities are as universally recognised and loved as Gok Wan. Shy and obese as a child and now passionate about having a healthy body image, he found his calling in fashion styling. It was his warmth, humour and knowhow on TV series How to Look Good Naked that first catapulted him to fame. He has written a number of fashion books, designed his own range of spectacles and presented numerous TV shows, including Too Fat Too Young, a documentary that examined childhood obesity. And in his spare time – of which there isn't much – he supports numerous charities, including hosting the Stonewall awards.


4. Barney Frank - US politician

Not many US politicians have the courage to come out. Democratic congressman Barney Frank is one of the few – in fact, he was the first member of Congress to admit his sexuality voluntarily. He is a champion of civil rights, including LGBT rights, and in 1998 he founded the National Stonewall Democrats, the first national Democratic LGBT organisation. In the near future he plans to marry his partner, Jim Ready. "I'm used to being in the minority," he told an interviewer in 1996. "I'm a left-handed gay Jew. I've never felt, automatically, a member of any majority."


5. Tammy Baldwin - US politician

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has chosen to ignore those she calls "the naysayers, the cynics, and the keepers of the status quo; those who say 'you can't, you shouldn't, or you won't'". Her career is a perfect illustration of that philosophy. She's a fearless champion of equal rights, clean energy and universal healthcare, and is the first non-incumbent, openly gay person to serve in Congress. Along with Barney Frank, she established the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus in the US House of Representatives in June 2008, which works for the rights of LGBT people in the US and around the world.


6. Tim Cook - chief executive of Apple

Following Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, one of the world's most valuable companies, was always going to be tough. But Cook is putting his stamp on the company. The son of a shipyard worker, he worked at Compaq and IBM before arriving at Apple to become Jobs' chief operating officer and is credited with helping to turn a once-ailing company into the £500bn powerhouse it is today. As he recently told a technology conference: "We're always focused on the future. We don't sit and think about how great things were yesterday. I love that trait. I think it's the thing that drives us all forward."


7. Sir Ian McKellen - actor

His roles in blockbuster films have made McKellen a global superstar. But he's also one of the most charismatic actors working in film, TV and theatre, rising from humble beginnings in Burnley to the heights of his profession. He came out in 1988 – during a Radio 3 discussion on Section 28 – and from that moment has brought all his star power to bear on the cause of equality, co-founding Stonewall and regularly speaking and writing on gay issues.


8. Martina Navratilova - former tennis player

Billie Jean King called her "the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player that ever lived". Her tennis achievements are unparalleled, but Navratilova is also a shining exception in the world of competitive sport, where many sportsmen and women still feel unable to come out. Since 1981 she's been open about her lesbianism and has spoken out repeatedly on behalf of LGBT rights. In short, she's an inspiration to young gay sports people around the globe.


9. Ellen DeGeneres - actor

Multi-Emmy-award-winning actor, writer, stand-up comedian and now talk show host, DeGeneres chose to make her eponymous sitcom mirror her life when her character came out to her therapist. "If they found out I was gay, maybe they wouldn't applaud," she reflected later. "Maybe they wouldn't laugh. Maybe they wouldn't like me if they knew that I was gay." She had no need to worry – people laughed. She has since spoken out against prejudice and bullying and last year was named a special envoy for global Aids awareness.


10. Clare Balding - sports presenter

A familiar face on UK TV screens, Balding is one of the BBC's best-loved and most knowledgeable sports presenters. But she's also a champion in her own right – before she moved into media, she was a leading amateur flat jockey. Now she fronts all the BBC's live racing coverage, including Royal Ascot and the Derby. In 2006 she entered into a civil partnership with radio newsreader Alice Arnold. As she told the Radio Times last year: "Personally, I'm a much better broadcaster for not hiding who I am. Not necessarily trumpeting it, but not hiding it."


11. Angela Eagle

Labour MP

This well-respected Labour politician has been MP for Wallasey since 1992. A minister under the Blair/Brown governments, Eagle was recently appointed shadow leader of the House of Commons when Ed Miliband reshuffled his shadow cabinet.

12. Don Lemon

US broadcast journalist

Lemon is author of Transparent, a memoir in which he wrote movingly about racism, homophobia and sexual abuse. He is currently working for CNN.

13. John Berry

Director, US OPM

As the director of the US Office of Personnel Management, Berry is responsible for the US federal government's 1.9 million employees. He is the highest-ranking gay official in the Obama administration – and in US history.

14. Billie Jean King

Former US tennis player

King was the first prominent professional athlete to come out as a lesbian. She is the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation, and owner of World Team Tennis. In 2009 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her LGBT rights advocacy.

15. Charlie Condou


Father of two and champion of gay parenting, Condou is best known for his role in Coronation Street as Marcus Dent, lover of Sean Tully, played by Antony Cotton. The programme carried the first soap storyline of same-sex parenting. Condou also has a regular column in the Guardian, The Three Of Us, where he writes about co-parenting with his partner, Cameron, and their friend Catherine.

16. Michael Cashman


Recently voted MEP of the year for justice and fundamental rights by his peers. Cashman, a co-founder of Stonewall, was an actor and is best known for his role as Colin in EastEnders, who was involved in the first gay kiss on a British soap. He registered his civil partnership with Paul Cottingham in 2006.

17. Peter Tatchell


A lifelong LGBT activist and agitator for equal rights, Tatchell tried a citizen's arrest on Robert Mugabe twice and was beaten up for his efforts. He received similar treatment from neo-Nazis when supporting the Gay Pride march in Moscow. He has stood as a candidate for the Labour and the Green parties.

18. Jane Hill

Broadcast journalist

Presenter and BBC newsreader Hill was outed by the press after she referred to her girlfriend in an in-house BBC magazine. She has worked on many high-profile stories, including the inauguration of Barack Obama. Hill recently presented the European diversity awards.

19. Chaz Bono

US writer/musician

Bono, child of superstars Sonny and Cher, underwent gender reassignment in 2010 and is now a transgender advocate and campaigner against the US Defense of Marriage Act. The documentary Becoming Chaz followed his reassignment. Bono was the first transgendered person to appear on US TV show Dancing with the Stars.

20. Elio Di Rupo

PM, Belgium

As well as being an openly gay leader in the European Union, Di Rupo is also the first Belgian prime minister of non-Walloon or Flemish descent and represents a massive change in the country's history.

21. Jóhanna Siguroardóttir

PM, Iceland

Siguroardóttir is the world's first lesbian premier. She has two children from a previous marriage but is now married to her female partner. Her government banned strip clubs and she is quoted as saying: "Nordic countries are leading the way on women's equality, recognising women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale."

22. Mark Palmer-Edgcumbe

Head of diversity, Google

Palmer-Edgcumbe is an LGBT champion involved in Google's Legalise Love campaign, which is aimed at countries where homosexuality is illegal. He is a trustee of the Kaleidoscope Trust and founder of The Inclusive Foundation, which supports LGBT youth in the UK. He also writes a diversity column for the Guardian.

23. Mary Kay Henry

US union activist

Henry was the first woman to lead the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She is dedicated to improving rights for LGBT people within unions and at work. Henry is co-founder of SEIU's Lavender caucus, a gay and lesbian group within the international union.

24. Emil Wilbekin


Wilbekin was editor-in-chief at Vibe magazine before he became editorial director/vice-president of brand development for Vibe Ventures. Known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of urban entertainment, Wilbekin became managing editor of lifestyle site in 2009.

25. Gareth Thomas

Former Welsh rugby captain

Thomas is one of the few sports stars to be openly gay. He is an advocate for LGBT rights in sport and supports many charities, including ChildLine. He received Stonewall's hero of the year award in 2010.

26. Graham Norton

TV and radio presenter

Norton is an award-winning BBC presenter whose outrageous questioning style has endeared him to straight and gay audiences alike. His verbal fluency is showcased on Radio 4's Just a Minute.

27. Sabrina McKenna

Justice supreme court of Hawaii

MacKenna is the first openly gay judge to serve on the Hawaii supreme court. She is one of six openly LGBT supreme court justices in the United States. McKenna and her partner Denise have three children.

28. Sue Perkins

Comedian, radio and TV presenter

Perkins began her career as half of double-act Mel and Sue on Channel 4's daytime show Light Lunch. She has written for French and Saunders and Ab Fab, as well as countless radio series. In 2008, Perkins conducted the BBC's Concert Orchestra in Hyde Park during the Last Night of the Proms after winning the BBC's Maestro competition.

29. Marci Bowers

US gynaecologist

Bowers has delivered more than 2,000 babies. She is also a pioneer in transgender surgery, being the first transsexual woman to perform sex reassignment. Before Bowers transitioned, she married and fathered three children. She still lives with her spouse.

30. Laura Doughty

Deputy CEO, Stonewall

Doughty has been instrumental in encouraging more lesbian involvement in Stonewall, and was a driving force behind the organisation's hugely successful 2012 London bus marketing campaign, Some People Are Gay. Get Over It! She is a columnist for leading lesbian magazine g3 and was runner-up in g3's reader awards for campaigner of the year.

31. Liz Bingham

Managing partner, Ernst & Young

As managing partner (of people and talent), Bingham is seeking to put more women and diverse ethnicities in the boardroom. She is quoted as saying: "Women typically have an ambiguous relationship with authority and power."

32. Antony Cotton


Through playing the gay character Sean Tully in Coronation Street and taking a pivotal role in a breakthrough gay-parenting storyline with fellow actor Charlie Condou, Cotton has done much to break down prejudice among the show's massive UK audience.

33. Chris Bryant


Bryant has been MP for Rhondda since 2001. He is a former minister for Europe and parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He and his partner, Jared Cranney, had the first civil partnership ceremony held in the Houses of Parliament.

34. Liz Sayce OBE

CEO, Disability Rights UK

Sayce is one of the UK's foremost authorities on disability issues. She spent eight years as policy director of Mind and, in the US, studied the impact of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Sayce has published many books on mental health, disability and social inclusion.

35. Neil Patrick Harris

Actor, musician, director

Best known for his role in Doogie Howser MD, the Emmy-award-winning Harris has also directed a production of Rent. He was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2010. Harris lives with his partner, David Burtka, and their two children.

36. Tom Ford

Fashion designer and film director

Feted for his success at Gucci, Ford went on to create his own Tom Ford label and recently directed the Oscar-nominated film A Single Man. He has a degree in architecture and has been with his partner, Richard Buckley, since 1986.

37. Ricky Martin


Martin has sold more than 30m albums worldwide. The global superstar and father of twin boys – born via a surrogate mother – came out in 2010. He is the founder of the Ricky Martin Foundation, a non-profit charity that works to end human trafficking.

38. Tim Gill

Founder of Quark

Gill is involved in advocacy for LGBT rights through his Gill Action Fund. His philanthropic work concerns itself with ending prejudice and injustice against the gay community. Gill is married to Scott Miller and they live in Denver, Colorado.

39. Randi Weingarten

President, AFT

Weingarten is an educator and an attorney, as well as president of the American Federation of Teachers. She has spent her life as an advocate of workers' rights and her legal background has endowed her with formidable negotiating skills.

40. Stephen Twigg


Shadow secretary of state for education, Twigg came to prominence when he unseated Michael Portillo in Enfield Southgate in the 1997 general election. He is a former general secretary of the Labour-affiliated political thinktank the Fabian Society and was the first openly gay president of the National Union of Students.

41. Anna Grodzka

Polish politician

Publisher and film-maker Grodzka is a respected politician and Europe's first known transsexual MP. She underwent gender reassignment in 2010 and is a member of the progressive Palikot's Movement party in Poland, which also has an openly gay MP.

42. Chad Griffin

US political strategist

The rate of suicide among gay teens was the motivation for Griffin's LGBT rights advocacy. In 2009 he founded the non-profit organisation American Foundation for Equal Rights and was one of many executive producers of the 2009 documentary, Outrage.

43. Alice Walker

US activist and author

Pulitzer prize-winning author on race and gender, Walker found world fame with her critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple, for which she won the national book award. It was also made into a Hollywood film.

44. Anton Hysén

Swedish Footballer

Hysén is an out gay footballer who plays in the Swedish third division for a club coached by his father. His two brothers are also footballers. Hysén came out in 2011 and is believed to be the only active professional footballer to do so since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

45. Sir Cameron Mackintosh


Mackintosh is famous for turning musicals such as Les Misérables and Cats into successful global theatrical productions. Openly gay, he is a patron of The Food Chain, a London-based HIV charity. He lives with his partner, photographer Michael Le Poer Trench.

46. Dee Rees

Writer and film maker

Rees directed Pariah, the story of a 17-year-old African-American coming to grips with her identity as a lesbian. This poignant, well-received film echoes Rees's own struggle with her sexuality and is considered inspirational material for those struggling to come out.

47. Sir Elton John


The rock singer-songwriter and global superstar tirelessly pours money and time into his Aids charity work. His son, Zachary, was born to a surrogate mum and John has suggested he plans to have another child with his partner, David Furnish.

48. Hope Powell CBE

England women's football coach

Powell is the first woman and out lesbian to obtain the top-level UEFA Pro Licence football coaching qualification. She has been inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame and was honoured with an OBE in 2002 and a CBE in the 2010 birthday honours.

49. Jessie J


Jessie J came out as bisexual in 2011. The singer-songwriter and judge on The Voice found success despite having a stroke aged just 18 – but she has said her illness had improved her art.

50. Rosalyn Taylor O'Neale

Diversity professional

O'Neale is a black American diversity professional, educator, business leader, motivator and professional speaker – and now an executive at Campbell's Soup. She is the author of 7 Keys 2 Success: Unlocking the Passion for Diversity, a practical roadmap to creating inclusive organisations.

51. Simon Hughes


The bisexual deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Bermondsey and Southwark has twice ran for the leadership of his party. He played an important role in stopping a gay man being deported to his homeland Iran, where he faced execution.

52. John Partridge


Partridge is an openly gay TV and stage actor, who is most famous for his role as Christian Clarke in EastEnders. Partridge also presents the national lottery TV show.

53. Michael Salter

Tory adviser

Salter was senior adviser to the Tory party in opposition. He is now PR and broadcasting strategist and Downing Street adviser to David Cameron, providing advice to the Conservatives on gay issues.

54. Eileen Gallagher

Television producer

Gallagher co-founded Shed Productions in 1998 with Maureen Chadwick. The company is famous for making some of British television's most popular dramas, such as Bad Girls, Footballers' Wives and Waterloo Road.

55. Maureen Chadwick


Chadwick is co-founder of Shed Productions. She is also a prolific soap opera scriptwriter, with credits that include Coronation Street, EastEnders and Eldorado.

56. Anthony Watson

Technology head, Barclays

Watson is chair of Barclays Retail and Business Banking Technology's Diversity and Inclusion Council.

57. Claire Harvey

Paralympian volleyball player

Sportswoman and Team GB's Paralympian volleyball star, Harvey is also involved in the management of the Great Britain deaf women's football team.

58. Margeurite McLaughlin

CEO, Metro Centre

Through her work at a sexual health and wellbeing clinic, the Metro Centre in Greenwich, McLaughlin helps to provide support and services for the LGBT community.

59. Larry Kramer


As well as being an LGBT activist, Kramer is a Pulitzer prize finalist, famous for his screenplay of Women in Love and his book, Faggots.

60. Ruth Davidson


As leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party, Davidson is the first openly gay party leader in Britain. She has pledged to campaign to beat the ban on same-sex marriage.

61. Urvashi Vaid


Indian-American LGBT activist Vaid won a Stonewall award for her book, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation. She was executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Task Force.

62. Jodie Foster


Along with her two Oscars, Foster has won three Baftas and two Golden Globe awards, a Screen Actors Guild award, a People's Choice award, and has received two Emmy nominations. She has two sons.

63. Anthony Romero

Director, ACLU

Romero is the American Civil Liberties Union's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity.

64. Tim Hely Hutchinson

CEO, Hachette

Hutchinson is the younger son of the eighth Earl of Donoughmore and the CEO of the UK's largest publisher.

65. Jane Hazlegrove


Hazlegrove plays lesbian paramedic Dixie in Casualty. She has also appeared in London's Burning, Families, Coronation Street and many other popular dramas.

66. Alan Duncan


Tory MP for Rutland and Melton. Duncan has been openly gay since 2002 and is currently minister for state, Department for International Development.

67. Cleve Jones

US activist

Jones is an activist for LGBT rights and people with Aids. He founded the Names project, the memorial quilt for people who have died as a result of Aids.

68. Joe Solmonese

Political activist

Former Human Rights Campaign president Solmonese developed the political opportunity programme to promote electable women candidates into politics. He is now one of 35 national - co-chairs for Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

69. Lord John Browne

Former CEO, BP

Browne was outed by the Mail on Sunday in 2007. He has written about his own sexuality and coming out in general.

70. Margot James


James is vice-chairman of the Conservative party, the first openly lesbian Tory MP in history.

71. Sir Paul Jenkins KCB


Chief executive and permanent secretary of the Treasury Solicitor's Department since 2006, Jenkins is Britain's most senior openly gay civil servant.

72. Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

MD, UK Black Pride

Founder and managing director of UK Black Pride, Opoku-Gyimah was nominated woman of the year at the black LGBT community awards 2007.

73. Beatrix Campbell OBE


Leftwing intellectual feminist, broadcaster and author of Wigan Pier Revisited.

74. Ashley Steel

City adviser

Steel is a board member at management services company KPMG and at WLWB, which seeks to help the long-term unemployed.

75. Claudia Brind-Woody

IBM executive

Brind-Woody is the vice-president and managing director of IBM's intellectual property business. She has held significant roles in US LGBT rights groups.

76. Neil Bentley

Deputy director-general, CBI

Bentley represents the CBI nationally and internationally and is a champion of boardroom diversity.

77. Heather Peace


British actor and musician, with roles in Casualty, Holby City, Coronation Street and Lip Service. Peace is a patron of Manchester Pride and the Diversity Role Models charity.

78. Jonny Oates


As chief of staff to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, Oates is one of the most influential Liberal Democrats.

79. Paul Burston


Burston is editor of the gay section of London listings magazine Time Out and author of several books.

80. Shannon Minter


Minter became a trans man at 35. He is a US civil rights lawyer and the legal director of the National Centre for Lesbian Rights.

81. Walter Shubert

Founder, Gay Financial Network

First out-gay member of the New York stock exchange and founder of the Gay Financial Network, which campaigns against discrimination in business.

82. Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell

Founders, NGLCC

Founders of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which acts as a link between LGBT business owners, corporations and government.

83. Julie Bindel


Feminist journalist and Guardian contributor. Bindel is co-founder of the group Justice for Women, which opposes violence against women.

84. Fiona Shaw CBE


Actor who has starred and directed in many theatrical productions. Shaw is possibly best known for her role as Mrs Dursley in Harry Potter.

85. Iain Dale

Political commentator

In 2003 Dale became the first openly gay Conservative parliamentary candidate. He is a frequent political commentator.

86. Louie Spence

TV personality

Artistic director at Pineapple Dance Studios, Spence is a TV personality, choreographer and producer-director of musical theatre. Currently a judge on ITV's Dancing on Ice.

87. Sandi Toksvig

Writer and broadcaster

Presenter and regular panellist on many TV and radio shows, including Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Also author of several books for children and adults.

88. Alan Carr


Presenter and regular panellist on many TV and radio shows, including Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Also author of several books for children and adults. Hugely successful chatshow host and award-winning standup comedian. Carr has also presented a number of radio shows.

89. Daniel Winterfeldt


US securities lawyer who is head of CMS's International Capital Markets group.

90. Debbie Gupta

Director of policy, GEO

Director of policy at the Government Equalities Office and author of The Business Case for the Economic Empowerment of Women.

91. Ceri Goddard

CEO, Fawcett Society

In her professional capacity, Goddard campaigns for the equality of women at all levels of society.

92. John Yates-Harold

Deputy headteacher

Yates-Harold is a progressive educator based at the Jenny Hammond primary school, east London, and an early pioneer of Stonewall's anti-bullying work in schools.

93. Julian Glover

Columnist and speechwriter

Former Guardian leader writer who was recently appointed speechwriter to David Cameron. Civil partner of Times columnist Matthew Parris.

94. Mark Gatiss

Actor, writer, broadcaster

Famous for The League of Gentleman and other darkly comic shows, Gatiss lives with his civil partner Ian.

95. Christopher Bailey

Fashion designer

Award-winning designer, creative director at Burberry and the co-founder of the Burberry Foundation, which invests in charities focused on supporting young people.

96. Nick Forbes

Labour councillor

Forbes has been a councillor since he was 26 and is now the Labour leader for Newcastle city council.

97. Denise Marshall

CEO, Eaves

Marshall's charity, Eaves, helps victims of violence and sex trafficking. She returned her OBE in protest at the budget cuts.

98. Lee Daniels

Producer and director

Oscar-winning producer and director of Precious and Monster's Ball.

99. Alice Arnold


Broadcaster, presenter and Radio 4 newsreader, Arnold is civil partner of sports presenter Clare Balding.

100. Rodney Berman


Ex-Liberal Democrat leader of Cardiff council. Berman is an openly gay politician and the first winner of the local politician of the year award.



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