The LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland is a powerful and wonderful thing; a vibrant movement and collective of art, activism, performance, political experience, leadership, literature and dynamism. There are so many voices within our community that deserve to be amplified, to be lifted up and highlighted but we only have so many pages. Every LGBTQ person that puts their head above the parapet and works for change, that expresses and lives in their own truth, is a hero. This is a list of some of the most influential and remarkable people within our community over the last 12 months, in no particular order.
A familiar face to many of us, she is a multi-award winning comedian, entertainer and performer. Gemma is the co-founder of Queertopia, an alternative queer collective of performers and artists in Belfast, and activist. Gemma is best known for performing as Dick Van Dyke and is a creative director with The 343 in east Belfast.
Cllr Malachai O’Hara
Recently elected Deputy Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland, Malachai (or Mal as most of us know him) is a former staffer for The Rainbow Project and a longtime activist for our community. These days Malachai can be found causing a much needed fuss in Belfast City Hall being elected in May as a local Councillor for the Castle electoral area in North Belfast.
A Derry girl and the partner of Lyra McKee, Sara has carried on the legacy of her partner by speaking up for marriage equality here. Sara hit the headlines when she challenged Prime Minister Theresa May aDt Lyra’s funeral on the continued ban on same-sex marriage here. An incredibly powerful and resilient woman and a champion for our
A women’s rights advocate and the Artistic Director for the Outburst Queer Arts Festival, Ruth is a powerhouse of talent, campaigning experience and dedicated to showcasing and nourishing artistic talent within the queer community here.
John Blair MLA
The first openly gay member of the Northern Ireland Assemnbly, John served his community as a Councillor in Newtownabbey for many years before being co-opted into the Assembly when Alliance Party leader David Ford stepped down. John made headlines by becoming the first visible member of our community to sit in the NI Assembly as an MLA for South Down.
Winner of the 2017 Ruth West Poetry Scholarship, and the Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Literary Scholarship for her beautiful poetry, Dawn was selected as one of the 2018 Poetry Ireland Introduction Series poets and has short stories coming out this year in two anthologies: Still Worlds Turning, and Belfast Stories.
Cllr Anthony Flynn
Former chair of Queer Greens, Anthony (or Anto) is a well known LGBT activist based in Belfast, having made an impact with his speech at the march for marriage equality last year with his partner. Anthony is also the first openly gay politician elected in east Belfast, holding a seat for the Greens on Belfast City Council in the Lisnasharragh constituency.
A familiar face within the LGBT rights movement in Derry/Londonderry, Sha is the former chair of Foyle Pride. Originally from Donegal, Sha transformed the pride scene in the maiden city by overseeing the first pride parade there in 2010. Sha stood down from her role as chair in 2015 but continues to make an impact and be a voice for change for the LGBT community in the north west.
Known by his stage name of Bobby Bordeaux, Bobby Duffy is well known amongst the queer arts scene in Belfast and beyond, having performed with Queertopia, in Boombox, Kremlin and even for former Irish President Mary McAleese in 2017. Bobby is set for big things after picking up the crown at the Mr Boylesque 2019 contest in Dublin.
The first transgender woman to stand for election anywhere in Northern Ireland, Ellen Murray is an inspirational and committed activist for trans* and non-binary people here. The founder of GenderJam NI, Ellen has changed the lives of hundreds of young trans* and non-binary people in Northern Ireland by creating resources, championing rights of disabled people and currently sits as a director of Transgender NI and the policy officer for TENI.
Chair of the LGBT committee of the Alliance Party and a former member of the Belfast Pride Committee, Micky is a veteran campaigner for LGBT rights in Northern Ireland and a dedicated activist in his local community and on homelessness.
Ross Anderson Doherty
Also known as the Voice Bear, Ross Anderson Doherty is a staple amongst the cabaret scene in Belfast. Standing out from the crowd in whatever way he can, Ross is a fierce advocate for LGBT rights and a fantastic performer. He recently took his critically acclaimed one man show, Cake Daddy, to Australia.
Director of Here NI, Cara McCann is an outspoken activist for the community here, championing the rights of same-sex parents and bisexual and lesbian women in Northern Ireland. Recently married, Cara is a committed marriage equality activist and winner of the 2017 GNI Award for Influential Local LGBT Person.
A star on the rise, Blu Hydrangea (Joshua Cargill) is an Instagram sensation when she’s not storming the stage at Maverick and Boombox in the Queer Quarter. Blu has taken the internet by storm with her make-up transformations and counting the likes of James St James, Aja and Miss Vanjie among her fans.
Director of The Rainbow Project, John is no stranger to our community, representing us in the media and amongst political circles. An unapologetic campaigner and proud advocate for the community here, John is a force to be reckoned with and a highly respected voice within the voluntary and charity sector.
Naomhán O’Connor (right)
Founder of Non-Binary Northern Ireland and a director of Transgender NI, Naomhan is an outspoken camapigner for the rights and recognitions of non-binary and gender-fluid people in Northern Ireland and abroad, currently working as communications officer for Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE).
Mary Ellen Campbell (left)
A former Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast and former Sinn Fein councillor for the Castle constituency, Mary Ellen was the first openly gay woman to wear the chain of office in Belfast City Council. A recent proposal of hers ensured that Belfast City Hall will fly the rainbow flag for Belfast Pride.
Electra La C*nt (right)
No stranger to controversy, Electra (Deaghlan Agnew), is a recognisable face within the queer performing arts scene here. A co-founder of Queertopia and a regular performer at Harland & Poof, Electra made headlines when she wore a tiara adorned with HIV positive blood to Belfast Pride in 2016 and electrified Alternative Queer Ulster in Stormont last summer with a rousing speech about queer portrayal in the media.
Cllr Séamas de Faoite (left)
A local SDLP councillor for the Lisnasharragh constiuency, Séamas is the second openly gay politician in east Belfast, taking the last seat on Belfast City Council. Séamas is the Chair of Belfast City Council’s Brexit Committee. Known for his public speaking skills and head for politics, Seamas is one of a new crop of young politicians to take a seat in local government.
Carol Morrow (right)
Head of the Good Relations Delivery Branch within the NI Civil Service, Dungannon native Carol is a former parliamentary assistant to Martina Anderson MEP and a member of the NICS LGBT Steering Group, helping to shape positive change for LGBT people within the NI Civil Service.
Alexa Moore (left)
Director of Transgender NI, Alexa is a regular contributor to BBC’s Top Table and an experience campaigner for young trans* and non-binary people across Ireland. Her work has been instrumental in ensuring that issues affecting the trans* and non-binary community here are highlighted and taken seriously by politicians.
Fidelma Carolan (right)
Fidlema is well known amongst trade union circles in Northern Ireland, being a formidable presence within UNISON for some time now. Fidelma is a veteran campaigner on women’s issues, LGBT rights and against austerity. A well respected figure and public speaker.
Originally from England, Stephen moved to Strabane as a young man, experiencing homophobia, violence, and stigma but became a trailblazer for the LGBT community in West Tyrone. Stephen was the founder of the Strabane LGBT society and has given a voice to the community in a traditionally conservative and rural part of the country.
Writer for The Guardian, Metro UK and others; Lee is a football fanatic and owner of Daily Cannon, a website dedicated to football and Arsenal FC. Lee works on highlighting the impact of transphobia on trans men, and how they contribute to the community.
Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana
Researcher, educator, political analyst, international consultant and journalist. Dr WWeerawardhana has many strings to her bow, Originally from Sri Lanka, Chamindra works to fight oppression against LGBT people of colour and to improve the situation for queer people in Sri Lanka.
Special Dedication – Lyra McKee (right)
An openly gay writer, journalist and activist from North Belfast, Lyra McKee was the author of two books and in 2014 she made headlines with a letter to her 14 year old self about being gay, her future in journalism and being happy. A TEDx speaker and someone with a nose for a story and a huge heart, Lyra moved to Derry last year before being tragically killed by a gunman on April 19th this year during rioting in Derry’s Cregan Estate. Her partner Sara Canning carries on her legacy.