9 LGBT+ icons in Wales
Happy LGBT+ history month! February is LGBT+ History Month. It is marked annually to celebrate and remember LGBT + rights and related civil right movements.
The aim is to fight prejudice against the LGBT+ community and falls on February to coincide with the abolition of the anti-LGBT+ Section 28 legislation in Westminster back in 2003.
To mark this special month, Plaid Cymru in conjunction with our LGBT+ section Plaid Pride, have looked at some of Wales’ LGBT+ icons – past and present.
1. Jan Morris
Jan Morris was a prolific travel writer, journalist, and novelist.
She was a bestselling author of more than forty books including a notable trilogy about Britain's empire, Pax Britannica, and is remembered as transgender pioneer – breaking barriers with her 1974 book Conundrum which detailed her transition journey.
She died aged 94 – poignantly on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
2. Terrence Higgins
Terry Higgins from Haverfordwest left his hometown for London in the 1970s. He was a Hansard reporter, barman and DJ.
After suffering from an undiagnosed illness in 1982, Terry became one of the first people in the UK to die of an AIDS-related illness at the age of 37.
The charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, was set up by his partner and close friends. It has since gone on to become Europe’s largest HIV non-governmental organisation and Terry, the lively and friendly Welshman from Haverfordwest, has become the symbol of the grassroots activism that began the transformation of HIV from the tabloids’ ‘gay plague’ to today’s treatable condition – and stands as a sobering contrast to the government’s inaction at the time.
3. Russell T Davies
Russell T Davies, is a Welsh screenwriter and television producer from Swansea whose works include Queer as Folk, Doctor Who, Years & Years, The Second Coming, Casanova, and It’s a Sin. Russell T Davies’s contribution to LGBT+ representation on screen is immeasurable. His most recent offering, five-part series It’s a Sin which premiered on Channel 4 in January this year, received critical acclaim with high praise for its depiction of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.
Russell T Davies also said he believes that LGBTQ+ history should be included in the new Welsh curriculum saying, “I don’t believe in a separate section – hiving us off into a pink corner. I think it is just part of history. It needs doing and it will be done with people like us making it happen.”
4. Jess Fishlock
Jessica Fishlock is a Welsh professional footballer and coach who plays for Readin and our national team. She is Wales’ most-capped footballer and when she won her winner’s medal with Lyon in 2019, she celebrated with a Welsh flag draped over her shoulders.
Jess says she knew she was a lesbian at the age of 12, and was bullied at school for her sexuality. In December last year, she was named to the Stonewall Sports Champion Team.
5. Abderrahim El Habachi
A gay asylum seeker from Morrocco, Rahim has done incredible and vital work in connecting the LGBT+ community through activism and art.
An HIV positive activist and campaigner, Rahim is also a committee member of Glitter Cymru, a Cardiff-based BAME LGBT+ organisation.
Rahim continues to apply pressure to the Home Office to ensure that asylum seekers are treated fairly and equally.
6. Norena Shopland
Norena is an expert when it comes to LGBT+ history in Wales. She’s the author of the book ‘Forbidden Lives’ which is the first completely historical work on Welsh sexual orientation and gender identity which culminated in Welsh Pride, the first exhibition focusing exclusively on Wales’ LGBT+ people, allies and events.
Norena is currently working with Race Council Cymru on a Windrush Cymru project and with the Big Pit museum on the very first exhibition of Welsh women miners.
7. Adam Price
Ok, we couldn’t resist! This list wouldn’t be complete without an honourable mention to Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price - the first out politician to lead a Welsh political party.
Adam has often spoken about how the miners' strike helped him find a bridge between being gay and living in a coal mining valley.
He said, “It was a very, very challenging time, growing up as a gay man, the son of a miner, working class community. You’ve seen the film Pride, you’ve seen a bit of my life story. London’s gay and lesbian supporting miners came down to my hometown that was the first time that I met out gay men and women, and it gave me a sense of hope because even in these dark times of negativity there is progress, it does get better.”
8. Sophie Quinney
Dr Sophie Quinney of the Welsh Gender Service is the first GP to specialise in gender identity medicine in Wales. An out and proud lesbian, Dr Quinney has dedicated herself to trans issues affecting the heart of the community. She trains GPs across Wales to ensure trans patients are treated as equals.
Sophie has also campaigned for better health care for asylum seekers and other migrants.
Tayce is a Welsh drag queen from Newport best known for competing on the second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. As well as being in absolute awe of Tayce’ outfits (especially the dragon one), we’re rooting for them and wishing Tayce the best of luck with the rest of the series.