June is Pride month; the month we celebrate LGBTQIA+ communities across the globe.  

June is dedicated to Pride as it’s the month that the Stonewall Riots took place in the US, in 1969. The protests were a pivotal moment in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, where several figures played crucial roles, including transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Events are held all around the world throughout June to bring people together in celebration of love, friendship, acceptance, equality, and freedom — to be proud of who you are, no matter who you love.

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex and asexual, with the ‘+’ meaning ‘more’, to represent the full spectrum of identities.

It’s a month to reflect on the progress and ongoing work for LGBTQIA+ rights, and to celebrate the people who have been instrumental in driving the movement forward, devoting their lives to campaigning for change, and educating on LGBTQIA+ issues and its history.

Here, we spotlight five leaders and change-makers who have been at the forefront of advocating for LGBTQIA+ equality and inclusion in the UK…

1. Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell is one of the most prominent and long-standing LGBTQIA+ activists in the UK. His activism began in the early 1970s, and he has been a relentless advocate for human rights ever since.

Tatchell co-founded the direct action group OutRage! in 1990, which was known for its bold and provocative campaigns. He has consistently worked to challenge homophobia and campaign for equal rights, including same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws.

Tatchell’s influence extends beyond the UK; he has been involved in international human rights work, often putting himself at risk to support LGBTQ+ communities worldwide. 

2. Munroe Bergdorf

Munroe Bergdorf (source: Instagram: @munroebergdorf)

Munroe Bergdorf is a model, writer, and activist who has become a powerful voice for transgender rights and racial justice.

As a transgender Black woman, Bergdorf has used her platform to address intersectional issues affecting marginalised communities. She gained national attention when she was dismissed from a major beauty campaign for speaking out against systemic racism, which led to widespread support and furthered her activism.

Bergdorf’s advocacy extends to public speaking, writing, and working with organisations like the UN Women UK. Her efforts have been instrumental in raising awareness about the unique challenges faced by transgender individuals and promoting inclusivity and diversity in all spheres of life.

3. Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Lady Phyll, as she’s commonly known, is the co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride, an organisation dedicated to celebrating LGBTQIA+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American descent. Her work has been crucial in creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color and addressing the unique challenges they face.

In addition to her role with UK Black Pride, Lady Phyll is a respected trade unionist and a powerful advocate for social justice. She has been instrumental in highlighting the intersectionality of race and sexuality, and her work continues to inspire and empower marginalised communities.

We interviewed her as part of International Women’s Day 2022.

WATCH: As one of the most influential figures in the British LGBT+ community, Lady Phyll discusses breaking the bias, intersectionality and what led her to start UK Black Pride.

4. Ruth Hunt

Ruth Hunt served as the Chief Executive of Stonewall, the largest LGBTQIA+ rights organisation in Europe, from 2014 to 2019. Under her leadership, Stonewall expanded its focus to include issues affecting the transgender community and launched campaigns to tackle homophobia in schools, workplaces, and sports.

Hunt’s tenure at Stonewall was marked by significant progress in the legal and social acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the UK. She has been a leading figure in advocating for policy changes and promoting a more inclusive society. Hunt’s strategic vision and dedication have left a lasting impact on the organization’s work and the broader LGBTQ+ movement.

5. Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander, the lead singer of the band Years & Years, is not only a successful musician but also a passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and mental health awareness. Alexander has been open about his experiences as a gay man and has used his platform to address issues such as homophobia, mental health stigma, and HIV awareness.

Through his music, public speaking, and documentary work, Alexander has become a relatable and influential figure for many young LGBTQIA+ people. His candid discussions about mental health and his efforts to destigmatise these conversations have made a significant impact on how these issues are perceived within and beyond the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

About the Stonewall Riots

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 were a pivotal event in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, marking a major turning point in the fight for equality and acceptance.

In the 1960s, LGBTQIA+ individuals faced widespread discrimination and harassment. Homosexuality was illegal in many parts of the US, and public displays of affection between same-sex couples could lead to arrest. LGBTQIA+ bars and clubs were often the only safe spaces for people to express their identities openly, but these establishments were frequently raided by police. The Stonewall Inn, in New York City, was one such bar.

On the early morning of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, intending to shut it down. Unlike previous raids, this one sparked resistance. The patrons of the bar, tired of constant harassment and discrimination, fought back against the police. The situation escalated, with a crowd gathering outside the bar. The confrontation turned into a riot that lasted for several nights, with LGBTQIA+ individuals standing up against the authorities.

Marsha P. Johnson was an African American transgender-rights activist.

Several figures played crucial roles during the riots, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both of whom were prominent transgender activists. Their bravery and leadership during the Stonewall Riots helped galvanise the movement.

Aftermath and impact

One year after the riots, on June 28, 1970, the first Pride marches were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. These marches have since evolved into annual Pride celebrations held worldwide, promoting visibility, acceptance, and the ongoing fight for LGBTQIA+ equality.

The Stonewall Riots are often regarded as the birth of the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. They symbolise resistance against oppression and the struggle for acceptance and equality, and remind us of the power of collective action and standing up for one’s rights.

 

Our upcoming programme

HIV: Towards Zero by 2030’ will explore reducing the stigma and improving preventative measures, but also the advances in treatment and the support available, allowing those living with HIV, to lead full lives.

Launching on World AIDS Day, 1st December 2024, the programme will feature contributions from industry thought leaders including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the National AIDS Trust and the Terrence Higgins Trust. The programme will also show how far treatments and services have come since the first AIDS related death over 40 years ago and those organisations addressing global health inequalities, working to end new transmissions by 2030.

There are commercial opportunities for leading organisations to be featured in the programme and spearhead their own news item. If your organisation wants to share what you stand for and be part of this important conversation, please contact ITN Business’ Head of Healthcare Programming, Georgia Gerstein.