Pete Burns: The LGBTQ+ Icon That Was Ahead Of His Time

Updated: Jan 5

Liverpudlian LGBTQ+ Icon, Pete Burns, And His Impact Upon The World Through His Powerful Presence

Liverpudlian LGBTQ+ icon Pete Burns as he appeared in his hit song 'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)' (Credit: The Liverpudlian/Peter Eric Lang).

Pete Burns, the enigmatic leader of the Liverpudlian band Dead or Alive was quite possibly decades ahead of his time. The LGBTQ+ icon is known for his bold style, powerful voice and iconic sense of self.


He gained fame through hits like 'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)' and his unignorable presence on stage, during interviews and in everyday life. The nation were able to get to know Pete better through his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother amongst a number of other appearances on various other television shows and through his autobiography.


Burns' sexuality and gender has always been somewhat ambiguous. Burns identified as gay, however due to a combination of his surgery efforts and flamboyant dress style, this led many people to believe he may be transgender. Burns declined to comment on such suggestions and in his autobiography, Freak Unique, he was quoted saying "[People] always want to know – am I gay, bi, trans or what? I say, forget all that. There's got to be a completely different terminology and I'm not aware if it's been invented yet. I'm just Pete."


Burns very openly admitted he augmented his facial features with plastic surgery. This is almost unsurprising in many ways due to the fact that Liverpool is the plastic surgery capital of the UK. His surgeries did however, sadly lead to a number of quite severe health problems and side effects; ultimately leading to his death at the age of only 57.


"[People] always want to know – am I gay, bi, trans or what? I say, forget all that. There's got to be a completely different terminology and I'm not aware if it's been invented yet. I'm just Pete." - Pete Burns.

Pete Burns is not the only Liverpudlian to help shape and liberate the LGBTQ+ community. He may, however, be the most overlooked not just in the city, but internationally.


The city region is seen by many as the gay capital of the UK with even it's own Gay Quarter in the city centre. Other successful gay Liverpudlians include comedian, presenter and former Drag Queen Paul O'Grady, the "King of Bling" Herbert Howe who was known for his city centre hairdressers and the beloved longtime city resident Pete Price, after choosing Liverpool as his home for more than four decades now.


Burns inspired so many people in the LGBTQ+ community and his strength to defy expectations, stay true and not even label himself. Pete himself was even unsure as to what he could label himself as or even if there was a term for how he felt. Pete was a true pioneer and his impact cannot be overstated.


Pete Burns was born on the 5th of August 1959, in Port Sunlight, a quaint model village in the Wirral Borough of the Liverpool City Region. Pete passed away after a sudden cardiac arrest on 23 October 2016 in London. He will be sadly missed and who knows what he could have continued to contribute to the community and the world if he was still with us today.

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