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Top Speakers for LGBT+ History Month

Founded in 2004 by Schools OUT co-chairs, Paul Patrick and Professor Emeritus Sue Sanders, LGBT+ History Month was first celebrated in the UK in February 2005. It has since become an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and a celebration of those communities.

Benny Lawrence
18 Jan 2023
Awareness Days

We’ve been reflecting on the experiences and inspiration of our LGBT+ speakers and have put together a few of our recommendations. From international sporting stars to highly successful business people and academics, these are some of the most motivating speakers on the circuit. They share their experiences to both help those currently in the face of adversity, and to stress the importance of diversity and inclusion in our world.

Mark Foster

Mark Foster

One of Britain’s greatest swimmers, Mark Foster won countless World Championship medals, and since his retirement from professional sport, has been a popular broadcaster and pundit for some of the sport’s biggest events. A familiar face in British TV and the sporting world, it is no surprise that when he publicly came out as gay in 2017, he made headlines.

Mark’s international career started when he was selected to represent Great Britain in 1985, when he was just 15. In 1990, he won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, and quicky established himself as one of the most successful British swimmers of his generation. He won six World Championship titles; 11 European Championship titles and two Commonwealth titles. He has also become a popular TV personality, appearing on the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, Through the Keyhole and Celebrity Juice.

Whilst the public’s reception to Mark opening-up about his sexuality was met with love and support, in his speaking engagements he can discuss the emotions he felt before he made this brave decision. As he did not know how it would be received, Mark can share his experiences both before and after he announced his sexuality.

Dame Inga Beale

Dame Inga Beale

The first both female and openly bisexual person to hold the position of CEO of Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale ended a 328-year male reign in the role, and is now one of the most popular business and diversity speakers in the industry.

Following leadership roles at a number of high-profile financial organisations in Europe, she was named Lloyd’s of London’s CEO in 2013. During her time in the role, she oversaw dramatic modernisation in the business. These culture changes included the introduction of a supper club for female executives and Pride@Lloyds to support the LGBT+ members of the workforce. She received widespread recognition for her success, including being the first female and bisexual woman to be named number one in the OUTstanding & FT Leading LGBT executive power list.

Being in a minority both as a female in a traditionally male-dominated business industry and as bisexual, Inga can discuss her experience climbing the ladder and breaking through the glass ceiling. She is a role model for many and a strong advocate for diversity in the workplace.

Dr Justin Bengry

Justin Bengry Headshot

Leading historian and director of the ‘Centre for Queer History’ at Goldsmith, University of London, Justin Bengry is widely recognised for his expertise and academic writing and research on the topic.

Alongside his insightful and impressive research, Justin convenes the world’s first MA in Queer History, and has advised on the topic for programmes on the BBC and Channel 4. He has also worked as a consultant for art and film producers. His work has appeared extensively across peer-reviewed journals, edited collections, international newspapers, and multiple online media. He is credited for his efforts to make academic research accessible and relevant to the wider public through community outreach projects. An example of this is through the internationally recognised blog, NOTCHES.

An expert in the field, Justin is the perfect speaker for any LGBT+ event. With an immense knowledge on the topic, he can approach it with factual information, making his speeches academically detailed. This gives audiences a clearer understanding of the subject.

Joanne Lockwood

Joanne Lockwood

Inclusion and belonging specialist and public speaker,Joanne Lockwood is the founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen. She is a role model for the LGBT+ community and being transgender herself, understands the struggles people face with it.

Her success in the field of inclusion and diversity has been widely recognised and in 2022, she was voted one of the “Top 30 Diversity & Inclusion Leaders You Must Follow” by Joanne is also well known for her contribution and feature in the 2019 UK Channel 4 documentary, “The Making of Me”. This detailed her gender transition and the impact on both her and those around her. She also regularly writes in a UK national newspaper, where she shares her views on acceptance and belonging.

A valued inclusion consultant to many organisations, Joanne advises and educates corporations on how to promote equality within the workplace. A force on the speaking circuit, she is guaranteed to spread positivity with her mantra “smile, engage and educate.”

Harnaam Kaur

Harnaam Kaur

One of the most inspirational diversity speakers, Harnaam Kaur is recognised as a model and activist who has used her experience of adversity as a force for good. She is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion as she speaks about body image, cyberbullying and a range of LGBT+ issues.

Diagnosed aged 12 with polycystic ovary syndrome – a condition that sees the female body receive too many male hormones, Harnaam grew excess face and body hair, including a full beard. With the speed of its growth, she was unable to remove the hair, and this caused her relentless bullying and online social media abuse. She committed self-harm and attempted suicide. She has now harnessed these negative experiences, openly speaks with the media and works as a freelance model , championing body image. She has been included in high-profile photography exhibits and was the first woman with a beard to walk London Fashion Week in 2016.

Having struggled with her image and the abuse it caused her from a young age, Harnaam understands how it feels to be in a minority. She shares how she suppressed the negatives and overcame her fears to be where she is today.

Dame Kelly Holmes

Dame Kelly Holmes

Star of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, winning gold in both the 800m and 1500m events, Dame Kelly Holmes is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest-ever sportswomen. Having publicly opened up about her sexuality in 2022, she is a big advocate for the LGBT+ community in current society.

A former military sergeant, Kelly can discuss what it was like being a minority in both the sporting world, and the traditionally male-dominated British Military. She uses this experience to share what it was like for her in the Women’s Royal Army Corps and other military organisations, before she focused on sport. Kelly has continued her success as she takes on roles such as the President of Commonwealth Games England, as well as being a highly popular sports, mental health, and LGBT+ speaker. She continues to support the next generation of athletes and is a role model to all who want to succeed, as she promotes diversity and inclusion.

Having struggled with her mental health over the years, she uses her journey to offer reassurance and support, and educates industries on the importance of equality and mental health.

Kellie Maloney

Kellie Maloney

Kellie Maloney is an English boxing promoter, TV personality and one of the most highly rated transgender diversity speakers on the circuit. She bravely and honestly opened up about her transition journey in a worldwide exclusive with The Daily Mirror, where she appeared on the front page for 3 consecutive days.

After realising, with her small stature, that the boxing ring was not for her, Kellie turned to promotion in the sport. She promoted a number of boxers to various British, European and Commonwealth titles. Additionally, and arguably her greatest success was promoting Lennox Lewis, guiding him to the title of heavyweight champion of the world. Kellie has also starred on the likes of Celebrity Masterchef and a documentary about her life and transition, Knockout Blonde.

With her career being in the traditionally male dominated sport of boxing, she is no stranger to being in a minority. Being able to relate to the attention that this draws, she both helps those facing adversity, and educates others in the importance of its acceptance in her speaking.

Nigel Owens MBE

Nigel Owens MBE

One of the world’s most famous rugby union referees, Nigel Owens has officiated some of the biggest matches in the world, in a career that spanned almost 20 years. He has also earned a reputation as one of the most influential LGBT personalities in sport.

Being known for his strict but fair style of officiating, Nigel won respect from players and fans alike. He made his European debut in 2001; took charge of his first test match in 2003; and made his international debut in 2007. In 2015, he won both the World Rugby Referee Award and was named ‘Gay Personality of the Decade’ by Stonewall. In 2007, Nigel made headlines as he publicly came out as gay and whilst the response was largely positive and supportive, he was also met with homophobic abuse both online and from fans during games. In 2020, he retired from international refereeing after becoming the most-capped official of all time, having officiated the likes of the World Cup, Six Nations, and Heineken Cup finals. He now works as a pundit and continues to officiate in the Pro14 and at club level in Wales, as well as becoming a popular Welsh TV personality, hosting primetime shows.

Having struggled with his mental health and sexuality for most of his life, Nigel understands the importance of acceptance for all. He promotes diversity and inclusion in his speaking, educating on the minorities of the LGBT+ community, and how we should all be treated as equals.

With the successes and heights that our LGBT+ speakers have achieved, it is evident that their sexuality bears no limitations. As these people have suffered from in-person and online abuse, their mental strength has only increased, making them perfect to help others in similar situations. If you’re looking to educate and support your teams, or simply feel inspired, look no further than the LGBT+ speakers we have here at Evolve. To book one of our speakers or for more suggestions, get in touch with our friendly team of agents today.

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