GuysLikeU’s regular contributor Hadley talks LGBT role models but pays tribute to two unlikely inspirations.

When you think about LGBT role models, who do you think of? I think often people will turn their minds to the gay men and women who fought for the freedom and safety of future generations. Sir Ian McKellen is an excellent example of such a gay rights pioneer. A founding member of the LGBT charity Stonewall, his work towards a more accepting society doubtless contributed to many of the freedoms that we take for granted today. Sir Ian and his fellow activists showed us to be proud of who we are, as well as encouraging a sense of solidarity amongst the LGBT community.

Of course Sir Ian isn’t the only inspirational role model. Despite the efforts of those first activists, there is still some way to go before every single LGBT person feels safe and accepted within their homes, communities and in society as a whole. Fortunately, the 21st Century has given birth to a whole new generation of role models.

Anthony Martinez and Jacob Lescenski are two very inspirational young people. They were the two best friends – one gay, one straight – who captured the hearts of the world when straight Jacob asked his gay pal to the school prom via a homemade banner declaring, ‘You’re hella gay, I’m hella str8, but you’re like my brother, so be my d8?’

Their heartwarming story made headlines around the world and as a result the bezzas were invited onto Ellen DeGeneres’ chat show and presented with a Human Rights Campaign award!

So why am I still going on about a story that happened back in 2015? Well, I feel like sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the amazing things that have happened within the LGBT community. Anthony and Jacob’s story inspired many and gave hope to many more.

We’re too often reminded of some of the brutal and horrific things that are going on within schools. But let’s not forget the positive steps being taken by many schools, in order to stamp out homophobic bullying and encourage a safe environment, where gay students can flourish.

Sir Ian McKellen recently returned to his former school to deliver a talk about equality and his activism work. Given that when Sir Ian was at school, being gay was illegal, delivering a talk about gay rights is a testament to the progress that has been achieved so far.

The road to equality is still very much ongoing. But whether like Anthony and Jacob it’s a simple act of kindness that’s inspiring minds, or if like Sir Ian it’s a whole legacy that’s changed a society’s views, you too can play your part. I’m not asking you to climb Tower Bridge and attach a rainbow flag to it, I really wouldn’t advise it.

Fortunately there are many LGBT people living their lives happily, but let’s not forget about those who need our support. And you don’t have to try to be a ‘role model’ – simply by doing something that may seem small to you, might just go on to give somebody else hope.