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Voted the Greatest Briton by BBC viewers in 2019, Alan Turing OBE is probably the quintessential example of this country’s attitude to homosexuality up until very recent times.
A mathematical genius, and probably on the autistic spectrum, Alan’s heroic work on deciphering the Nazi Enigma Codes to shorten World War II is well known. But perhaps fewer people realise that after the war, when gay men were demonised on both sides of the Atlantic during the so-called ‘Lavender Scare’ he was hounded so much for his sexuality that he submitted himself for aversion and chemical therapy rather than be imprisoned, eventually taking his own life.
It was not until 2005 that Gordon Brown apologised on behalf of the nation.
Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah also known as Lady Phyll is a British political activist, co-founder of UK Black Pride, executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust and patron of Schools OUT UK.
She has raised the issue of racism in the LGBT community and spoken about the importance of intersectionality.
She is considered one of Britain's most prominent lesbian activists.
Ashton Attzs is a queer, black, Lutonian based-artist. Their paintings and illustrations are a vehicle to empower the everyday person.
From the dreamy blues, to the cotton-candy pinks popping against their charmingly distinctive, racially and gender-diverse animated characters.
Their work is bold, joyful and unapologetic both in style and message.
To date, Attzs has been commissioned by the likes of Instagram, Red Nose Day,Tate, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Universal Music to name but a few. In 2018, Attzs won the coveted Evening Standard Art Prize: for their painting of transgender swimmers, “Don’t Stay In Ya Lane”.
Ashton is the creative genius behind this years Pride in Luton poster
Tony Fenwick was CEO of Schools OUT UK, a small but important education charity set up for and by LGBT+ teachers with the aim of making our schools more inclusive institutions. Their main initiative was the establishment of LGBT+ History Month in February 2005.
Tony, though not Lutonian by birth, settled and lived here for over 20 years until his death in July 2020 at the age of just 60. A passionate teacher and trade unionist, he was awarded an MBE for services to education in 2016.
Tony once said, with characteristically quiet understatement, “Same-sex desire and gender variance have always existed, in all times and in all places.”
Munroe Bergdorf is an English model and activist. She was the first transgender model in the UK for L'Oréal and has worked as an LGBT adviser to the Labour Party.
Bergdorf appeared in the Channel 4 documentary What Makes A Woman, aired in May 2018. Munroe won ‘Changemaker of the Year’ at the 2018 Cosmopolitan Awards and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Brighton.
She joined UN Women UK in 2019 aiming to put a stop to female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Rainbow Flag has been the symbol of the LGBT+ movement since it was created by Gilbert Baker back in 1978. A close friend of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, Gilbert was asked to create something unifying for that year’s San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
Perhaps unconsciously, Gilbert espoused the idea of intersectionality in his belief that “Our sexuality is all of the colours. We are all of the genders, races and ages.”
His original flag consisted of eight stripes rather than six, representing sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art, harmony and spirit.
The various iterations and evolutions of Gilbert’s original concept will feature highly in Luton’s inaugural Pride.
After a high-flying career as one of first £1,000,000 professional player in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Justin’s career stalled when his sexual orientation came to light. In 1990 he took the courageous step of coming out publicly but this resulted in abuse from the crowds at matches, and tabloid stalking. The culmination of this public ruination was an accusation of assault and, like Alan Turing, suicide.
It has been over 30 years since Justin came out and he was the first player to have come out while playing professionally. He was followed in May 2022 by Blackpool FC striker Jake Daniels.
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was founded in October 1970 by Bob Mellors And Aubrey Walters after travelling to the USA and encountering the American Gay Liberation Front at the Black Panther Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention in post-Stonewall Philadelphia (1970).
Though it's time as a political collective was short, the impact of GLF, through newspapers, acts of solidarity with other oppressed groups, pamphlets, phone lines, discos, demonstrations, communes, street theatre and marches, lasted long after it stopped organising in late 1973.
Generations of people in the UK would come to understand their oppression by society through the work of GLF.
Jaymi Hensley is a Lutonian and a member of the boy group Union J.
The band formed in 2011, originally as a trio known as Triple J, consisting of Cuthbert, Hamblett and Hensley. They auditioned for the ninth series of the British television music competition The X Factor where they met Shelley who joined the band at the judges' request. They finished fourth and were subsequently signed to Sony Music subsidiary RCA Records.
Their debut single "Carry You" was released in June 2013. Their self-titled debut studio album followed in October 2013 and peaked at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart.
On 31 January 2022 Union J confirmed they would be reforming to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were self proclaimed trans women and vibrant, indelible figures in Greenwich Village street life. The women were prominent figures in the Stonewall Uprisings, but their efforts were even more enduring, with the uprisings being just part of their unending commitment to social justice.
They emerged from the events that took place at Stonewall in 1969 as leaders in the Gay Liberation Movement. Together they helped found the group STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), which offered housing to homeless and transgender youth, a particularly vulnerable population
Former Northampton North Labour MP and gender rights campaigner, Maureen Colquhoun, made history as Britain’s first openly lesbian politician.
Maureen Colquhoun served in Parliament as an MP from 1974 to 1979. During this time she became known as a supporter of gender-based protections such as abortion, gender balance, and rights for sex workers.
During Colquhoun’s time as a politician, she was a minority in the political field as there were fewer than 30 female MPs in Parliament.
Shortly after it was revealed the MP was in a relationship with a woman, Colquhoun had difficulty fighting off to deselect her in 1979.
At the time, Colquhoun addressed the situation in a Gay News interview saying her sexuality and identity has “nothing whatever to do with my ability to do my job as an MP”.
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