It’s important to remember some of the extraordinary people who have battled for LGBTQ+ rights…
The first female football superstar, Lily Parr (1905-1978), was an English professional player from St Helens, Lancashire. She played as a winger for the Dick, Kerr's Ladies team, where she was renowned for her power and skill at shooting corner kicks, and scored a staggering 900 goals in her career between 1919 and 1951.
Lily is the only woman to have been made an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame, where she was commemorated with a statue in 2002.
Mark Ashton (1960-1986) was an English gay rights activist. He was the co-founder of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) alongside his friend Mike Jackson, and collected donations to support striking miners at the 1984 London Pride.
He was also involved with the Red Wedge, a group of musicians fronted by Billy Bragg who aimed to politically engage and motivate young people, and from 1985-6 served as the General Secretary of the Young Communist League. Tragically, Ashton died in 1986 of HIV/AIDS aged just 26.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an American writer and civil rights activist. She is best known for her groundbreaking memoirs depicting trauma in the form of racism, sexual abuse and misogyny, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, as well as several books of poetry and essays.
Angelou strove for Black rights alongside Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. She was the first woman and African American to make an inaugural recitation, performing her poem ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ at Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
Michael Dillon (1915-1962) was an English physician and writer, and the first trans man in the world to undergo phalloplasty. In 1946 he published Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology – one of the first books about medical transitioning and gender dysphoria ever written by a trans person.
Dillon was also a talented plastic surgeon in his own right. He performed an orchidectomy on Roberta Cowell, the first British trans woman to undergo gender affirming surgery, despite it being illegal under UK law.
Mark Weston (1905-1978) was an English field athlete and a national champion in both the women’s discus throw and javelin throw in 1929. He also won the women’s shot put title in 1925, 1928 and 1929 and was nicknamed ‘the Devonshire Wonder’.
Weston was intersex and assigned female at birth, but medically transitioned in 1936 and, after gender affirming surgery at Charing Cross Hospital, was pronounced legally male. He then retired from sports to become a masseur and live happily with his wife in Oreston, near Plymouth.