Meet the empowering LGBTQ+ individuals who truly embody the spirit of our city.

Victoria Scone

Prepare to be dazzled, Cardiff! The nation’s beloved drag queen, Victoria Scone, is set to ignite the stage at Pride Cymru 2024 with her signature flair and sass. This news is a thrill for all fans, but it hardly captures the electric excitement radiating from Vicky herself. When we caught up with the sensational star, she was positively beaming: ‘I can’t wait to be back in Victoria’s hometown of Cardiff for Pride Cymru. It’s always so exciting to see the diverse lineup of acts Pride Cymru has booked each year. I can’t wait to get back on the main stage and get the party started!’

Victoria Scone has etched her name on the pages of drag history as the first cisgender female to join the ranks of the Drag Race franchise – not just in the UK, but globally. With now nearly six years of mesmerising performances under her belt, her voluptuous, traditional drag aesthetic sets her apart in the drag universe.

Victoria’s journey to drag royalty began in the world of pantomime, where she often stole the show as the dame. Destiny, it seems, always had drag queen stardom in mind for her, even when she couldn’t imagine it herself. Historically, drag has been a realm where men transform into fabulous women, but trailblazers like Victoria are expanding the stage for female, trans, and non-binary artists. Her groundbreaking stint on Drag Race UK was a watershed moment, earning her immense public admiration and paving the way for a broader spectrum of drag performers.

Her milestone on the show is still making waves today. ‘I’m incredibly honoured to see the impact my appearance on Drag Race has had,’ Vicky shared. ‘I would say that my casting has noticeably created more conversations around all gender identities in drag, as well as [paving the way for] seeing a more varied plethora of drag styles being booked on the scene.’

Inspired by the greats of British drag like Ceri Dupree, Danny La Rue, and Miss Jason, Victoria’s act is a sumptuous feast for all, delighting audiences across the board with her inclusive and captivating performances.

Cardiff holds a special place in Victoria’s heart, not just as the launchpad for her illustrious career but also for the warm hospitality and kindness of its people. As she prepares to return to the Welsh capital for Pride Cymru, the city is ready to welcome her back with open arms, promising a weekend of unforgettable celebrations. Prepare for a spectacular show, as Victoria Scone is set to once again enchant her hometown crowd.

Leighton Rees Wall & The Welsh Ballroom Community

Credit: @mrphotography_93

Professional choreographer and dancer Leighton Rees Wall has transformed life for the queer society in the Welsh valleys by introducing an LGBTQ+ subculture whose roots can be traced back to Harlem, New York, and its vibrant community of black and Latino drag queens.

Originating during lockdown, the ballroom community follows in the steps of its black and Latinx American predecessors, creating a safe space where queer performers from any race and sexuality can express themselves. The community also hosts pageants, or ‘balls’, where they compete across different categories.

When Leighton first set off to discover more about the culture and heritage of ballroom, explore voguing as an art form, and create a safe space for the community, he wasn’t sure whether there would be an appetite for it. The response, unsurprisingly, was overwhelming, and just a year after the society was first formed, they were hosting a fully sold-out ball at the iconic Cardiff landmark, the Wales Millennium Centre.

In addition to developing the community from scratch, Leighton is credited by its members with providing them with a place where they felt like they could safely come out.

Gavin Sheppard

Credit: Gavin Sheppard

Gavin Sheppard, a seasoned performer hailing from Cardiff, is the embodiment of versatility. From humble beginnings in local competitions and amateur productions to becoming a household name in Cardiff, what really sets Gavin apart is his ability to seamlessly transition between genres, captivating audiences with his soulful renditions of classics, mesmerising performances in musical theatre, and electrifying energy in pop and reggae numbers. But beyond his undeniable talent lies a genuine love for the stage. With each performance, Gavin’s infectious passion creates an atmosphere of joy and celebration, leaving audiences spellbound.

In addition to his multifaceted career, Gavin recently embarked on a new chapter of his life –  one filled with love, joy, and unforgettable moments. Gavin’s marriage to his beloved husband Luke captured the hearts of millions when they exchanged vows live on national television, officiated by none other than the iconic Lorraine Kelly on the Lorraine show.

Their union was a testament to love’s enduring power and the triumph of authenticity and acceptance. Surrounded by friends, family, and viewers from the UK and around the world, Gavin and Luke’s wedding was a celebration of unity and equality, marking a significant milestone in their journey together – as well as the 10th anniversary of same-sex marriage in the UK. 

The couple’s journey continues to unfold with the renovation of their forever home, a charming cottage nestled in the heart of Cardiff. Their renovation journey will be documented for all to see on the program Worst House on the Street, offering viewers a glimpse into the transformation of their once-dilapidated property into a stunning sanctuary. From the initial planning stages to the final touches, Gavin and Luke poured their hearts and souls into every aspect of the renovation, turning their vision into reality. Viewers can tune in this summer to witness the makeover of the couple’s cottage on Channel 4 this summer, presented by siblings Scarlet and Stuart Douglas.

Zara Siddique

Credit: @TheZaraSiddique

Zara Siddique is a proud single parent and member of the LGBTQ+ community, who skillfully balances her roles as an entrepreneur, activist, and researcher. Leading three successful ventures, she embodies resilience and creativity in all her accomplishments, promoting the LGBTQ+ community and celebrating queer voices. 

In the world of fashion, Zara’s ethical clothing brand, Rhetorik, stands as a symbol of sustainability and self-expression, with the motto ‘Live True’. Rhetorik empowers individuals to embrace their authenticity and make a positive impact on the surrounding environment. While juggling her businesses and her everyday life, Zara pursues a degree in artificial intelligence at Cardiff University, blending her passion for innovation with her commitment to social progress. Zara Siddique is a beacon of hope, inspiring others with her dedication to inclusive change.

Ayoub Boukhalfa

Credit: @Ayoub Boukhalfa

After arriving in Wales as an asylum seeker from Morocco in 2022, Ayoub Boukhalfa showed the world his courage and determination by becoming a vital figure in the LGBTQ+ community, working to promote inclusivity and understanding. At the heart of Ayoub’s contributions to the community is his role in running Oasis One World Choir, a beacon of unity and diversity in Wales. This small but impactful choir, which had the honour of performing at the King’s Coronation, embodies Ayoub’s vision of bringing people together through the universal language of music. 

Beyond his musical accomplishments, Ayoub uses his platform to promote visibility for queer Muslim men, challenging stereotypes within mixed communities. His dedication extends to volunteering at Oasis Cardiff and the Welsh Refugee Council, where he provides support and solidarity to fellow asylum seekers and refugees. Ayoub continuously works on bringing together gaps and fostering understanding across communities. His unwavering commitment to compassion and inclusivity has earned him recognition as a symbol of positivity within both the refugee and the queer community in Wales.

Norena Shopland

Credit: @NorenaShopland

Norena Shopland is a big name in the world of LGBTQ+ history and research, using her expertise to highlight untold stories and forgotten narratives. She has a series of impressive accomplishments across academia, including talks, lectures, and workshops that explore the rich tapestry of Welsh heritage and LGBTQ+ history. Her recent collaboration with Cerian Wilshere-Davies on a writing workshop delving into historic newspapers from Welsh Newspapers Online shows her commitment to uncovering and highlighting unheard voices. 

Through her innovative approach, Norena offers a different perspective on the evolution of sexual orientation and gender identity within Wales, and continues to shape the discussion surrounding LGBTQ+ history. What’s more, her work serves as a vital resource for those seeking to uncover and celebrate LGBTQ+ heritage.

Owain Wyn Evans


Owain Wyn Evans is a dynamic figure in the realm of media and music, as he acts both as a BBC Radio 2 presenter and a talented drummer. Beyond his professional achievements, Owain is a prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. He recognises the important role of Pride events in promoting community, acceptance, and support, highlighting their importance as spaces of unity and celebration, where individuals from all walks of life can find their identities without fear of judgement. He emphasises that these events serve as reminders of the ongoing struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community worldwide, while also providing opportunities to acknowledge progress and advocate for further inclusivity. 

The unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ advocacy extends beyond Owain’s professional endeavours, as he uses his platform to amplify voices, raise awareness, and promote understanding. He truly embodies the spirit of Pride, inspiring others to stand tall, embrace diversity, and continue striving for a world where everyone is accepted and supported.

Stephen Doughty


Stephen Doughty, an esteemed Member of Parliament representing Cardiff, has long been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights both domestically and internationally. With an eager commitment to equality and inclusion, he uses his platform to address pressing issues facing the LGBTQ+ community on the world stage. 

Recognising the alarming rise in LGBTQ+ hate crime, Stephen sheds light on the harmful impacts of the media and politicians ‘driving a wedge between communities’. He is also actively engaged in driving physical change, particularly in Cardiff. He advocates for measures to combat LGBTQ+ hate crime and enhance safety within the city, inspiring others to join the fight for equality and justice, and working tirelessly to create a world where everyone can live free from discrimination and fear.

Darren Cousins


Darren Cousins is a dedicated professional at the forefront of sexual health and HIV advocacy in Wales. As a consultant at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, he brings expertise and compassion to his role, providing vital support and care to individuals navigating health challenges. 

Darren’s commitment to excellence extends beyond his clinical practice – he serves as one of the Welsh chairmen of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, playing a pivotal role in shaping policies that promote sexual health education, prevention, and treatment. Additionally, as well as working to advance evidence-based practices and standards of care. 

As a member of Wales HIV Action, Darren also lends his voice to initiatives aimed at raising awareness, reducing stigma, and improving access to resources for those affected by HIV. 

Author WCS

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