Words: Tom Stitchbury; pictures: Dean Ryan McDaid
“I feel like I’ve won an Oscar for being gay, for being myself, and what an amazing feeling,” enthuses Radio One presenter Adele Roberts of her Attitude Broadcast Award.
Born and raised in Stockport, Merseyside, Adele, who is of Barbadian and British descent, tasted fame in 2002 when she appeared as a housemate on series three of Big Brother, alongside the likes of Allison Hammond, now a familiar face on This Morning, and the late Jade Goody.
“For a long time, I carried shame regarding Big Brother. As soon as the show finished, I didn’t get an agent, I went straight back to Stockport, to DJing in clubs,” she recalls in the Attitude Awards issue - out now to download and to order globally.
Adele wears blazer by Halpern at MATCHESFASHION, trousers by H&M and earrings by Monica Vinader for the Attitude Awards issue. (Photography by Dean Ryan McDaid; Styling: Sacha Dance; Hair and Makeup: Miranda Baron using GHD and Nars)
“It was hard, because you had these iconic names like Jade doing well in the media… but I think it’s also about being true to yourself, and that wasn’t me. I didn’t feel worthy of being famous.”
Via stints at university and regional radio, Adele joined BBC Radio 1 Xtra in 2012, before climbing her way to her current, high-profile Radio 1 Weekend Breakfast Show slot.
The 42-year-old is aware that her presence as a queer woman on the airwaves is an anomaly. “I think I’m the only openly gay woman at Radio 1, out of 40 presenters, which is not good enough. I know the BBC know that, but hopefully by me being out and visible and speaking up, it means that gay women can be attracted to radio and know that it’s a home."
Reflecting on her own coming out story, Adele - who was also on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2019 - says: “I was 15 and the first person I told was me. I found it hard to accept. I remember thinking, please, no, I can’t be gay. [But] my mum and dad had always taught me to be proud of who I am, in terms of my racial background, being mixed race, and I thought, well, surely if they think I should be proud of that, I should be proud of being gay as well. I didn’t tell them when I was 15, but I started to accept that’s who I was."
She came out to her family via her appearance on Big Brother, and they reacted "brilliantly."
“I’m the only gay person that I know in my family, and I must have subconsciously hidden so many facets of myself to fit in with the people that I love," Adele explains. "And I’m, like, right, you’re older, the world’s a better place to live in, your family love you - let yourself shine.
“I’ve started to share things that I’m interested in, in our [family WhatsApp] group chat. Things that I think they won’t understand I’d maybe speak to Kate about, but now, no, guess what, guys, I’ve won an Attitude Award – if they don’t know what Attitude is, [I’ll] tell them what it is!"
The Attitude Awards issue is out now.