Last year, when The Independent on Sunday was putting together its annual Pink List, the by then regular phone call was made to a FTSE 100 office in the City. "We are compiling a list of the most influential gay people in Britain," said the researcher. "Is the chief executive willing to appear?" On the other end of the line, there was a sharp intake of breath, and a pause. "'I don't what you are suggesting, but it is not in the least appropriate that his name is associated with that article," said the PA. You've guessed it: the office was that of BP, and the chief executive was Lord Browne.
We may never know why John Browne lied about his sexuality. But this year's Pink List, brought forward because of his untimely departure from BP, shows that fewer people find it necessary to conceal theirs. The list has 28 new entries, some who appear for the first time because they have risen in prominence, others because they have recently "come out". All those included are celebrated; some work tirelessly, without often being publicly congratulated.
The negotiations about whom to leave off were many and animated. Gay men and lesbians still have discrimination to fight in the boardroom, the courtroom and the classroom. But this is as a good a time as any time to mark the progress made, and we thank all who appear here.
Judge and jury
Each person's ranking is above their name with last year's position in brackets.
Contributors: Hugo Eyre-Varnier, David Benedict, Marcus Field, Damian Barr, Suzi Feay, Andrew Murray-Watson, Beth Dadswell, Mike Higgins, John Walsh, Francis Elliott, Marie Woolf, Katy Guest.
RUSSELL T DAVIES
They said Doctor Who could never be revived but Davies made it witty, sexy, slick and scary - and made Saturday evening telly compulsory again. He made his name with the ground-breaking Channel 4 drama Queer As Folk, but proof that the 44-year-old has taken over the mainstream came when he was named Industry Player of the Year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Populist and clever, this genius was the overwhelming choice of our panel.
TELEVISION HOST, ACTOR, AUTHOR
In 2006 he was the public's ninth greatest star and the BBC's sixth greatest living icon. His BBC2 quiz show QI has a following that would be called "cult" if it weren't so huge. Also stars in new ITV1 drama Kingdom. He has won plaudits for his work on mental health issues and is the most intelligent man in the world, according to readers of the Radio Times.
SIR ELTON JOHN
Sir Elton has sold more than 250 million records and has 25 platinum albums. Celebrated his 60th birthday before a star-studded audience at Madison Square Garden. His Elton John Aids Foundation, which he runs with his partner David Furnish, has become one of the word's most celebrated charities. Will play that song again at the Diana memorial concert at Wembley in July.
FOUNDER AND OWNER OF GAYDAR.CO.UK
Badenhorst, 40, formed Gay-dar, with partner Gary Frish, in 1999. It has become the world's biggest online dating site, with more than four million subscribers. The pair had split as lovers before Frish fell to his death from his south London flat in February this year. A new social networking site, Gay-dar Nation, is due to go live soon. The Gaydar radio station won best digital radio station at the Sony awards.
SIR IAN MCKELLEN
Serena - as he is affectionately nicknamed - is currently appearing nude in his portrayal of King Lear at the Courtyard Theatre. He revels in an eclectic mix of roles, from blockbusters, to the stage to Coronation Street. He is a renowned campaigner for gay rights, though his attempts to persuade young gay actors to come out has had limited success. …