Stonewall celebrates gay friendly Britain

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Writers, broadcasters, politicians, campaigners, actors and actresses will gather at the Royal Academy of Arts tonight to celebrate the contribution of gay and lesbian personalities as well as gay friendly public figures.

The event marks gay charity Stonewall’s first award’s ceremony, assesses this year’s nominees.

Broadcast/ Broadcaster of the year

Channel 4 fights it out against digital channel Living TV and gay dramas The Line of Beauty, Sugar Rush and Waterloo Road. Predicts: Channel 4

Channel 4 has recently brought groundbreaking gay and lesbian drama into the mainstream with successful shows such as Queer As Folk, and Sugar Rush.

It also broke boundaries with its recent documentary on gay Muslims.

Many of its programmes feature gay characters in roles where there sexuality is not central but still important such as Shameless.

At the end of November the station is broadcasting shows “shattering preconceptions about gay youth.”

The channel is also launching a gay season in 2007.

Entertainer of the Year

Torchwood’s John Barrowman will battle comedian Alan Carr, Sugar Rush star Olivia Hallinan, TV presenter Paul O’Grady and singer Will Young. Predicts: John Barrowman

John Barrowman plays bisexual Captain Jack Harkness in the Doctor Who spin off. This is another example of bringing gay lifestyle into the mainstream and creating a positive portrayal of being lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Journalist of the Year

This will be between freelancer Adrian Gillan, Johann Hari from the Independent and Evening Standard, Jonathan Oliver of the Mail on Sunday, Matthew Parris of The Times and The Sun agony aunt Deidre Sanders. Predicts: Johann Hari

This is a close one between Matthew Parris and Johan Hari, two great political writers, but Hari just pips it with brave, critical analysis of the gay lifestyle and persona.

Politician of the Year

A mix of prominent gay rights supporters between Labour peer Waheed Ali, Baroness Cathy Ashton, Assembly Member Jane Hutt, Tory vice-chairperson Margot James and Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams. Predicts: Stephen Williams

All nominees have individually contributed immensely in getting gay issues into politics. But recently Stephen Williams has brought the issue of homophobic bullying into Parliament and was vocal in his opposition to Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles’ negative use of the word “gay.”

Publication of the Year

This section has some real heavyweights with The Economist, the Guardian, and The Independent challenging lesbian magazine Diva and this website Predicts:We will have to leave this one to the judges I’m afraid.

Writer of the Year

Some great reads amongst Jake Arnott’s Johnny Come Home, Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories, Carol Ann Duffy’s Rapture, Ali Smith’s The Accidental, and Sarah Waters’ [i]Night Watch. Predicts: Sarah Waters

Ms Waters did well to gain a Booker prize nomination and should be rewarded for bringing lesbian fiction into prominence with top novel Tipping The Velvet.

Hero of the Year

Some highly courageous campaigners between Adnan Ali, openly gay Muslim and founder of Al Fatiha group for LGB Muslims., Maureen Chadwick, co-founder of shed Productions, who continue to produce gay-friendly TV such as Bad Girls and Waterloo Road, Sheri Dobrowski, the mother of Jody Dobrowski, who spoke out against homophobia after her son’s killers were sentenced to 28 years,

Reverend Debbie and Elaine Gaston, amongst the first lesbian and gay couples to have their civil partnership, while also offering a positive role model for gay people in the Church, Jackie Lewis, veteran activist and equality campaigner for three decades and co-chair of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (Europe). Predicts: Sheri Dobrowski

While many grieving parents would hysterically call for their child’s killers to be strung up, Sheri has instead campaigned for hate crime laws and an end to homophobia.

She is an inspiration to all of us.

Bully of the Year

A bucket of bigotry between Tom Forrest, owner of the Cromsaig Guest House in Scotland which continues to run a campaign to exclude gay couples from hotels and guest houses. He is against Radio One DJ Chris Moyles who regularly uses ‘gay’ as a term of abuse on a show targeted at young people and Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former head of the Muslim Council of Britain who has offensively linked lesbian and gay people with ‘illness and disease’.

Fellow nominees include Lowri Turner, TV presenter and journalist, who claimed gay people were not fit for public office, Carol Sarler, a supposedly liberal journalist who denounced lesbian and gay licence-payers who thought they were underserved by the BBC as ‘a bunch of truculent poofs’ and The Archbishop of Westminster, who sacked his press officer because he was gay and was then obliged to pay £20,000 compensation for breaking the law. Predicts: Sir Iqbal Sacranie

A hard choice but Sir Iqbal’s remarks arguably are more offensive considering his public position and the arena he chose to make it in.

The awards are held tonight at the Royal Academy of Arts, hosted by Sir Ian McKellen.