Great LezBritain: Celebrating our favorite lesbian and bisexual British ladies

Fiona Shaw Actress

While Shaw is not on record anywhere saying the immortal words "Yes, I am," she has consistently appeared on the Independent On Sunday’s Pink List, which requires prior approval from the listees before being published. The Irish actress is arguably one of the most respected thespians of her generation. She is at her best when working with out theatre director Deborah Warner, which includes leading roles in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children and The Good Woman of Szechuan.  However, despite Shaw’s critically acclaimed roles in the theatre, we must admit that, to us, she will always be in equal parts Miss Elspeth Lomax from Three Men and A Little Lady and Harry Potter’s Aunt Petunia.  

Jane Hill Newsreader

In the UK, our newsreaders must present themselves with a reassuring, intellectual and measured sensibility — unless of course you are Sky NewsKay Burley. The faces and voices of our presenters are watched and listened to with an often unregistered amount of intensity everyday. So when Jane Hill, one of BBC News’ most senior broadcasters, casually mentioned her girlfriend in an in-house staff magazine, there was a concern that she could be newly represented in a way that was totally irrelevant to her day job. But, barely a viewer battered an eyelid and apart from a couple of days of press mentions, it was business as usual for Hill. When we think back to the days when newspapers were threatening to out Sandi Toksvig in the ’80s, this is certainly a hoorah for progress.

Saffron Burrows Actress

Saffron Burrows is not just a pretty face, although of course she is a very pretty face. She first came to mainstream attention with her role in Circle Of Friends in 1995 and can currently be seen in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. As well as acting, she was the Vice President of the National Civil Rights Movement for a number of years and a campaigner for disabled rights and equality.

She confirmed her bisexuality in an interview in 1999 and was named the 90th most influential gay person in the UK in The Independent On Sunday’s Pink List in 2006. She was linked to Fiona Shaw when they played lovers in the National Theatre’s production of Jeanette Winterson’s The PowerBook, although neither actress ever confirmed the relationship.

Sarah Waters Writer

She has been wearing the crown as king of lesbian fiction since Tipping the Velvet was published in 1998 and arguably became the most important piece of historical gay fiction of all time. But because her writing pulls all readers into intense, rich and atmospheric worlds, she has successfully managed to drop the "gay writer" tag to simply become one of the UK’s most popular authors. She is one of a very few number of writers whose books are not just slotted into the LGBT section at the back of the bookshop, but are firmly on the bestseller piles.

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