The Pink Scotland List: the pride of the nation

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Phil WilkinsonScottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
EQUAL marriage is a landmark victory in the fight for equality on the grounds of sexuality. To mark 
the new law, Dani Garavelli celebrates 50 LGBT Scots who are making a difference to the life of the nation

FOLLOWING Holyrood’s historic decision this month to pass the Equal Marriage Act, Scotland on Sunday has drawn up the Pink Scotland List marking the contribution made by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to the cultural, political and public life of the nation.

Any such list is subjective, but we have chosen people who are making an impact through excellence in their own professions and/or by virtue of their campaigning on LGBT issues. They include prominent figures from the world of politics, the law, the media, the third sector and the arts. In celebrating their achievements, we hope to highlight how much progress has been made in the fight for equality, but also to expose those fields – such as sport and business – in which openly LGBT people are still under-represented.

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We also hope those on the list will serve as role models for those young Scots who may be struggling with their sexual identity. We have defined Scots quite simply as people who live or were born in Scotland.


Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
A former BBC Scotland journalist, Davidson’s election as leader of the Scottish Tories in 2011 at the age of 32, beating favourite Murdo Fraser, came as a surprise to many party traditionalists. Though Annabel Goldie was a hard act to follow, the kickboxer and former Territorial Army signaller has established herself as a force in Holyrood, and as a symbol of a more modern and contemporary Tory party. Earlier this month, she spoke powerfully in parliament on equal marriage in the face of opposition from some of her own MSPs.


Leader of Glasgow City Council

As elected leader of Scotland’s biggest city, Matheson is one of the most powerful men in the country. This year that position carries even more weight when he welcomes athletes and dignitaries from around the world to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Since leading Labour councillors to a comprehensive local election victory over the SNP in 2012, Matheson has shown an ability to weather personal controversy and repeatedly defy those who predicted his political demise.



One of the country’s top legal minds, Derek Ogg was at the forefront of the campaign to legalise homosexuality in Scotland in the 1970s.

A former Assistant Principal Advocate Depute, he led the prosecution in the high-profile trial of wife-killer Malcolm Webster, jailed for 30 years for killing his first wife in a car fire and attempting to kill his second in a staged crash. Since stepping down as head of the National Sexual Crimes Unit in 2011 he has returned to practise at the defence bar.


Director of the British Museum

Glasgow-born MacGregor’s interest in art was sparked when he saw Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross at the city’s Kelvingrove Museum as a child. Described by Courtauld director, the late, Anthony Blunt as “the most brilliant pupil” he ever taught, MacGregor turned around the fortunes of the once-ailing British Museum. He presented the BBC Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects.


Poet Laureate

The first female Poet Laureate, and the first Scot to hold the post, Duffy’s talent for addressing powerful issues such as love, loss, gender and oppression in language that is both lyrical and accessible has won her a global audience. As Laureate she has written poems on an eclectic range of topics including the MPs’ expenses scandal and David Beckham’s Achilles tendon injury.


Fashion designer

One of the biggest names in the industry, Kane won Womenswear Designer of the Year at the 2013 British Fashion Awards. In addition to creating his own label, now part of Kering, he consults at Versace and is part of Atelier Swarovski, a collective of designers who create jewellery collections for Swarovski.


Government minister

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Now the minister for local government and planning, Mackay joined the SNP at 16 and was elected to Renfrewshire Council at 21, making him – at that time – Scotland’s youngest ever male councillor. The MSP for Renfrewshire North and West, he is credited with a keen intelligence and tipped as a future leadership contender. He came out as gay 
after separating from his wife earlier this year.


Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland

Formerly in charge of the Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampton, Sansom looks set to bring a dynamic and provocative vision to his latest role following his appointment last year. His announcement that a trilogy of history plays about James I, II and III of Scotland would form the centrepiece of a 2014 programme at the Edinburgh International Festival was greeted with much enthusiasm.


World champion cyclist

Obree was World Hour Record Holder twice and World Pursuit Champion twice, and is famous for his innovations in home-made bike design and unconventional technique. After he came out in 2011, he said his struggle with his sexual identity had fuelled his long-standing mental health problems. Last year, he broke the prone bike world speed record on his aerodynamic Beastie bike, notching up 56.62mph.


Director, the Equality Network

One of the founding members of the Equality Network, Hopkins has been a leading campaigner on behalf of LGBT rights for 27 years and has played a key role in securing most of the LGBT-related legislative changes that have taken place in Scotland, including the repeal of Section 2A (Section 28 as it was known in the rest of the United Kingdom), an equal age of consent, civil partnership, adoption laws and same-sex marriage.


Political campaigner

Having served as Scotland’s first dedicated diplomat at the British Embassy in Washington, Stewart is a political pioneer. A graduate of St Andrews University, she was depute head of the Scottish Executive’s press office and spent seven years as head of corporate communications at Glasgow University before being appointed communications director at Yes Scotland. Despite leaving this post, she remains a powerful voice in the referendum debate.



Describing himself as a Scottish elf trapped inside a middle-aged man’s body, Cumming has forged a successful career on stage, screen and TV. Perhaps best known for his performances as Emcee in Cabaret and Eli Gold in The Good Wife, he played all the roles in the National Theatre of Scotland’s much-lauded production of Macbeth, which transferred to Broadway.


Newspaper columnist, Scotland on Sunday

Scotland’s first openly gay newspaper columnist, Black writes on social issues and popular culture and is a powerful voice on gender, sexuality and domestic violence. Formerly editor of the Big Issue, she joined Scotland on Sunday as a features writer after a stint teaching at the Scottish Centre for Journalism Studies. She was recently short-listed in Zero Tolerance’s Write to End Violence awards.


Co-convener, Scottish Green Party

Former sexual health worker Harvie has made a significant impact on the Scottish Parliament since his surprise election in 2003, largely as a result of taking the initiative in the fight for civil partnerships and LGBT equality. The co-convener of the Greens, he has also campaigned against rogue landlords, and for football fans’ rights. He is a leading figure in the Yes Scotland campaign.


Church of Scotland minister

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When Rennie was appointed to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen in 2009, he became the Kirk’s first actively gay minister in charge of a congregation, a move which ignited an intense row over homosexual clergy. Last year, the General Assembly voted to allow congregations the right to accept actively-gay ministers.


General Secretary
of the Scottish Labour Party

Before taking on his current role, Price was head of public affairs for the RSPB in Scotland, but he cut his political teeth working as a Labour party organiser in the North-East and as constituency office manager for MP Anne Begg. As the referendum approaches, he has a key role to play in setting out the party’s vision for Scotland’s future.


Secretary and treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

Before taking on his current role, Baxter was principal of his own architectural consultancy and development director of Glasgow Building Preservation Trust. He has lectured on urbanism, written a history of Glasgow Green and co-authored Pat Lally’s life story. In his time in charge, RIAS has launched its prestigious architectural awards and seen the Scottish Government designate 2016 as the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.



Raised in Inverness, Smith is the celebrated author of novels such as Hotel World, which was short-listed for the Orange and Booker prizes, and The Accidental, which won the Whitbread Award. Now living in Cambridge, she is famous for a playful style that experiments with form to provide unexpected insights into the lives of her characters. Her most recent book, Artful, is a collection of four comparative literature lectures bound together within a fictional framework exploring loss.


Former ambassador

Ex-diplomat Clark’s appointment as British ambassador to Luxembourg in 2004 was groundbreaking as he and his partner became the first gay ambassadorial couple to have an audience with the Queen. After another diplomatic posting in North America, Clark, who grew up in East Kilbride, is now managing director at Clear Coaching and Consulting in Bath.


Director of the Edinburgh International Festival

Appointed in 2006 after a stint as a festival director in Melbourne, in his native Australia, Mills has made his mark on the EIF, producing loosely themed programmes which are both imaginative and unpredictable. All eyes will be on this year’s event which is his last. After it is over, Mills plans to stay on in Scotland to write an opera.



The first pupil from a state school to attend St Hilda’s College in Oxford, McDermid is a successful crime writer whose characters include psychologist Tony Hill, the protagonist of several novels adapted for ITV’s Wire in the Blood series. Originally from Kirkcaldy, the former tabloid reporter and Raith Rovers fan now lives in Northumberland.


Political writer

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Journalist and commentator Torrance is a columnist and author of political biographies, his subjects including David Steel, Alex Salmond, and the definitive history of the post of Secretary of State for Scotland. His most recent book is the Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum. On TV he is known for his incisive analysis and collection of natty jumpers.



Jo, formerly John, Clifford is one of Scotland’s most respected playwrights whose best-known work includes Losing Venice and Jesus, Queen of Heaven. Having spent the first 50-odd years of her life as a man, she began transition after the death of her long-term partner and former Scotland on Sunday columnist Sue Innes in 2005. Together with the Scottish Transgender Alliance, she helped found TRANSforming Arts, Scotland’s first transgender-specific creative expression group.


Director of Wire Media

As co-owner of a public relations company which represents clients as diverse as Bafta Scotland, the drinks giant Whyte and Mackay, promoters DF Concerts and the West Kilbride-born violinist Nicola Benedetti, life is never boring for Beattie. Career highs include walking out of a toilet cubicle at T in the Park to find her hero Debbie Harry of Blondie fame washing her hands. Harry looked at her via the mirror and said: “There’s no soap.” Beattie is one of the few business figures on this list.


Poet and novelist

Born to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father and adopted by a white Scots couple, Kay was encouraged to write by Alasdair Gray. Her poetry books the Adoption Papers and Other Lovers and her novel Trumpet, inspired by transgender jazz musician Billy Tipton, garnered literary awards. Kay also wrote Red Dust Road about her search for her natural parents, and is the author of Ma Broon’s Vagina Monologues.


Chief executive, Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability

Before taking over as head of SCLD last year, Creegan was the director of corporate affairs for NatCen Social Research in London. A passionate campaigner and blogger on issues such as religion and discrimination, Creegan also chairs the board of trustees at Scottish Adoption.



The comic who once described growing up gay in Glasgow as being “as easy as being a vegan abattoir worker” chucked her job as a corporate lawyer to do stand-up at 30. She now enjoys huge success, writing and performing her own shows and appearing on radio and TV quizzes.


Radio presenter

Dundee-born Mair rose through the ranks of the BBC presenting Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland, before moving to London to host the morning show Eddie Mair Live. Now presenter of Radio 4’s daily magazine show PM, he also fills in on Newsnight and Any Questions?


Policy co-ordinator, the Equality Network

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Having started the UK’s first major campaign for equal marriage with the Equality Network while still at Edinburgh University in 2008, French has played a crucial role in securing one of the most progressive pieces of equality legislation in the world earlier this month.



Since the Cutting Room won the Crime Writers’ Association Creasey Dagger for best first crime novel, Welsh has produced a succession of short stories and psychological thrillers. Her latest novel A Lovely Way To Burn is due out next month and she is co-curating the Empire Café, a project exploring Scotland’s relationship with the slave trade, as part of the Commonwealth 2014 Cultural Programme.


Producer, Glasgay!

During the nine years he has been in charge, the annual Glasgay! festival has grown into a month-long celebration at some 20 venues, attracting 35,000 visitors. He is also a director of a local enterprise initiative which promotes tourism in the Merchant City.


Episcopalian clergyman

One of the leading figures in the Scottish Episcopal Church, Holdsworth has campaigned on LGBT and human rights throughout his ministry. The rector and provost of the Cathedral of St Mary Virgin in Glasgow, he once caused controversy by inviting pro-gay Catholics to worship at his church.


Manager, Scottish Transgender Alliance

At the vanguard of the fight for transgender and intersex equality, Morton has provided expertise to the Council of Europe and played a leading role in developing the NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocol. He has worked to ensure Scotland now has some of the most trans-inclusive equality laws in Europe.


Political consultant

Formerly senior political adviser to Jack McConnell during his time as first minister, Freeman is a member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and director of the consultancy firm Freeman Associates. She was awarded an OBE for services to criminal justice having set up Apex Scotland, an organisation which helps make ex-offenders more employable. She is currently an advisor to SNP education minister Mike Russell, and is co-founder of Women for Independence.



After creating an array of memorable characters in the sketch show Chewin’ the Fat, the one-time DJ was given her own TV series, The Karen Dunbar Show. She is also known for her spirited renditions of Tam o’Shanter and for her annual performances in pantomime at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow.


Director, Stonewall Scotland

Macfarlane left his job as head of communications with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to join Stonewall Scotland in 2011, just as the debate over Equal Marriage was hotting up. In his time there, he has been at the forefront of the campaign, lobbying MSPs and shoring up support for the new act.


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Lifelong learning and creative development manager, Glasgow Women’s Library

Formerly a lecturer at the city’s art school, Patrick co-founded the Glasgow Women’s Library in 1991. Thanks in no small part to her drive and vision, it has grown from an unfunded grassroots initiative into a vibrant information hub, housing a lending library, the national lesbian archive and artefacts relating to women’s lives.



Writer of acclaimed novels including Negative Space and Ever Fallen in Love, which was short-listed for the Green Carnation prize for LGBT authors, Strachan collaborated with composer Craig Armstrong on the opera Lady from the Sea and is editing an anthology of work by LGBT writers from Scotland.



Most famous for playing Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, Greenock-born Wilson worked as a research scientist at Glasgow’s Stobhill Hospital before switching to acting at the age of 27. He has served as rector of Glasgow University and is one of the patrons of the Scottish Youth Theatre.



The Scottish-American actor, whose family emigrated from Glasgow to the US in 1975, first came to prominence as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood. He performs in musicals in London’s West End and on Broadway and regularly appears in Christmas panto at Glasgow’s SECC.



Award-winning arts and entertainment writer Ramaswamy spent seven years on Scotland on Sunday where her long-running Spectrum magazine column, peppered with anecdotes about her mother Ma Ramaswamy and her sister Tiny-but-Deadly, gained a devoted following. She is currently taking time out from journalism to look after her baby son.



When he became an MSP in 2011, at the age of 28, the St Andrews University graduate was the youngest person to have won election to Holyrood in a constituency seat. Though a relative newbie, he has impressed in his contributions to the debate on equal marriage.


Senior law lecturer, University of Edinburgh.

Cowan’s research focuses on gender and sexuality, with a particular interest in criminal law and asylum studies. She was invited to speak about her work in Canada and Australia and is now investigating the impact of law on transgender people in Scotland, Canada and the US.



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As a journalist with the Times for the past ten years, O’Donnell has promoted positive coverage of transgender issues in the Murdoch-owned newspaper and elsewhere. A mother of two, O’Donnell is now night editor of the newspaper’s Scotland edition.


Chief executive, Voluntary Action Scotland

The first head of the network body for Scotland’s 32 local third-sector support agencies, established in 2009, Irving previously worked for Sense Scotland. He also spent several years as the director of Stonewall Scotland.



Having come to prominence through the stand-up circuit, Cameron was one of the first openly gay comedians to be make regular appearances on British television and took part in the first series of I’m A Celebrity …Get Me Out Of Here! She has also written a book about growing up as a lesbian in Musselburgh and has appeared on Celebrity Wifeswap.


Journalist and human rights campaigner

Chair of Trans Media Watch, a charity that aims to improve media coverage of trans and intersex issues, and director of content of the movie website Eye for Film, Kermode is also a film-maker and public speaker and is heavily into the Glasgow goth scene.



Singer-songwriter McDonald has been a fixture on the live music scene in Scotland since the 1980s and has developed a wide international following. She tours regularly and last year performed at Glasgow Barrowland with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her second album God’s Home Movie and the release of her ninth, HOME.


Chief executive, LGBT Youth Scotland

Having worked his way up through the ranks, McMillan is now the head of the national charity working with LGBT youngsters. With ten years experience in human rights and equality campaigning, he is also co-founder and managing partner of respectme, Scotland’s anti-bullying service.



Craig Hill’s showbiz journey began when he won a talent competition in his native East Kilbride at the age of ten impersonating Cleo Laine. As a stand-up whose trademark is his often-colourful leather kilts, he continues to tour in Scotland, Europe, Australia and the US.