LGBT Heroes – Day 5
Linda Bellos was born in 1950 and grew up in Brixton in South East London. By the time she was twenty she was married, by 26 she had given birth to two children and at thirty she had ‘come out’. Within the year she had joined the feminist collective Spare Rib and a divorce followed soon after. In 1985 Bellos was elected as a Labour councillor in the London Bourough of Lambeth and a year later she had been elected leader of that council. At the time she was only the second black woman to be elected to lead a London Council.
From the early 80s Bellos had been championing the cause for equality for all, her ideas were progressive and she wasn’t afraid to level criticism even at the organisations she was a member of, including Spare Rib. As a lesbian feminist, Bellos argued strongly that an inclusive approach to women’s issues must take account of social class, minority and majority ethnic identity, disability, sexual identity and religion. This approach at the time was unpopular, but similar modes have since been adopted as the basis of equality law. As a prominent figure of the political left in the mid 1980s, the British tabloid press were vitriolic in their portrayal of Bellos, along with several others, and she was marked as one of the ‘Loony Left’, a phrase coined by the Sun newspaper. This demonisation of her character may have been a factor in her failure to become a parliamentary candidate, most notably for Vauxhall.
Undeterred she went on to win many equality battles for the Black and LGBT communities. She originated Black History Month and was co-chair of both the Southwark LGBT Network and the LGBT Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police. She remains to this day an equality activist and has been a key figure in the mainstreaming of equality in public bodies such as the British Army and the Metropolitan Police. She is a founder member and the current chair of the Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners and is a patron of Broken Rainbow, an organisation that supports LGBT people experiencing domestic violence.
In 2006 she was awarded an OBE for services to diversity, a just recognition of the difference she has made to the equal rights of all minority groups.