Saara Aalto is a singer, songwriter and voice actress. Aalto was a runner-up in ‘The X Factor’ UK. Aalto identifies as lesbian and is engaged to her partner Meri Sopanen. In an interview with Diva Magazine in January 2017, when asked about her relationships, she stated “I’ve always known gender doesn’t matter for me, but now being with a woman, it’s hard to imagine going back to men.” Aalto has signed a recording contract with Sony music and moved to the UK with Sopanen.
TOP 10 LGBT+ CELEBRITY RISING STARS
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
THIS CATEGORY RECOGNISES LGBT+ ‘ONES TO WATCH’, WHO ARE USING THEIR STATUS TO BECOME ROLE MODELS IN THE LGBT+ COMMUNITY.
PAST WINNERS: ROSE & ROSIE, ANDREW HAYDEN-SMITH
Munroe Bergdorf is a DJ, model and transgender activist. She has featured in many fashion campaigns with brands like Uniqlo and Digby Jackson. Bergdorf was also named ‘New Beauty Icon’ in Marie Claire and was included in an ES Magazine article on ‘New Feminist Icons’. She has also appeared in the BBC video ‘Things Not to Say to a Trans Person’ which had over 3 million views. She starred in a documentary entitled ‘My Transgender Life’ where she spoke about the effects on mental health of transitioning. Most recently she made her acting debut in the LGBT+ film ‘Almost Saw the Sunshine’.
Shannon Beveridge is a YouTube sensation with around half a million followers. She started her channel ‘nowthisisliving’ with her then partner Camden ‘Cammie’ Scott to share her coming out story. In 2016 Beveridge began her movie career when she played the character Jessie in the LGBT+ short film ‘Piece of Cake’, also starring and directed by Ella Lentini. She was nominated in the Shorty Awards under the ‘LGBTQ+ YouTube Channel category’.
Mhairi Black is a Scottish politician who became the youngest member of the House of Commons when she was elected in 2015. She openly talks about her sexuality and the impact on parliament and when asked about coming out, Black’s response was ‘I’ve never been in’. She was one of the most vocal LGBT+ MPs from the SNP that expressed their support for same-sex marriage prior to the referendum in Ireland.
Dino Fetscher is an actor best known for his character Aiden in the Channel 4 television series Banana and Cucumber. He was winner of Mr Gay UK in 2008. Most recently he starred in the ITV series Paranoid. Dino is openly gay and in an interview with Attitude magazine in 2015 he stated “I feel a great responsibility to be honest about myself, and have the courage to stand up and be who I am, to hopefully help change things even more. If that means I might miss out on certain roles then so be it. I believe choosing to conceal an element of your life like that sends out such a negative message; there are people killing themselves over this. For me, there is an obligation to think about the potential consequences of my actions.”
Matt Lister is a slalom canoeist who won two bronze medals in the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. He came out as a gay man in 2012 and in 2016, he announced his retirement from the sport. Lister currently works as an LGBT ambassador for the British Athletes Commission. He is involved with LGBT rights charity Stonewall, volunteering his time as a school role model. His coming out story can be found on rucomingout.com.
Calum Scott is a singer and was a finalist on the 2015 series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. His self-released cover version of Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my own’ charted at number one in more than six countries. Scott is currently signed to Capitol Records and is working on a debut album, which is to include a song about coming out as gay to his father. In August 2015, in an interview with Attitude magazine, Scott talked about his struggle with coming out, saying: “I think anyone going through it needs reassurance and needs to be told what I’ve been told: ’that it’s not as much of a big deal anymore, and people are okay with it now’.”
George Shelley is a singer, songwriter, radio presenter and actor. He is best known as a former member of the boy band Union J, which rose to fame on the television series ‘The X Factor’. In 2016 Shelley uploaded a video to YouTube in response to questions over his sexuality, during which he stated that he is attracted to men and women but that he doesn’t want to be ‘labelled’. Stonewall supported George’s decision not to label himself, commenting that ”seeing an increasing number of celebrities do this [not wanting to be labeled] is great as it means that more young people feel more comfortable being themselves. Seeing media outlets mislabel or presume labels of someone, however, does nothing to help this, and can be incredibly damaging.”
Stephanie Hirst is a radio and television presenter, best known for hosting the Hit40UK show. She has also presented on Lorraine, BBC Breakfast, BBC Inside Out and written for The Independent and The Telegraph. In 2014 Hirst announced on BBC Radio 5 Live, that she was in the process of undergoing gender reassignment. In 2014 and 2015 Stephanie was included in The Independent On Sunday ‘Rainbow List’. In 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University for her work in promoting LGBT+ rights.
Annie Wallace is an actress best known for playing the character of Sally St Clare in the Channel 4 soap, Hollyoaks. Wallace previously worked in a consultative role for the character of Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap Coronation Street. She had her breaking role on the Channel 4 series Shameless in 2011 and was a finalist in auditions for a BBC’s Trans Comedy Award pilot. Wallace has been listed in the prestigious Rainbow List, Pride Power List, Diva Power List, and the USA OUT100, as one of the country’s most influential LGBT people. She became the first ever transgender actress to be nominated for a BAFTA award, as ‘Best Actress – Television‘ in the Scottish BAFTA Awards.