Gay, Young and Proud LGBTQ+ Role Models

The BGL LGBTQ+ Young Role Models List 2019

For national student pride week, we are celebrating some of the most influential, interesting LGBTQ+ teens and twenty somethings around. This week is youth week here at Best Gay Life. After all, children are our future. Treat them well and all that…

Joking aside, I hadn’t heard of national students pride until I stumbled across it during a recent research mission. I’m sure that plenty of you might not heard of it either and that is a travesty. When you delve a little deeper into their work it is glaringly obvious that what they do is very significant.

In 2019 National Student Pride will have been running for 14 years. Now hosted in London, over the years they have travelled the nation from a humble beginning. It was formed in response to an extremist group seeking to impose their bigoted beliefs on campus in Oxford. How topical is that right now?

The organisation describes themselves as the pride of conversation and one of few safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to discuss issues close to all of our hearts. Taboos we know we should be talking about.

Their first event at Oxford Brookes University in 2005 was a response to the Christian Union’s ‘Homosexuality and Bible’ talk. The talk was by a trainee vicar with the Christian Union and was ill-informed, bigoted and homophobic. In response, National Student Pride was set up to create a fair debate that included progressive voices such as a vicar and a rabbi who spoke on how being gay and religion really sat. The Christian Union’s event portrayed anyone lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender as born immoral and deficient. National Student Pride, however, believes faith and sexuality can sit side by side to fight discrimination and prejudice together.

National Student Pride continues this mantra today hosting the event at the University of Westminster. They bring conversations to campus, to challenge bigoted views and inspire community cohesion. They give an important platform to the younger member of our community.

Providing an important platform for young LGBTQ+ people

National Student Pride has grown exponentially since they began and especially since moving to London. In previous years the event has been held in Oxford, Manchester, and spent many great years in Brighton.

University is the time that many young people find their tribe. What better way to help these young LGBTQ+ people use that connection in a positive powerful way. It’s not just for students, all are welcome to celebrate the week. The reach of this group over the years has grown and as well as being that arena for debate they do much more;  to be a networked community, linking students, graduates, and LGBT+ friendly employers; propelling the next generation of voices, activists and minds where they can be heard and celebrated; promoting an atmosphere of tolerance, opportunity and innovation by allowing room for debate and discussion; to be a safe space to allow for growth in confidence, socialising and education.

To top it all the event this week is a right good knees up. This year at the big events of the week they have the recent RuPaul Drag Race winner Trinity The Tuck at Heaven and the big stage event is Strictly Queer. The later choice being a poignant one when you hear why these chose this competition theme. In the words of Student Pride “If the BBC aren’t going to allow same-sex dance couples on their TV show, we will.”

To find information or buy tickets for any parts of this event check out http://www.studentpride.co.uk/

The BGL Young LGBTQ+ Role Models of the Year 2019

Nicola Adams (Olympic Boxer) 

We all know Nicola Adams as one of the poster children of Team GB’s greatest ever Olympics in 2012.  Nicola has been vocal about her sexuality and has spoken publicly about the challenges of being a woman of colour and a young bisexual female.

Nicola Adams also shared her story of coming out. This impressive athlete recently told GQ magazine that she was terrified in the lead up to telling her mum she was bisexual. The Olympian told GQ: “It took a lot of courage… I knew one other person in my school who was the same and we talked. We hadn’t come out and we were thinking, ‘What is the best approach? How do I tell my mum?’” She continued: “Mum was in the kitchen washing up and I was like, ‘I’ve got something to tell you’… I was really sweating, and she says, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I was just like, ‘I’m bisexual.’ And she was like, ‘OK, put the kettle on.’ She said she kind of already knew.” 

Nicola is a proud and strong young black member of our community who talks honestly and openly. In our eyes that makes more than worthy to be on the BGL Young LGBTQ+ role models list of 2019.

Charlie Craggs (Manicurist With a Difference)

Charlie is 25-year-old manicurist from west London. I can almost see your puzzled faces. This is a list for role models I hear you cry. Charlie’s words explain better than I could.

“I want people to go away with more than just a manicure, I want them to go away an ally. I’m trying to change hearts and minds a nail at a time.”

Charlie is an activist with a difference and is an absolute breath of fresh air

As the founder of Nail Transphobia, Charlie fights transphobia by taking her pop-up nail salon to festivals, galleries and museums around the country, giving customers the chance to speak directly to a trans person.

Charlie so impressive she got the attention of Vogue, was ranked number one on the Observer’s 2016 New Radicals list. The Guardian and Independent also named her one of the most influential and inspirational LGBT person in the UK.

Not being content with having her own business, fighting for rights (fighting with the heart of course) she has now gone on to pen her own publication. To My Trans Sisters is a compilation of essays – edited by this incredible young woman- written as words of advice from a range of women from politicians and musicians to models. It’s filled with thought pieces, comic muses and powerful heartfelt statements. This is one novel that you must read and one powerful female that you need to keep watching!

Tyler Oakley (The thinking man’s, or woman’s, Instagramming Sensation)

Oakley preaches positivity and authenticity daily to his millions of social media followers. But 2015 was the year he proved his versatility. From his New York Times best-selling book Binge; the acclaimed podcast Psychobabble; to his documentary, Snervous Tyler wowed us. Between hosting red carpets at the Grammys and Oscars, competing on The Amazing Race, and gracing sky-high billboards, he has a face you might already know.  

Michael Sam (American Footballer)

Here in the UK there still are still many hurdles to jump in many areas of sport, most predominantly in Football. There are endless stories of gay supporters and footballers alike hearing homophobic chants at a match. Currently there are currently no out premiership footballers in the UK, and this is probably a significant contributing factor. That is why there is many young LGBTQ+ sportspeople on our list and one of the reasons we salute Michael Sam by welcoming him to join the other role models we are celebrating this week.

Even though he was cut from the Dallas Cowboys, Michael Sam continues to be a source of LGBT visibility. Off the field, the first openly gay NFL draftee proposed to his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, while on vacation in Italy. Now, as the two men prepare for their wedding, Sam refined his dance moves on Dancing With the Stars, and he was scheduled to appear in the NFL’s first veteran combine in March.

Tom Daley (Olympic Diver)

Thomas Robert Daley looks damn fine in Speedos on the front of attitude magazine and is a British diver that we all loved watching at the 2012 Olympics, where he won the bronze. He specialises in the 10-metre platform event and is a double world champion in the event; he won the 2009 FINA World Championship in the individual event at the age of 15, before regaining it in 2017. Daley also competes in synchronised and team events. In 2015, he partnered Rebecca Gallantree to the inaugural mixed team World title, while in 2016 he won a second Olympic bronze in the men’s in the men’s synchronised 10-metre platform, with Daniel Goodfellow.

I was lucky enough to meet him last year at the London LGBT Switchboard event as the lucky guest of BGL ally and bestselling young adult author Lisa Williamson. This is just one of the LGBTQ+ charities he supports (quite quietly) and I remember being touched by just how committed he was to his philanthropy. Welcome to the list Tom.

Troye Sivan (Musician, YouTube Star, Award Winner And Actor) 

The 23-year-old star came out on YouTube in 2013, and has since been a proud LGBT+ advocate. This South African-born Australian singer/songwriter also helped a gay fan to propose to his boyfriend on stage at his concert. Troye has won two GLAAD awards and proudly exhibited his sexuality, for instance by releasing “Bloom,” his song about gay sex, earlier this year.

Matt Palazzolo (Young Gay Rights Activist And Actor)

This next entry on to our list is by a young man that had achieved so much. He would have undoubtedly continued to win more rights for our community but was taken from us. Matt Palazzolo died tragically while hiking in the Australian outback last year. We dedicate this entry on our list to the loving memory of Matt Palazzolo. Matt was well-known West Hollywood resident and activist in the LGBTQ community who fought passionately for our rights. The best tribute to him comes in the words of his father.

Dear family and friends,
“There were times when I reacted with resentment when people acted or spoke badly towards or about my son Matt because of his sexuality. But he seemed to always react with compassion, love and understanding.
“He told me once that everybody has their own timetable for understanding what they previously didn’t understand.
“But he was also a determined advocate for gay rights, determined to bring awareness and knowledge to those who didn’t yet have it.

Thank you Matt for fighting our fight. Here is a video tribute that his family shared so we can continue to hear his heartfelt message long after he has gone.

Ellen Page (Actor)

Ellen Page is an Academy Award nominated actress who has an undeniable charm on the screen in such films as of films such as Freeheld, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Inception, The East, Juno and Hard Candy. The actor is also an out, proud and loud campaigner for LGBTQ rights. Something that is sadly so rare amongst the Hollywood set. In 2014, the Junostar came out as lesbian during a speech at a conference for gay teens.

“I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationship suffered. We deserve to experience love fully equally without shame and without compromise. There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are. Too many dropouts, too much abuse, too many homeless, too many suicides.”

Undoubtedly, she would have been advised against coming out in fear of damaging her career, but she chose to ignore that advice and chose a platform to speak to any young person who is struggling with their identity. Ellen we are proud to have you on the list.

Keke Palmer (Actress and Singer)

The Scream Queens actress is fluid with her sexuality, and she doesn’t care who knows. In fact, she uses every platform she can to shout from the rooftops about the importance being who you are and being able to love who you love freely. Here at BGL we just love her candid attitude and fighting spirit. Recently her music video for her new single “I Don’t Belong to You” was a perfect opportunity. It puts her in sexy setting with a man and woman. To quiet everyone’s curiosity she told People magazine she’s making her own rules. “The video was to represent the young woman today – it’s not the traditional woman anymore – and not the specifics of ‘Am I gay? Am I straight? Am I bi?’ I’m making the rules for myself, and I don’t have to be stuck down to one label.”

She told Xonecole.com, “I don’t belong to anyone else but myself. I have to make my own decisions. Happiness is defined by me. My sexuality is defined by me. And that can change, and this can change and I can make it what I want to make it because I’m the one who makes that choice. So that’s what ‘I Don’t Belong to You,’ is saying. This song feels right. It feels right and it’s telling who I am. And it captures my identity.” We love your mantras Keke, so welcome to our club.

Tyler Glenn (Singer)

At BGL we try and represent every corner and sub-culture of our community. Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn made headlines for coming out back in 2014 — not just for being gay, but for being a gay Mormon. In his coming-out interview with Rolling Stone, Glenn said he’s ready to be a gay rock star: “I’ve gotten tired of kind-of gay or straight people being pop culture’s gay spokespeople– like Macklemore. It makes me wonder, ‘Are we ready for an actual gay pop star and not just the safe straight guy saying it’s OK?’ I appreciate the fact that Michael Stipe was able to just be who he was, and it rarely overshadowed the music.”

Tyler of course had to deal with some backlash. Sections of his religion wanted him excommunicated. Then there were the terrible keyboard cowards that we are all too familiar with on social media these days. But more significantly he has helped really move things forward in religious communities. When you look at Tyler’s twitter and Facebook accounts you can see they are littered with LGBTQ+ people of all ages and denominations reaching out to thank him for leading the way. So many stories of young people who came out and refused to change the factors of their religion that promoted hate. Many whom I am sure, in return will lead a new dawn of what is acceptable in a more inclusive religion.

Tyler it couldn’t have been easy, so we have to say thanks by giving you the tenth spot in our list.

Researching all of these amazing young people certainly has made me want to do more, what about you?