Meet 100 LGBT+ Trailblazers Redefining the Creative Industry

We asked influential LGBT+ icons to nominate trailblazers who they believe are redefining the creator landscape. The result? A unique and incredible list of 100 trailblazing LGBT+ folk breaking barriers and inspiring change!

We’re on a mission to explore and tackle inequalities in the creative industry - this is why we run diversity initiatives, dedicating our curated projects and people sections on The Dots to undersung groups. This brings together an abundance of dazzling work from diverse creators that continues to inspire.
To raise awareness of the projects, businesses, work, performances, advocacy, artwork, charity (and more) that take place because of the LGBT+ community, we are doing a week-long takeover where only LGBT+ talent will be featured on The Dots.
See the full nominations list of 100 LGBT+ trailblazers below to learn more about who is colouring the future of our creative industries.
Together we can make a better and more diverse creative industry.

Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett
Bursting with positive energy, Chaka Sobhani (CCO of advertising powerhouse Leo Burnett) has 20 years of experience in the advertising and broadcast industry. Starting out as a comedy writer, Chaka went on to launch children’s channels across the world, start up ITV Creative and direct at top agency Mother.

Chaka’s nominations:
Tara Mckenty, Creative Director, Google Sydney
Ashly Perez, Director, Actor, Producer, #ladiesmakingthings
Shan Huq, Designer

Co-Founder of the Women's Equality Party
Sandi Toksvig OBE is a comedian, writer, actor, presenter, producer and political activist, well known for her quick-witted presenting of QI, 1001 Things You Should Know and The Great British Bake Off (to name a few), alongside her dedication to women’s rights that in 2015, saw the co-founding of The Women’s Equality Party.

Sandi’s nominations:
Shelley Silas, Playwright
Ayishat Akanbi, Fashion Stylist, Writer, Cultural Commentator & Artist
Hana Tanimura, Senior Designer, Google Creative Lab NY
Hannah Peaker, Chief of Staff Women’s Equality Party & Activist
Zanele Muholi, Visual Activist

Founder & Creative Director of Hello Mr.
In 2018, designer and creative director Ryan Fitzgibbon gave the world Hello Mr, a magazine crossing boundaries of print, engaging in extended conversation about culture and identity. Ryan’s aim is to create an outlet made up of poetry, essays and photography for a generation of gay men and the wider LGBT+ community misrepresented in the media.

Ryan’s nominations:
Ryker Allen, Photographer & Photo Editor, Hello Mr.
Amit Greenberg, Artist & Creative Director
Marcelo Gutierrez, Makeup Artist, Writer & Filmmaker
Yezmin Villareal & Bridget Ore, Co-founders of Dyke Queen Zine
New Pandemics, Casting & management agency dedicated to increasing LGBTQ+ visibility

Writer & UK Editor, VICE’s Broadly
Zing Tsjeng is an author and journalist, commandeering Broadly, the digital platform for women, slickly curated with conversations from a diverse array of women on subjects such as identity, sexuality, lore, subculture and politics. Zing’s documentaries have millions of views and her book series Forgotten Women pins down amazing women forgotten in patriarchal history books.

Zing’s nominations:
Amelia Abraham, Writer & Journalist (refinery29, VICE, Guardian)
Tom Rasmussen, Writer & Journalist (VICE, DAZED, refinery29, i-D, Independent)
Ayesha Tan Jones, Artist, Musician & Founder of Shadow Sistxrs Fight Club
Karnage Kills, Grime Artist
Juno Roche, Writer, Campaigner & Activist

Trans Activist & Author
Credited by the Guardian and The Independant as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK, Charlie first hit headlines with her award-winning campaign Nail Transphobia where she raised transgender awareness and gave manicures. 2017 saw the publication of her inspirational anthology To My Trans Sisters.

Charlie’s nominations:
Mario Pimenta, Graphic Designer
Alessandro Merlo, Photographer
Rene Matich, Conceptual Artist
Le Roni, Headpiece Designer
Paula Akpan, Director, Black Girl Fest & Social Media Editor, gal-dem

Director of Communications, Pride in London
Asad Dhunna is a London-based marketing and communications director, including for London Pride. In his writing, Asad explores what it is like living as a gay muslim man, describing it as ‘living in the world’s smallest venn diagram’. For 2018 Pride, Asad worked on the Somewhere Over The Rainbow Campaign with agency BMB.

Asad’s nominations:
Sharan Dhaliwal, Founder & Editor in Chief, Burnt Roti Mag
Chirag H Patel, Art Director
Poonum Chauhan, Studio Founder of Moon Creative & Head of Design, Pride in London
Lara Kingsbeer, Marketing Officer, TATE & Marketing Volunteer, PrideAM
Laurie Garnons Williams, Filmmaker, Shelter

Britain's First Out Muslim Drag Queen
Asifa is ‘Britain’s first out Muslim Drag Queen’ discussing the intersectionality of being muslim and LGBT+. After rising to prominence for being censored from BBC Free Speech and appearing in C4’s Muslim Drag Queens, Asifa inspires at events such as Women of the World, DJs at top Gaysian clubs and shares her transition experience.

Asifa’s nominations:
Vishal Gaikwad, Founder of Glitter Cymru
Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, Producer & Director, Joi Productions
Joseph Adesunloye, Film Director & Founder of DreamCoat Productions
Travis Alabanza, Artist, Performer & Writer
Lasana Shabazz, Drag Artist & Performer

Founder, Courier Magazine
In 2012, Jeff Taylor co-founded Courier Media Magazine, a publication reporting on startup culture from around the world and business in the modern age. The magazine sets out to challenge conventions of how and why companies are to inspire a new generation of people who want to work differently.

Jeff’s nominations:
Asad Dhunna, Director of Communications, Pride in London
Megan Lucero, Director of the The Bureau Local, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Charlie Craggs, Trans Activist & Author
Tom Stevens, Head of Brand, Pride in London

Co-Founders, BBZ London
In 2016, filmmaker Naeem and photographer Tia founded BBZ, a series of all-inclusive parties. By broadening horizons from nightlife accommodating white, gay men, BBZ re-represents and moulds safe spaces for queer, trans and intersexed people of colour - combining curated work from artists and tapping into contemporary youth culture.

Tia & Naeem’s nominations:
Kai Isaiah Jamal, Writer & Spoken Word Poet
Travis Alabanza, Artist, Performer & Writer (Second time nomination)
Bernice Mulenga, Multi-disciplinary Artist
Sandra Falase, Writer, Artist & Scenic Set Builder
Imani Robinson, Writer, Researcher, Curator

Head of Content & Community, The Dots
Mixing marketing, creative strategy, editorial and content, Brendan McKnight has worked at leading publications including Desktop Magazine (design), Dumbo Feather (culture periodical) and Frankie (Australia’s #1 women’s mag). Brendan is now the Head of Content & Community at The Dots, leading strategy behind its diversity initiatives.

Brendan’s nominations:
Rose Pilkington, Digital Artist & Motion Designer
Andy Dexterity, Performance maker & Deaf Australia Ambassador
Tin Nguyen, Graphic Designer, Tin & Ed
Samuel Leighton-Dore, Queer Writer, Director & Visual Artist
Tanya Compas, Youth Worker, Writer & Head of Youth Engagement, UK Black Pride

Editor-in-Chief, Boys by Girls
Cecilie Harris is an established freelance fashion and portraiture photographer working with brands such as Sony Music, I-D and Pretty Green. In 2011, Cecilie founded Boys by Girls a bi-annual magazine dissolving stereotypes in the photographic gaze, capturing the beauty and voice from contemporary young men through the female lens.

Cecilie’s nominations:
Mitch Zachary, Photographer
Connor Franta, Youtuber, Entrepreneur & Writer

Comedian & Comedy Writer
Quickly becoming a queen of the comedy circuit, Duker is a writer and comedian discussing all-important agendas such as the injustices of being a black woman in Britain today via laugh out loud performance. Sophie also stars in C4’s pilot Riot Girls, is a BBC New Comedy Award finalist, and alumni of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve.

Sophie’s nominations:
Liv Wynter, Artist, Educator, Activist & Writer
Ellen Jones, Activist, Writer & YouTuber
Kemah Bob, Comic, Actress & Producer
Liv Little, Editor-in-Chief, gal-dem
Almass Badat, Artist, Creative Consultant & Activist

CFO & COO, The Dots
John’s advocacy of LGBT+ visibility in both creative and social spaces are channelled via his position as COO/CFO of The Dots and a founding member of the UK’s first LGBT+ entrepreneurs network Series Q. The Dots’ mission is to spotlight traditionally underrepresented groups to tell their stories and gain access to creative opportunity.

John’s nominations:
Tea Uglow, Creative Director, Google Creative Lab, Sydney
Mark Runacus, Co-Founder & Planning Partner of Wax/On, Chair of the DMA board & President of PrideAM
Tamara Littleton, CEO & Founder, The Social Element and Polpeo, Founding Committee Member of SeriesQ
Samuel Dougal, Designer and Bespoke Tailor
Harrison Pearce, Sculptor and Artist
Elizabeth Valleau, Global Creative Strategist, AR Specialist at Facebook London

Performance Artist, Author & Columnist, Elle UK
Words are Rhyannon’s way via magazines such as Elle, Broadly and The Sunday Times Style. Her forte is in fashion and identity with much of her work discussing the journey of transitioning. This has been to acclaim in her memoir The New Girl: A Trans Girl Tells it Like it Is. Rhyannon’s side hustles include performance art and modelling.

Rhyannon’s nominations:
Norman Boulton, Stylist, Not Another Salon
Travis Alabanza, Artist, Performer & Writer (Third time nomination)
Lucy Fizz, Dancer & Trans Icon, Glitterbox
Robbie-Lee Valentine, YouTuber, RLVTV
Eve Stainton, Contemporary Dancer & Creator
A big special thanks to our friends Iomogen Forte, Robert Gershinson, Ryker Allen, Ryan Romanes, Abbie Jasmine Loveridge, Plamena Kostadinova & Rose Pilkington for letting us use their beautiful imagery!
Words: Robyn Sian Cusworth

Team Credits

Pip Jamieson

Sandra Falase

Tom Rasmussen

  • Writer, Journalist
  •  

Ryan Fitzgibbon

  • Founder and Creative Director
  • Hello Mr, AIGA San Francisco, IDEO, People Design

Tia Simon-Campbell

  • EVENT PRODUCER
  •  

Nadine Grant

Naeem Davis

  • Freelance Production Assistant
  • My Beautiful City, Everyman Cinemas, Straight Guys, Breaking Points, Supper Club London, Livin’ Proof

Companies

  • BBZ

    BBZ

    • Arts

Skills

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The Dots
A diverse community of creators, freelancers & teams
Pip Jamieson
Founder | Delightfully dyslexic, excuse typos!
Sophie Howe
Marketing, Partnerships & Event Production