15 Renowned Gay British  Celebrities 

A list of the most influential gay, lesbian, bisexual and  queer British celebrities of today. 

Queer culture in the UK is colourful and varied. If you visit the largest cities, outside of, but  especially during pride month, you are sure to find events and establishments that  welcome and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.  

Another aspect of British pride comes in the form of celebrities. Those in the public eye  who are paving the way forward for queer representation in British culture, using their fame  to bring attention to queer issues and greater social acceptance at home and around the  world. So here is a list of the most well-known and influential gay and queer British talents  of today. 

Sir Ian McKellen 

An icon of British acting and LGBTQ+ activism, Ian McKellen is best known for his roles in  the Lord of the Rings and X-Men films, as well as for his expansive theater career going  back to the 1960s. He has been awarded every major British theatrical prize you can think  of, and was knighted by the Queen for his services to performing arts in 1991. 

McKellen has spoken openly about his sexuality since the 1980s, and has been an activist  for British and worldwide LGBTQ+ rights ever since. He first came out on a BBC radio  show in 1988 while debating a conservative MP about a proposed anti-homosexuality law,  explaining wanting to use his fame to show that supporting gay rights was ok no matter  your identity.  

He co-founded stonewall, the British LGBTQ+ rights organization, and supports many  other charities like London pride, LGBT history month and more. 

Layton Williams 

Layton Williams is a young, well known stage and screen actor from Manchester. He  began his career at 12 playing Young Michael Jackson in Thriller – Live in the West End,  and as the star of Billy Elliot the Musical. He featured in Jack Whitehall’s BBC comedy Bad  Education in 2012, playing a gay school student, and has now returned for the show’s  fourth series in 2023.  

He famously played the lead role in the successful musical Everybody’s Talking About  Jamie, playing the titular character in both the UK and US. Layton talked about growing up  in a small town, facing both racism and homophobia:  

“That’s why I’m so out of the box now. That’s why gay people are so iconic — we spent so  long pretending to be someone else that when we can be authentically ourselves there’s 

no holding us back.” He advocates for the LGBTQ+ charities ‘Stonewall’ and ‘Ditch the  Label.’ 

He has recently been announced as a contestant on the newest season of Strictly Come  Dancing. 

Joe Locke 

Joe came to fame only last year as the main character of Netflix’s Heartstopper, a series  featuring a range of queer actors and characters, based on author and illustrator Alice  Oseman’s successful graphic novels. He stars as Charlie Spring, the only openly gay boy  at his school, and the story follows his romance with fellow student Nick Nelson. 

Joe, with his Heartstopper co-stars, talks about the importance of the queer representation  seen in the show, and how still as a young person himself, it has helped him to accept his  own sexuality, especially with being so rapidly placed in the public eye.  

Heartstopper is Joe’s first acting role, but his future role in Marvel series Agatha Coven of  Chaos has already been announced, acting alongside Patti Lupone, and his future in the  industry is sure to keep growing. 

Kit Connor 

This leads us to Kit Connor. Kit came out as bisexual in 2022 at only 18 years old after  online pressure and speculation. He proudly plays the also bisexual character Nick Nelson  in Heartstopper, whose experiences Connor has commented mirror his own in many  respects. 

Speaking on his school experience: “[it was a] a very heteronormative atmosphere. It  wasn’t really accepted in a lot of ways…It’s the experience of maybe you’re too straight to  be gay and you’re too gay to be straight.” 

Kit has been acting since he was a child, notably playing a young Elton John in  Rocketman in 2019. He is set to star in the film adaptation of the book ‘A Cuban Girl’s  Guide to Tea and Tomorrow’ and will continue to play Nick Nelson for at least one more  Heartstopper season, if not many more (we hope!) 

Alice Oseman 

The last from the Heartstopper universe on this list, Alice Oseman is a writer and illustrator  from Kent, where Heartstopper is set. The first of their novels was released when they were  only 20 years old in 2014, while only a freshman at Durham University. In 2019, it was  announced that Netflix had commissioned a first season of Heartstopper with production  company See-Saw Films, and Alice now writes the wildly successful series, as well as  continuing to publish episodes of the webcomic of the same name on Webtoon and Tapas. 

The recently released Heartstopper season 2 features a character, Isaac, who’s journey  into discovering his asexuality Alice felt was important to include and highlight. Alice  identifies as asexual and aromantic, so many of her experiences and personal feelings  have gone into her work, especially Heartstopper, and their 2020 novel, Loveless. 

“The world is obsessed with sex and romance. And if you don’t have that, you feel like you  haven’t achieved something that’s really important,” 

Clare Balding 

A staple of British sports presenting, Clare Balding has been a prominent name in both  television and radio since the 1990s. She is known for being a big proponent of British  horse racing, having started out as a jockey, but has also reported for the BBC for a  number of sporting events from all over the world, including as a commentator at 7  Olympic Games’. Her latest success is in her new prestigious role of the BBC’s coverage  of Wimbledon, taking over from Sue Barker who has hosted since 1993. 

Clare confirmed her sexuality in 2002, announcing her long standing relationship with Alice  Arnold, fellow BBC radio presenter. They entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and  married in 2015 in a private ceremony. 

Clare has spoken about why fear prevented her from coming out as gay earlier on, feeling  that it may harm her career. She and her wife appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox in 2021,  saying that she felt it was important for the audience to see a same-sex couple sitting at  home watching TV, leading a normal life.  

Graham Norton 

Although from Dublin, Ireland, Graham Norton is an indisputable legend of British  presenting, and one the most recognisable talk show hosts on television today. He started  out as an actor, appearing in Irish series Father Ted, then began hosting his own talk  shows on Channel 4. The current BBC series, The Graham Norton Show has seen him  interviewing the biggest names in the world since its start in 2007. He has hosted  prestigious events such as the BAFTAs, has been the BBC’s commentator for the  Eurovision Song Contest since 2009 and now is also a frequent host on RuPaul’s Drag  Race UK. He began his literary career in 2016, having two biographies and several novels. 

Norton has been openly gay since the start of his career, never feeling the need to  explicitly come out, and comfortably refers to his sexuality on his show and in interviews.  He married partner Johnathan McLeod last year after meeting 6 years previously. 

Alan Carr 

Another icon of British talk shows and comedy, Alan Carr has also hosted his own TV  series; Alan Carr Chatty Man, on Channel 4 from 2009 to 2016, and has since been a  regular face on a number of British TV and radio shows. He joined Graham Norton in 

being a regular judge on Drag Race UK in 2019, often appears as a team captain on  comedy panel show 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and most recently has created and  stars in an ITV comedy series based on his childhood named Changing Ends. He has won  several TV and comedy awards for Chatty Man and for his stand up comedy. 

He mentioned on his talk show while interviewing a guest that he never really had to  come out of the closet, and was made fun of for his camp behavior from childhood.  Although having since split up, in 2018, Alan married his long-time partner, with singer and  good friend Adele as the officiant. 

Stephen Fry 

One of the most recognisable names on this list when we think of famous British gay  people, Stephen fry is a multi-faceted talent, having delved into comedy, acting, presenting  and writing, among other ventures. He first came to fame alongside other big names in  British acting, namely Hugh Laurie and Rowan Atkinson, who all starred in the BBC series  Blackadder, ending in 1989.  

He famously played fellow gay writer Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde in 1997, and has had  feature roles in many big films and television series.  

Fry has been outspoken about many world issues, including gay and queer rights in Britain  and around the world. He also advocates for wildlife conservation and efforts against the  climate crisis, as well as mental health, being the current president of the mental health  charity, Mind. 

Sir Elton John 

Arguably the biggest star on this list, Elton John is a legend of British born musicians, and  his life story can be seen in the 2019 film Rocketman, which he and his partner produced. 

He came to fame in the 1970s with tracks such as Your Song and album Goodbye Yellow  Brick Road, and has continued to write and sing chart topping hits to this day. He has  composed for films such as The Lion King and Billy Elliot the Musical. He has toured his  music since the age of 23 and has recently retired, concluding in the Farewell Yellow Brick  Road Tour

Elton John is outspoken about his sexuality. He came out, first as bisexual in 1976, and  then as gay in 1992, both in magazine Rolling Stone. He is the founder of the Elton John  Aids Foundation, established in 1992, and he is well known for his philanthropy. He was  knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998 for his services to music and charitable services. He  has many awards for his music, including two Oscars, 5 Grammys and a Tony award, as  well as being inducted into the Songwriters and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992  and 1994 respectively. 

Before coming out, Elton married recording engineer Renate Blauel in an elaborate  ceremony in Australia, but explains that while she was an incredible woman, he was living  a lie. He met his current partner David Furnish, a Canadian filmmaker, in 1993 and they 

were able to officially marry in 2014. They now live between London and Beverly Hills, and  have two children together via surrogate. 

Miriam Margolyes 

An incredibly entertaining actress and presenter, Miriam Margolyes does not shy away  from any conversation topic if her interviews and recent autobiography This Much is True are any indication, including being an out and proud lesbian.  

Miriam has been an actor since the 1970s, beginning with VoiceOver work. She has  featured in many major film and TV productions, and has many voice acting roles in films  such as Disney’s Mulan, Happy Feet and Early Man. She won a BAFTA award for best  supporting actress in The Age of Innocence, directed by Martin Scorsese in 1993, and  most famously played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films. She was awarded an  OBE for services to drama in 2002. 

Bella Ramsay 

Most famous for their role in The Last of Us, Bella is a rising talent in the acting industry,  and also a new face of representation of non-binary celebrities. 

Bella’s breakout role was on Game of Thrones in 2016 as Leanna Mormont. They  subsequently had roles in CBBC’s The Worst Witch, adapted from the successful  children’s books, and then was cast as Ellie in The Last of Us, alongside Pedro Pascal.  They also starred in the animated Netflix series Hilda, and in a lesbian horror short film  Requiem

Bella has talked about using they/them pronouns, and describing their sexuality as ‘wavy.’  Bella also advocates for transgender rights and visibility, as well as for veganism. 

Joe Lycett 

Joe Lycett is a talented stand-up comedian, who’s fame has been steadily rising for over a  decade. He has been performing live since around the age of 22, and then began  appearing on a great number of established British comedy television shows, including  Live at the Apollo, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Taskmaster. 

In his act and in interviews he talks about identifying as both bisexual and pansexual, and  was pronounced Britain’s most high profile pansexual man of today by Unicorn Magazine

In the last few years he has made stands against various social and political topics in the  British media. He threatened to shred £10,000 unless David Beckham ended his deal with Qatar, host country of the World Cup in 2022, and famously a dangerous place for queer  people. 

He has hosted his own television shows, including Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, in which he  uncovers scammers in the UK, helps people recover their losses and get revenge. In one 

of these instances, he legally changed his name to Hugo Boss, to protest the company  who were preventing small businesses from using the word ‘boss.’ 

Dame Kelly Holmes 

Kelly Holmes is a celebrated sportswoman, having won two gold medals at the Athens  2004 Olympic Games in the 800 and 1,500 meter races, and holds British records for the  600 and 1000 metre distances. 

She was in the armed forces from age 18, and was not able to come out as a lesbian due  to it being illegal at the time. When she came to fame for sporting, she was still afraid of  the consequences from the army even after leaving, as well as the potential to harm her  athletics career. She finally announced that she was gay in 2022, and in the same year  released a documentary which discussed her sexuality, and met with two people who were  discharged from the army for being gay. 

The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust was established in 2008, which aims to support young  athletes coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Although retired from athletics and  competing, Kelly continues to be involved in major events, including being named  president of the Commonwealth Games England in 2009. Recently, she has shown her  support for transgender rights, advocating to the International Olympic Committee for trans  woman athletes’ participation in women’s sporting categories. 

Jameela Jamil 

Jameela is a successful actress from the UK, having starred in the US sitcom The Good  Place from 2016 to 2020, and Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. She began her  television career by applying for presenting gigs, and has been host of many British TV  and radio shows, such as Playing it Straight and the Chart Show on BBC Radio 1, on  which she was the first ever solo female presenter of the programme. 

Since landing the role of Tahani on The Good Place and moving to Los Angeles, Jameela  has played roles in a number of television and film projects. She came out as queer in  2020 when faced with backlash due to her role as a judge on queer reality show  Legendary. 

Jamil is a strong advocate for mental health issues, having struggled with it herself,  especially criticizing diet culture and unhealthy body standards. Calling out other  celebrities for promoting toxic products to young influential social media users.

Gay Worlley

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