Proud champions of the LGBTQ+ world in Plymouth

Plymouth is a diverse, vibrant and exciting place to live.

There is beauty every where you look. From the delicious ice-cream being served at the Barbican to the hidden architectural treasures hiding in plain sight.

But what truly makes Plymouth beautiful is the people.

The city is home to some of the most inspiring, creative and driven people a number of which will identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

This pride month, we wanted to chat to some of the people who make this city great and help wave the rainbow flag.

From wig makers to politicians, here are some of Plymouth’s proud LGBTQ+ members.

Sam Kerswell

Sam has made wigs for celebrities across the globe and has worked with a number of famous drag queens

This 31-year old-celebrity stylist is taking on the world one wig at a time and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community through his work.

“I have worked across Europe and New York at events and doing hair.

“I custom colour wigs for celebrities including Cheryl Hole and Blu Hydrangea from Ru Pauls Drag Race UK.

“In October I’m a feature guest celebrity stylist for a Halloween special on an Australian TV network with some of the cast from Ru Pauls Drag Race UK and US talking about wigs and giving advice/ tips& tricks.

“I am currently working on a new design for Katie Price for an event towards the end of 2020. She first contacted me couple weeks ago on Instagram and sent me her phone number in the first message to call her to get details finalised asap.

“I am the UK’s sponsored artist for Balmain and Innoluxe and I am the UK’s and USA’s sponsored artist for Manic Panic. I am a finalist for British Colour Technician Of The Year 2020.”

Sam is proud of his Plymouth roots and feels that the community within the city is special.

Cheryl Hole photographed wearing one of Sam’s wigs

“For me personally the LGBTQ+ scene here in Plymouth is quite close knit. Obviously, Plymouth’s isn’t as big the London scene but I think that has its benefits at keeping the community closer.”

“With all international work and classes cancelled for 2020 on the 6th July I am opening a studio situated within Prep Cosmetic, called MODE Hair Lab. Mayflower Street.

“It is a personal 1-1 luxury Balmain Hair Couture Studio.

“All my media/ Instagram filming will be done from here along with all hair services and 1-1 Advanced Hair Colouring classes.”

He has worked with some huge names and has even made friends with some of his celebrity clients.

“To be honest, everyone has be so lovely to work with/ talk to.

“I have made some great friends with them.

“The one thing that will always make me smile massively is Cheryl’s voice note she sent me the second she received her wig for her Lady Gaga Digital TV Show.

“It was the loveliest thing I’ve ever been sent. Too say she was happy was an understatement.”

Sam loves drag and the work he does for queens across the world but says he would never be confident enough to try it.

“I love drag, although I am way too shy to ever do it myself.

“The whole process from start to finish, the hours they spend perfecting their makeup to putting on the outfit and then their hair. The transformations you see are literally unreal.”

“I had always been intrigued into the stylist side of the industry.

“My friends who are famous artists in America are the ones who pushed me to get into it and my first custom wig client was Blu Hydrangea.

“I did her a neon rainbow kaleidoscope wig utilising a really epic colour technique.”

Keep a close eye out next time you see a celeb wearing a beautifully coloured wig, it may just be one of Sam’s.

Luke Pollard

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport, on the Hoe
(Image: Office of Luke Pollard)

Luke Pollard describes himself as a proud Janner who supports Plymouth Argyle and Plymouth Raiders.

As the cities first openly gay MP, Luke is also proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ scene.

“Lockdown has effected all of us and that includes people within the community.

“We would normally be looking forward to pride events right across the country including our big Plymouth pride event which would be happening in the summer.

“But we are not going to be able to celebrate as we would normally do this year.

“That mean’s that we haven’t had the opportunity to come together and share experiences and show that we are not on are own.

“One of the hallmarks of coming out, as gay, bi-sexual or transgender, is that you are able to share that with other people.

“Pride and all the events around it are so important at underlining the fact that everyone deserves to be loved.

“No matter who they are, no matter what their background, they deserve to be loved, they deserved to be valued they deserve to be respected and they don’t deserve to be discriminated against because of there sexuality or their gender.”

MP Luke Pollard secured a debate regarding Vanessa George’s early release (Image: Parliament TV)

Luke says that their is still a long way when fighting for equality.

“The reality for people in Plymouth who are LGBTQ+ is that there is a fear, a sort of risk, of abuse.

“There is still that caution that you have.

“I know this from walking down the street with my boyfriend and I ask myself ‘is it appropriate to hold hands. Can I do the same things as if I was in a heterosexual relationship?’

“These are questions that go through everybody’s mind within the LGBTQ+ community and that is why we do need to continue to raise those issues.”

Luke appreciates the position he is in. As MP he says he has been able to talk about things that people wouldn’t normally talk about.

Luke is proud of who he is and he is proud of Plymouth which he describes as “brilliant” “welcoming” and “diverse”.

“There are still sadly a small group of people in our city who feel that people being themselves is a threat.

“Well its not.

“Diversity makes us stronger as a city and when we start really getting into that we realise that if we were all the same it would be pretty boring.

“Then we can start to recognise the contribution that we can all make.”

Luke has also spoken openly about sexual health and the importance of knowing your HIV status.

He say’s it is vital that people are aware of the range of STI’s that can be transmitted in order to stay safe.

Erica and Brogan

Erica and Brogan are raising money for Eric to receive VFS

Speaking with this lovely couple I am hit with the overwhelming presence of true love and support.

Erica was 21 when she came out as transgender to her girlfriend Brogan.

The couple have since supported each through their own personal journey’s of self discovery.

Erica is comfortable with who she is now but has not always been so happy.

“I’m a trans-woman, I’ve known since I was very young.

“I have tried to express my feelings about my gender many times throughout my life but sadly a lot of these attempts were met with hate and resulted in me repressing my feelings (to avoid further hate).

“Since meeting Brogan, my life has been so much more free.

“She encourages me everyday to be myself and always wants me to pursue whatever it is I want to do.

“I can tell she really cares about me and I really care about her too.

“Without Brogan I wouldn’t have been able to tell my friends and family that I am a trans-woman and that this is how I want to live my life.”

Brogan has supported Erica who has struggled with depression and dysphoria for a very long time.

“Erica and I met a little over 3 years ago and we became very close very quickly, she originally lived in Penryn and I was in Plymouth.

“We’ve been to many festivals, even travelled to Scotland to see Paramore, now are raising 2 cute cats together.

“It’s a really happy relationship.”

“The last 12 months have been a journey I never thought I would be taking but I am more than glad I have.

“Erica came out to me as transgender in August of 2019 a few hours before I was due to go to work.

“I was immediately in full support of her and her journey.

“In these sort of situations you have to think about the other person and how they’re feeling as it is such an important part of someone’s life to come out.

“Erica has been taking important steps to live her life in her correct gender identity and I’ve made sure to support her in every step of the way when I can.

“It’s been an incredible journey and I am so excited to see what the future holds for us.”

Erica is a passionate creative and spends her free time writing music.

“I really enjoy writing music and have enjoyed my time at Falmouth University studying Acting.

“Acting, music and video games are my three passions in life.

“I really want to write music for video games and also would love to eventually start voice acting for video games too.”

The couple have been raising money for Erica to receive Vocal Feminisation Surgery and have set up a Go Fund Me something that Brogan knows will make a huge difference to her girlfriends life.

“The GoFundMe is for Vocal Feminisation Surgery (VFS), this is just one of the many surgeries Erica wishes to have but the most important to her.

“She wishes to become a voice actor and since the Gender Indentity Clinics in the UK are overrun the best route to take is private.

“The costs can be expensive, VFS is around £5000-£6000.

“This is why we need all the support we can in helping raise funds for her transition.”

Donations can be made buy clicking clicking here.

Plymouth Live