Amid the architectural and artistic splendours of South Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Anticant’s public persona, Antony Grey, was last night acclaimed ‘Hero of the Year’ in Stonewall’s prestigious 2007 Awards ceremony held to celebrate the social progress and achievements of gay people.
Sponsored by Barclays Bank, the event was attended by several hundred guests who enjoyed a champagne reception followed by the awards ceremony hosted by TV presenter Anthony Crank in the
The awards and winners [chosen by the votes of several thousand Stonewall supporters] were:
Publication of the Year – The Guardian.
Politician of the Year – Alan Johnson MP and Angela Eagle MP.
Writer of the Year – Val McDiarmid, for her novel Beneath the Bleeding.
Entertainer of the Year - Dan Gillespie-Sells, lead singer of The Feeling [most played band of 2006 on
Sportsperson of the Year – Nigel Owens, international rugby referee.
Bigot of the Year – the Bishop of Hereford [who was not present to receive his award!].
Journalist of the Year – Philip Hensher.
Community Group of the Year – Gay Switchboard, who were presented with a £5,000 cheque by Barclays Bank.
Broadcaster of the Year – Channel 4’s Hollyoaks.
Hero of the Year –
In his acceptance speech, Antony Grey – who, to his surprise, received two standing ovations – said that the significant thing about the award was not winning it, but being honoured by the nomination, and he thanked all concerned on behalf of himself and his co-nominees.
One of these, Lisa Power, the policy director of the AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust, had said that “history is for interfering in”, and he preferred to think of himself as a modest interferer in history rather than as a hero.
Fifty years ago, gay people were not merely criminalized; they were looked down upon as sick, degenerate perverts.
He recalled that during one of the law reform debates of the 1960s, Viscount Montgomery, the Victor of Alamein, had tabled an amendment proposing that the age of consent should be 80, on the ground that by that age, it didn’t really matter what you did. “Well”,
“The road to homosexual emancipation which I and a few others embarked upon following the Wolfenden Report has been a long and arduous one.
“But now here we are, and we can be thankful for what has been achieved.
“At least, we are able to celebrate our identities in this magnificent building, instead of being thrown off the top of it for being who we are – as some of our enemies would like to happen.
“But the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and ours is a never-ending struggle not just for our own rights, but for human rights.
“Stonewall is at the cutting edge of this ongoing fight, and I urge you all to give it your unstinted support.”
As this was the first occasion that Anticant has been out in the evening for more than two years, it has been quite an eventful week, with this rather special event following hard on the heels of a colonoscopy!