Gay Icons, exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London, between 2nd July to 18th October 2009. The important photography exhibition celebrated the contribution of gay people – and the significance of the gay icon – to history and culture. Ten selectors worked with the Gallery to make their own personal choices of six individuals – their ‘icons’. The ‘Gay Icons’ shown in the exhibition included those people, living or dead, whatever their sexual orientation or interests, who the ten individual selectors regarded as inspirational, or as a personal icon. The gallery decided to limit the art shown to be photographic portraits and that the icons had lived in the past 150 years.
Mary McCartney photographed the selectors to mark their contribution to the exhibition. McCartney’s portraits of Lord Waheed Alli, Alan Hollinghurst, Jackie Kay, Billie Jean King, Sir Ian McKellen, Lord Chris Smith, Ben Summerskill, Sandi Toksvig and Sarah Waters featured in Gay Icons alongside portraits of those icons chosen by the selectors such as Francis Bacon and David Hockney, Dame Daphne Du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, Nelson Mandela and Diana, Princess of Wales.