2023 marks the 51st anniversary of a Pride march in the UK. (Image: Teddy O/Unsplash)
Ever since it was established in 2005 as part of a project to ensure schools are safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people, February marks LGBT History Month.
Each year, organisations, publications, and businesses promote and celebrate LGBTQ+ history and the steps made towards equality.
More and more people are taking part in learning about this history and what it took to get to where we are today when it comes to widespread support and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people, while understanding that the UK still has some ways to go when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Many of those milestones, such as marriage equality, were achieved through active campaigning, protest, and legislation but it’s important to note that the many momentous achievements of the LGBTQ+ community happened within pop culture rather than in parliament.
Literature, music, sport, TV, and movies are all avenues for LGBTQ+ to express themselves and have historically paved the way for another year of celebration for the community.
2004 – Nadia Almada is the first trans contestant to compete in and win Big Brother
Three years after Dowling’s win, Nadia Almada was the first-ever trans person to become a Big Brother housemate, and later went on to win the show with 74 per cent of the final vote.
Almada chose not to reveal her gender identity to her housemates at the time but the viewing public were informed.
She won £63,500 from Big Brother and presenter Davina McCall said Almada was her favourite housemate of all time.
2009 – Stephen Fry publicises Grindr on Top Gear
Actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, who is publicly out as gay and has been married to his partner Elliott Spencer since 2010, once caused extreme controversy when he showcased gay dating app Grindr on BBC’s Top Gear.
In 2009, Fry appeared on the show as its “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” and explained the intricacies of Grindr to Jeremy Clarkson and the show’s global audience of 350 million viewers.
CEO and founder of Grindr Joel Simkhai previously told PinkNews Fry’s impact on the app was “instant”, leading to an increase of users by 50 per cent.
2010 – Channel 4’s Hollyoaks features storyline following a teenage trans character
Channel 4’s Hollyoaks was the first British soap to feature a storyline involving a transgender teen.
Actor Victoria Atkin played transgender teen Jason Costello, the first character in the soap to experience gender dysphoria.
He was originally introduced as Jasmine but eventually revealed that he wishes to be known as Jason, with storylines including his journey through transitioning and his relationship with Bart McQueen (Jonny Clarke).
Atkin left the soap a year later, with her character leaving Chester for America.
2014 – Asifa Lahore becomes the first Muslim drag queen
In 2014, Lahore became the first Muslim drag queen and was catapulted into the spotlight after she was prevented from discussing Islam and homosexuality on the BBC discussion show Free Speech by Birmingham Central Mosque.
The subsequent uproar allowed Lahore to speak freely about the subject and later featured in the Channel 4 documentary Muslim Drag Queens, narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.
Lahore’s website states she is a “proud transgender woman” that is “pushing the boundaries of what it means to be LGBT, South Asian, and Muslim”.
2014 – Matthew Warchus’ Pride saves queer bookshop
The critically acclaimed film Pride, directed by Matthew Warchus, is based on the true story of a group of queer activists who raised funds to help those participating in the British miners’ strike of 1984.
Heartstopper is an adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel of the same name, which follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) whose friendship turns romantic as Nick questions his sexuality.
The show is set in a British school and shows teenagers dealing with queer love, identity, friendship, bullying, and homophobia.