The LGBTQ+ Folks Who Have Broken Barriers In Their Industries

Although it is 2020 and we have seen enormous progress for the LGBTQ community in terms of equal rights (there are currently 29 countries where same-sex marriage is now legal, for example), there is still a long way to go to combat cultural stigma and discrimination. Much of the backlash both in society and policy-wise comes from a deep-seated prejudice fostered by a number of anti-LGBTQ organizations that have played a major role in pushing for regressive legislation and harmful media narratives. For instance, charitable organizations with Christian beliefs, such as exodus cry, who have recently hit the headlines again, have expressed some controversial views. Yet they are rightly being exposed for this.

Thankfully there are many success stories which are an encouraging reminder that progress will not be stopped. Representation matters, and there have been a number of LGBTQ+ individuals who have been public about their life, battled discrimination, but have also changed culture and become very successful along the way.


Many UK sporting fans will be familiar with Nicola Adams OBE. She has had to overcome both racism and homophobia, yet made it to the pinnacle of her sport and achieved a knighthood. Nicola is a former British professional boxer who competed from 2017 to 2019. When she retired, she was undefeated, holding the WBO female flyweight title. At the Summer Olympics of 2012, she achieved a gold medal. Her partner of two years, Ella Baig, proudly and famously shared an image of Nicola in the boxing ring for all to see. More recently, Nicola was seen partnering Katya Jones in the UK television show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. It was the first time ever that this show featured a same sex couple in the competition. Nicola’s success and overcoming obstacles makes her a role model and much-needed inspiration for many other LGBTQ athletes.


David Geffen, founder of Asylum Records, DGM Records, Geffen Records, and DreamWorks film studio, came out as gay in 1992. In 2007, Out magazine had him listed as one of the fiftieth “Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America”. His art collection includes works of art by De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns. He owns houses in the Jack L. Warner estate of Beverly Hills, in the Hamptons, and one of New York City’s most expensive apartments. As one of the richest people in the entertainment industry, his net worth in the early part of 2020, was reported to be in the billions of dollars. Geffen is a definite success story amidst a corporate culture that is typically white, male and heterosexual. A man of his generation being openly gay is a testament to how the culture is changing.

David Geffen certainly isn’t the only gay person to reach this level of success in business, and you might like to read this article about LGBTQ Billionaires.


While there has been great strides made for queer representation in media as this report shows, there is still a long way to go in terms of trans folks both in front of the camera and behind. One person who has broken barriers and become a household name in the process is writer, producer, activist and director Janet Mock. As a trans woman of color she has broken barriers and generated an enormous amount of cultural shifts with her presence and the conversations she has started. In 2014 she released her first memoir ‘Redefining Realness’ which became a New York Times Bestselling book, and it is also the first book written by a trans person who transitioned as a young person. She produced the 2016 HBO documentary ‘The Trans List’ which featured 11 prominent transgender figures including Laverne Cox, a barrier-breaker herself.

Janet is also a writer, director and producer on the cult hit FX show ‘Pose’, and she is the first trans woman of color hired as a writer for a TV series in history. In 2019, Mock signed a three-year deal with Netflix giving them exclusive rights to her TV series and a first-look option on feature film projects; this made her the first openly transgender woman of color to secure a deal with a major content company. Her presence in pop culture and entertainment is significant given the enormous amount of backlash and violence toward the trans community, in particular trans women of color.

These 3 successful LGBTQ folks are proving that barriers can indeed be broken. Discrimination and prejudice still exist which is why it is important to continue showcasing the success stories, while also elevating the stories and statistics that matter in order to change the tide.