It's great that society has opened its mind so much that when it comes to picking the recipient of our Ally Award, there's long list of names to consider. Cynically, one could say that it's because it's now unfashionable in the celebrity world to be anti-gay. It's certainly easy for high-profile people to be vocal on LGBT+ rights and to issue a few token tweets. But few non-LGBT celebs have truly put themselves on the frontline in the fight for LGBT+ awareness.
Beverley Knight, however, has been a support of queer rights since long before it became the in thing. She hasn't just shown up for us; she's fought for us too. From firing her entire band because they refused to play pride, to nursing her best friend at home before he died from an AIDS-related illness, to campaigning for the Terrence Higgin's Trust in the 1990s, the UK's queen of soul has been defending our rights (and giving us life) as long as anyone can remember. We couldn't ask for a better ally, or recipient of this year's Attitude Ally Award
It's one thing to speak your mind, but calling out other artists - especially huge cultural icons such as dancehalls stars Buju Banton and Beenie Man - is an entirely different matter. But in 2004, when it was still pretty radical to speak out in support of gay rights, Beverley did just that, accusing both of "appealing to the lowest common denominator of hatred for gays" by using homophobic lyrics. It affected her career, but Beverly is not one to stick her head in the sand.
"There's nothing worse than someone who knows people are talking shit about LGBTQ folk but, for the sake of a quiet life, sit there and say nothing. I was like: fuck that right off. I just thought 'you are all wrong and sod you'," she says.
Beverley Knight was presented with her award by Sally Lindsay and Sam Womack at tonight's star-studded Attitude Awards ceremony at London's 8 Northumberland Avenue, hosted by Alan Cumming.
Read more about Amanda Barrie and the rest of winners from the Attitude Awards 2016, presented in association with Virgin Holidays, in our special November issue, which comes with six different covers featuring some of the night's biggest winners.
It's available to download from 11pm tonight (October 10) at pocketmags.com/attitude and available in shops from Wednesday (October 12). You can order the cover of your choice from 10am on Tuesday (October 11) at newsstand.co.uk.