LGBTQ+ History

With over 60,000 biographies the Oxford DNB includes significant, influential or notorious figures who shaped British history. In this list, you can uncover the fascinating lives of twenty-three significant figures in British LGBTQ+ history. From modern icons like Freddie Mercury to the Two Ladies of Llangollen who ran away together in the 18th century.

Click on the portraits and names below to read their full stories.

Ackland, Mary Kathleen Macrory- [pseud. Valentine Ackland] (1906–1969), poet

Ashton, Mark Christian (1960–1987), communist and gay activist

Blaney, Norah (1893–1983), pianist and revue artist, and Farrar, Gwendoline [Gwen] (1897–1944), cellist and revue artist

Britten, (Edward) Benjamin, Baron Britten (1913–1976)

Brooks [née Goddard], (Beatrice) Romaine Mary (1874–1970), painter and lesbian icon

Carpenter, Edward (1844–1929), campaigner for homosexual equality and socialist writer

Carstairs, Joe [formerly Marion Barbara] (1900–1993), heiress and motor-boat racing driver

Chapman, Graham (1941–1989), comedian and writer

Cooper, Emmanuel (1938–2012), potter, writer on craft and the arts, and advocate of gay rights

Ellis [née Lees], Edith Mary Oldham (1861–1916), writer, lecturer, and socialist

Fashanu, Justinus Soni [Justin] (1961–1998), first openly gay footballer

Forster [née Mackenzie], Jacqueline Moir [Jackie] (1926–1998), journalist and campaigner for homosexual rights

Horsfall, Allan (1927–2012), gay rights campaigner

Jarman, (Michael) Derek Elworthy (1942–1994), film-maker, painter, and campaigner for homosexual rights

The Ladies of Llangollen: Butler, Lady (Charlotte) Eleanor (1739–1829) and Ponsonby, Sarah (1755–1831)

Lister, Anne (1791–1840), diarist and traveller

McIntosh, Mary Susan (1936–2013), sociologist, feminist, and campaigner for gay rights

Mercury, Freddie [formerly Faroukh Bulsara] (1946–1991), singer and song-writer

Oliver, Kathlyn (1884–1953), feminist, founder of a trade union for domestic servants, and proponent of the right to love other women

Turing, Alan Mathison (1912–1954), mathematician and computer scientist

West, Victoria Mary [Vita] Sackville- (1892–1962), writer and gardener

Wilde, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854–1900), writer

Wright, Anthony Edgar Gartside [pseud. Antony Grey] (1927–2010), gay rights campaigner