The heroes who made 2017 so much better

2017 has been a year of highs and lows, but as Christmas is a time of celebration we thought we should take the time to celebrate some of the LGBT+ heroes and allies who have made the year a little less bleak.

1. Maajid Nawaz

Radio host Maajid Nawaz has been a stunning LGBT ally in 2017, repeatedly slamming homophobic contributors on his LBC show. 

Due to his allyship this year, Nawaz was given a PinkNews Broadcast award jointly with Lorraine Kelly.

After receiving the award, Nawaz dedicated it to any LGBTQ person who has been persecuted and hit out at “bigots” who would be confused by a Muslim winning an award for promoting LGBTQ issues.

2. Andrea Jenkins

(YouTube/Victory Fund)

(YouTube/Victory Fund)

Andrea Jenkins made history this November as the first transgender woman of colour to be elected to any office in the United States.

Jenkins won against her three opponents in a landslide, winning 73% of the first-choice votes in Minneapolis’s Eighth Ward to give her a place on the City Council.

3. Penny Wong

One of the leading voices in the fight for same-sex marriage in Australia, Penny Wong was previously Australia’s first out lesbian cabinet minister.

During the debate on same-sex marriage, the out gay Labour frontbench Senator delivered a powerful speech explaining why plans for a public vote are nothing more than a “stunt” to save a divided government.

She continued to campaign for same-sex marriage and was one of the strongest voices in favour of legalising it up to the historic public vote and parliamentary approval this year.

When same-sex marriage passed in Australia this year, Wong who has two children with her partner, said: “I am feeling happy.”

4. Danica Roem

(Photo: Youtube / Comedy Central)

In November, Danica Roem became the first transgender person to be elected as a state official in the US by beating a virulent transphobe.

The incoming Virginia House of Delegates member ran a campaign against 26-year-incumbent Bob Marshall, who spent his campaign refusing to debate Roem on policy issues and instead attacked her gender identity.

5. This entire city council made up of LGBT+ people

Christy Holstege and Lisa Middleton, two councillors in Palm Springs (Photo: Facebook)

A California city made headlines this November when it was revealed that every member of the newly elected city council was LGBT.

Palm Springs in California elected a council made up of two gay men, a transgender woman and a bisexual woman.

6. A gay dad who wrote a letter to his adopted son

(Photo: Facebook / Deborah Araujo)

Deberth Araujo, who adopted William with his partner Guilherme Gatto in the same year that his father died, thanked the child for “saving him”.

In the beautiful letter, Deberth wrote to their son, “you were our best choice,” and said, ” For a while I forgot that, but you rescued me, saved me in every way possible and taught me what it is to be a father.”

7. This five-year-old because of his reaction to his brother coming out

Oliver Potter, a YouTuber, recorded his coming out to his little brother Alfie and posted it to his channel.

In the now viral video, Oliver asks Alfie what he thinks about love, and how Alfie would feel if his big brother married a man.

The five-year-old immediately and excitedly responds: “If you marry a man it’s going to be so cool… I saw in one movie a man was in love with another man and everyone was saying cool, cool.”

8. Susan Calman


Strictly Come Dancing star Calman became a fan favourite after appearing on the show.

The Scottish comedian has won followers for her sheer joy in being on the hit BBC One dancing reality show. 

But despite being called a “fat rug muncher” and a whole load of homophobic criticism, she kept her head held high and represented on the hit BBC show.

She responded to criticism with a gif of Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones saying “I’m a queen”.

Susan Calman hits out at Twitter trolls (Twitter)

Susan Calman hits out at Twitter trolls (Twitter)

She added: “That won’t stop me dancing. It’s the reason I’m doing Strictly.”

Continuing: “That’s the joy of being on Strictly. Don’t hide away, defeat the haters through the medium of dance.”

9. Vogue model Hanne Gaby Odiele


Hanne Gaby Odiele became one of the most high profile celebrities to come out as intersex when she came out in January.

She then began advocating for intersex people and issues, speaking vocally against the surgeries that many intersex children often undergo.

Speaking to USA Today in February, Odiele said: “It is time for intersex people to come out of the shadows, claim our status, let go of shame, and speak out against the unnecessary and harmful surgeries many of us were subjected to as children.”

10. Leyna Bloom


Transgender model Leyna Bloom made history this year with her appearence in Vogue India.

Bloom was the first non-white transgender person to ever appear in the esteemed fashion bible. She said that she hopes to show the fashion world and magazines can embrace people of all descriptions.

“This is an example to other brands that it works,” Bloom said.

11. Lily Madigan


Lily Madigan, a 19-year-old teenager was subjected to at least five transphobic articles from The Times newspaper, along with hundreds of messages of abuse online after she was elected women’s officer of her local Labour party.

However, she has been resilient throughout the hateful backlash and has future plans to be the first transgender MP of the Labour party.

12. Munroe Bergdorf

(Photo by munroebergdorf/Imstagram)

(Photo by munroebergdorf/Imstagram)

Model and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf made waves this year after L’Oréal for fired her after she made comments on Facebook about white privilege.

Bergdorf was set to be L’Oréal’s first transgender model, prior to her firing.

She then went on to work with make up brand Illamasqua and used her expanded platform for good, recently schooling noted transphobe Piers Morgan on racial abuse and the experiences of transgender people on the internet.

13. Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids

Susie Green

Susie Green (L) and Justine Greening (Image by Chris Jepson)

Green was a trustee of Mermaids for ten years, its chair for 3 years and took over as CEO back in January 2016.

Her organisation has in the past year been extremely visible in fighting to protect and support trans young people and their families.

She also publicly supported her trans daughter Jackie, who was thesubject of a documentary about her transition after she hoped to be the first out trans Miss England.

Mermaids also this year stood strong in the face of opposition from right-wing campaigners who accused the group of “bullying”.

These people all made 2017 a little bit better in their own way, we can’t wait to see what great things they do in 2018.

UPDATE: This article has been updated following feedback from PinkNews readers to include a wider range of figures