Prince William appears on cover of gay magazine, makes history

Prince William posed for the cover of the British gay magazine, Attitude, to speak out against bullying of LGBT youth.

Leigh Kelly/Attitude Magazine/Handout
Britain's Prince William smiles on the front cover of Attitude magazine's July issue.

The July 2016 cover of Attitude, which describes itself as "the UK's best-selling gay magazine," features a new face for LGBT solidarity: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

While the younger members of the royal family – William, Duchess Kate, and Prince Harry – have spoken about mental health and anti-bullying in recent months, this is the first time a British royal has appeared on the cover of an LGBT magazine.

The magazine features a discussion that occurred on May 12 between William and LGBT youth who have dealt with suicide attempts, eating disorders, drug addiction, and other mental disorders as a result of bullying.

In a behind-the-scenes video, one attendee says meeting the prince was "the perfect end to a year where I've made a lot of positive changes in my life." Another hoped the publicized meeting would help ensure that future generations of LGBT people won't experience intense bullying.

Members of Britain's lesbian, gay, and bisexual community are twice as likely as heterosexual people to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts and are seven times more likely to take drugs, according to the LGBT Foundation, a Manchester-based advocacy and welfare nonprofit.

The Duke of Cambridge's appearance on the cover reflects a growing acceptance of LGBT people in Britain. It was only in 1967 that the Sexual Offences Act decriminalized homosexual acts. Same-sex marriage was legalized in July 2013.

Most heads of state around the world have been slow to embrace human rights for the LGBT community, but more countries and their leaders are showing increasing tolerance and acceptance.

For instance, President Obama also made a groundbreaking appearance on the cover of Out, a gay and lesbian style magazine, in November of last year. According to The Christian Science Monitor, the portrait symbolized Obama's self-described evolving attitudes on equality during his presidency.

Raising awareness of bullying in Britain not only aims to benefit young people it also points toward the type of leader William could be as king. After the meeting, William made a statement, part of which said:

The young gay, lesbian and transgender individuals I met through Attitude are truly brave to speak out and to give hope to people who are going through terrible bullying right now. Their sense of strength and optimism should give us all encouragement to stand up to bullying wherever we see it.

The younger generation of the royal family has been making an effort to be more accessible to the public, committing to causes that resonate with young people. In April 2016, they released a video that features their "Heads Together" campaign, which joins the family's batch of initiatives to eradicate stigmas attached to discussing mental health. In February, Kate launched a blog called "Young Minds Matter," for which Michelle Obama wrote an entry titled "Let's Change the Conversation Around Mental Health."

William's attitudes reflect the progressive perspectives of young Britons. When asked to plot themselves on a Kinsey scale, 46 percent of British people ages 18 to 24 chose something other than 100 percent heterosexual. In comparison, as a whole, 72 percent of the general population rated themselves as completely heterosexual.

Despite this shift, bigotry remains a threat: One in six LGBT people in Britain have been the victim of a homophobic hate crime or incident over the past three years, found a 2013 study by the British LGBT rights charity Stonewall, a modest decline from 2008, when that number was 1 in 5.

This issue of Attitude went to press on Wednesday, June 8, four days before an attacker in Orlando, Fla., open fired at Pulse, a gay night club, killing 49 people.

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