October 25, 2011

IconWomen gain ground in Independent’s annual Pink List

Schoolteacher Elly Barnes topped the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List this year, joining Jessie J, Clare Balding, Sue Perkins, and Heather Peace in the Top 10. However, the list remains broadly male-dominated, with women occupying less than a third of the 101 places.

Last year’s Pink List was criticised for the inclusion of just 30 gay women, with only three reaching the top 20. Bisexual and trans women were completely absent.

A similar number of women can be found on this year’s list, but the presence of five lesbian and bisexual icons in the top 10 shows that a new approach from the Independent on Sunday has yielded somewhat more inclusive results.

For the first time, the paper encouraged readers to nominate the “unsung heroes and heroines who make life as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person better”. This led to the surprise inclusion of Elly Barnes in the list’s top spot. Barnes has worked hard to eliminate homophobic bullying in Stoke Newington School, north London, and holds LGBT History Month events every February.

The new approach also yielded the inclusion of inspirational bisexual women such as pop icon Jessie J and writer Susie Orbach, alongside trans women such as Liberal Democrat politician Sarah Brown (not to be confused with the former Prime Minister’s wife!) and comedian Bethany Black.

As usual, the Pink List has been criticised for making a number of notable omissions. “What kind of a rubbish list is this?” wrote one Independent reader. “Where are the real trail blazers like Peter Thatchell? Rhona Cameron who was the first openly gay woman on British Television, if it wasn’t for people like them where would we be?”

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Milly Shaw

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