Every spring here at JLA we get enquiries for keynote speakers on the topic of LGBT issues and diversity in the run up to Gay Pride in June (or July/August depending on the city). Gay Pride itself is a powerful statement by the LGBT community of its self-affirmation, visibility, equality and strong sense of community. More and more corporate entities and organisations are standing up for equality and are hosting events to celebrate the sexual diversity of their employees, clients and general society. LGBT keynote speakers are often an important element of these events, helping audiences to understand their struggles and victories in overcoming shame, discrimination and ultimately living a life where “It Gets Better”.
Among the thousands of keynote speakers we work with at JLA, we have a number who speak openly about their sexuality, or indeed their support to minority sexualities and equality. Here are some of my top picks.
The Richardson-Walshes claimed victory in the 2016 Rio Olympic hockey final, becoming the first gay married couple to win gold on the same team. They speak about leadership and teamwork, the lessons in overcoming setbacks and the importance of inclusion and diversity.
As the only openly gay official, Nigel Owens has overcome the stigma of homosexuality in rugby to become perhaps its most famous referee. In the hyper-masculine world of sport, Nigel has excelled as famously fair and respected, winning the support of fans, players and commentators alike. It hasn’t all been smooth-sailing. Nigel struggled with his sexuality for many years prior to coming out, but has encouraging messages for anyone else in the same position today. He also maintains a sense of humour on the pitch as this video proves!
Having had three UK Top 10 hits with his pop band ‘The Communards’, Richard Coles trained for the priesthood. Now rarely off the television and radio, Reverend Richard Coles is arguably a gay icon. Coles speaks about his own experiences in broadcasting and the church and speaks about the importance of acceptance and diversity.
The presenter of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, Supersize vs Superskinny and The Ugly Face of Beauty is a practising doctor on Harley Street and expert in sexual health and infectious diseases. When speaking, Jessen covers all forms of wellbeing, including coming to terms with one’s sexuality.
When Gareth Thomas came out in 2009 he became the first openly gay player in Rugby Union. This didn’t shadow his playing career however, as Wales’ most-capped player at the time.
The radio DJ has millions of avid listeners to his drive-time BBC Radio 1 show. While openly gay, Scott likes to joke on his show that he “doesn’t have much luck with the ladies”.
Baroness (Shami) Chakrabarti
While not LGBT themselves, some keynote speakers are closely aligned to the community and talk about the importance of inclusion and acceptance of people of all orientations. The former director of Liberty has spent her entire career fighting for the civil rights of minorities including LGBT people. She speaks about her lessons in running the campaigning organisation and how civil liberties and rights need to always be a top priority. She now serves as Shadow Attorney General in the Labour Shadow Cabinet.
If you’re looking to book any of these LGBT speakers, or have an event in mind, get in touch with us and we can help.