London prepares for glittering gay awards ceremony

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Next week the Victoria and Albert Museum will host one of the highlights of the gay calendar – the Stonewall Awards.

Tickets for Thursday’s event sold out over a month ago, and A-List gays, sports people, performers, politicians, celebrities and TV stars will be out in force for the annual ceremony, which will be hosted by MTV and T4 presenter Anthony Crank.

The Stonewall Awards, sponsored by Barclays, are designed to celebrate the range of positive contributions being made by individuals and organisations to the lives of gay people in Britain.

The Feeling vocalist Dan Gillespie-Sells has been nominated for Entertainer of the Year along with Coronation Street actor Antony Cotton, comedian Sue Perkins, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and rapper Mz Fontaine.

Other nominess include Mariella Frostrup for Journalist of the Year and Victoria Wood’s ITV drama Housewife 49 for Broadcast or Broadcaster of the Year.

“The awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of so many individuals – not only gay people, but straight people too – whose support for equality makes an incredible difference to the lives of millions of lesbian and gay people up and down the country,” explained Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall.

This year will once again see three of the ten accolades – ‘Hero of the Year,’ ‘Bigot of the Year’ and the ‘Stonewall Barclays Community Group of the Year’ – being chosen by a vote of Stonewall supporters from across Britain.

The Community Group of the Year will receive a cheque for five thousand pounds to support its work.

Seven other award-winners, such as Sportsperson of the Year and Entertainer of the Year, will be selected by a panel including BBC presenter Clare Balding and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini.

Voting by Stonewall members has been brisk.

“We have had more than 3000 votes from around the country and we are still counting,” Michaela Greene, events manager for Stonewall, told

Frontrunner for Bigot of the Year is the Bishop of Hereford, Anthony Priddis, who withdrew a job offer to a youth worker because he was gay, after subjecting him to a series of humiliating personal questions.

Ben Summerskill told

“We have asked if the Bishop of Hereford will be attending and he claims he is holiday – let us pray that he is not in breach of the ninth commandment.”

The other nominations for ‘Bigot of the Year’ are:

The Archbishop of Birmingham – spoke out against our new goods and services protections for gay people, threatening to close welfare services and adoption agencies unless the Government agreed to sweeping exemptions.

Jeremy Clarkson – Top Gear presenter and journalist, refused to apologise after being reprimanded by BBC bosses for derogatory gay jibes on primetime TV.

Patricia McKeever – secretive editor of the Catholic Truth website and newsletter. Co-ordinates a relentless campaign to ‘name and shame’ gay Catholic priests, and has been widely condemned for conducting a ‘witch-hunt.’

Ian Paisley Jnr – minister in the new Northern Ireland Executive. Said he was “repulsed” by lesbian and gay people – has since refused to apologise.

The shortlist for ‘Hero of the Year’ – “an individual who has supported, encouraged, inspired or achieved the most for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals” – is:

John Amaechi – former professional NBA basketball star, spoke powerfully earlier this year about life as a closeted gay athlete sparking debate on both sides of the Atlantic on homophobia in sport.

Sgt Julie Barnes-Frank – one of the first openly lesbian or gay police officers, founded Greater Manchester Police Lesbian and Gay Staff Affiliation in 1998 which now offers 24-hour advice and support to LGB police staff.

Beth Ditto – lead singer of rock band The Gossip and outspoken advocate of gay equality, combines non-conformity with mainstream appeal, penning an advice column for The Guardian and nominated NME Sexiest Woman 2007.

Antony Grey – veteran equality campaigner. As Secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society played a key role in securing the 1967 Sexual Offences Act to partly decriminalise homosexual acts.

Lisa Power – veteran of human rights campaigns for over 25 years, first as a writer and activist for lesbian and gay rights and since the 1980s, in HIV and sexual health. The first person to speak at the UN on gay equality.

In the category of Broadcast or Broadcaster of the Year, BBC sci-fi hit Doctor Who, Channel 4’s teen soap Hollyoaks, ITV drama Housewife 49, Capital Radio show Lucio’s Drivetime and digital radio station Gaydar Radio are the nominees.

Two senior Cabinet ministers are in contention for the coveted Politician of the Year.

Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain are up against Treasury minister Angela Eagle, former Tory equality spokesperson Eleanor Laing, gay peer Lord Alli and MSP Iain Smith.

GT, formerly Gay Times, The Guardian, the londonpaper, G3 magazine and the BBC website are nominated for Publication of the Year.

Sportsperson of the Year nominees are football pundit and ex-player Graeme Le Saux, snowboarder Jo Chastney, international rugby referee Nigel Owens, the London Lesbian Kickabouts and the bid team for the London 2008 International Gay and Lesbian Football World Championships.

Nominated for writer of the Year are Paul Burston, Russell T Davies, Val McDermid, Charlotte Mendelson and Louise Welsh.

In the category of Journalist of the Year, Mariella Frostrup of The Observer, Philip Hensher of The Independent, Tim Teeman of The Times, Zoe Williams of The Guardian and editor Tony Grew are the nominees.