In light of LGBTQ+ History Awareness Month, we wanted to share some of the Scottish figures and influencers championing LGBTQ+ rights, catalysing change in policy and celebrating all identities, genders and sexual orientation as equal.
Alan Cumming is rightly known for his incredible acting and theatrical performances. Less is said about the Scottish thespian’s campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights, nor the generous donations raised for organisations such as the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The first to hold an LGBT Gala at the United Nations, Alan holds over 40 awards for his LGBTQ+ activism work. More recently, his book Baggage highlights how he came to terms with his sexual identity.
Described as a “queer icon since the late 90s” Cumming’s bold and shameless approach to his sexual identity has paved the way for generations after him.
Otherwise known as the “Kilted Yogi”, Finlay Wilson has quite literally made a name for himself by conducting seriously impressive yoga poses in a kilt.
In addition to showcasing some incredible moves, Finlay also inspired us by proposing to his now-husband during a Pride parade in Washington DC, 4 years after gay marriage was fully legalised in the USA. Sticking with this theme, the couple made sure to reference the importance of Pride in their marriage ceremony.
Finlay has been known to speak out about the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people. Having been subject to homosexual abuse and hate mail, the yogi discussed the experience with the BBC, bravely drawing attention to the homophobia in the UK.
Ru Paul’s Drag Race has taken the world by storm, and so has the UK series season 2 winner, Lawrence Chaney. An outstanding performer, comic and artist, Chaney has gone on to win a BAFTA and appeared in Irn Bru’s latest ad campaign.
The drag queen has publicly shared their struggles coming to terms with their gender identity, describing themselves as gender-fluid. This candid honesty from a successful Scottish performer is powerful for others going through similar experiences, and crucially, shines a light on a topic that is often difficult to discuss.
Now on a live tour with their co-stars, Lawrence Chaney continues to challenge gender binaries with the glamour and attitude they are known for.
An Aberdeen-born comedian, Grant Martin is widely known for his humorous and inspiring vlogs. But it was last year on BBC’s social media channel, The Social, that Grant addressed a serious issue in the LGBTQ+ community.
Grant spoke openly and honestly about the conflict between his identity as a homosexual and his relationship to the Church, exposing a religious intolerance to his sexual orientation. By doing so, Grant has raised awareness for a common issue among LGBTQ+ people trying to negotiate their sexual identity with their faith. His decision to publicly shine a light on this experience encourages others to speak out and ultimately create change.
Scottish-Rwandan actor Ncuti shot to fame in the Netflix series Sex Education, where he plays Eric, a gay teen who works out a plan with friends to make money by running an in-school sex therapy business. The role gained him two nominations in the MTV movie awards, for Best Breakthrough Performance and for Best Kiss. Sex Education has been praised by the LGBTQ+ community for its diverse representation and nuanced storytelling, and Ncuti said in an interview in Pink News: “It’s very important to see a black gay teen represented… because being a minority within a minority is an extremely difficult thing.”
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