David Sinclair, Advice Zone Assistant
LGBT+ History Month is an important calendar event because it’s a chance to focus on the important place & contribution we have made throughout history. It’s also an opportunity to put in context the continuing campaign for all equality.
Historical figures such as Marsha P Johnson were pioneers of intersectionality – which is recognising the connection between different areas of inequality such as race, sexual orientation and class. We are still learning those lessons and there is still a long way to go.
Emma Adamson, Director of Learning Services
In celebrating LGBT+ History Month, as a gay woman, I recognise that the freedoms I benefit from, be these legal, cultural, personal or professional; are thanks to those who have come before me and to those LGBT+ people and allies that have made LGBT+ lives better, safer and more equitable.
Working in Higher Education, we recognise and value the power that history plays in helping us to make sense of our world, and our place within it. For me, like many people the power of fiction and storytelling to help us understand the political, could not have been brought to life (and death) better than in Russell T. Davies’ searing account of the AIDS crisis in the Channel 4 drama ‘It’s a Sin.’
For those of us that watched (La!), the storytelling was giddy, exhilarating, tragic and gut wrenching. But this heady mix gave us our history with power, passion, the political and one that was full of pride and friendship. I was at school when the AIDS tombstone adverts were broadcast, and although I well remember the fear and hysteria, and homophobia surrounding AIDS, I was too young to be directly impacted at that time. But the legacy of fear and anxiety for LGBT+ lives, lasted.
It’s through sharing histories, highlighting LGBT+ lives and narratives, that we can all better understand the progress that has been made, and the work still to do.
So this LGBT+ History month, do find out about those LGBT+ lives, experiences lived to celebrate and mark this month with Pride.
Ray Vincent, Member of USW Chaplaincy Team and Chair of SPECTRUM
LGBT+ History Month touches me personally in at least three ways. First, being in my 80s, I see it as a time to celebrate the incredible progress that has been made in my lifetime, and to pay tribute to the courageous people who have helped to bring it about...
– the founders of organisations like the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Stonewall and others, and people like Peter Tatchell who has campaigned for marginalised communities for 50 years at great personal cost.
Secondly, as a Christian minister, I am acutely aware that much of the discrimination LGBT+ people suffer is backed up by religion. This month is an opportunity to reiterate my belief that every true expression of love comes from God.
Thirdly, I have recently made friends with some people in Africa whose lives are literally threatened because of their sexuality or their gender identity. Things are still difficult for many people here in the UK, but In this multinational University community we have the opportunity to encourage, or else to challenge, those who come from parts of the world where things are far worse.
All these themes are aptly summed up in Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died a few weeks ago. He was not only a hero in the fight against apartheid and an architect of the new ‘rainbow nation’, but almost a lone African voice in his passionate defence of the freedom and worth of LGBT+ people. For me, this month will be a celebration of his blessed memory and a challenge, in my own small way, to carry on the good fight.
Will Simpson - Student, Information and Communication Technology
During LGBT+ History Month, I wanted to share my
own experience. So, I have never really spoken about this until now… it was a
Tuesday in November 2018, and that Tuesday changed my life forever! I became
the best version of myself - I told people that I was different - yes, I came
out to my friends and family...
...and told them that I was different, because being different is brilliant.
I was at college when my life changed forever – it changed in seconds. I sent a simple text message to my friends and family telling them I am different, and I like guys – so what? Yes, I am gay and coming out was the best thing that I have ever done. I kind of always knew I was different. I used to get teased at school because of my Lisp, and my voice. Being your true self is the most important thing you can ever do.
For a very long time, I was scared, worried, anxious, and felt very alone. I was in a very dark place for a very long time - I knew the time was right to stop living my life as a lie. I was scared to tell people but when I told people it was like a breath of regeneration energy, it felt like I was regenerating to become a better person. Also, being Neurodiverse, I was worried about that as well. Being LGBTQ+ is the best thing I have ever done and coming out was like becoming a new Doctor.
Fast forward a couple of years and I am now living in south Wales and studying at USW which is truly the best decision I have ever made – embracing my true self and embracing my degree. I have always used the words of the 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker: “We’re all capable of the most incredible change. We can evolve while still staying true to who we are. We can honour who we’ve been and choose who we want to be next.”
Martha Rogers, Marketing Executive
As a queer millennial, there are many defining moments in LGBTQ+ history that I don’t have a lived experience of. I don’t remember the beginning of the gay rights movement, which is often credited to the Stonewall Uprising. I didn’t experience the trauma of losing friends through the AIDS crisis. I wasn’t here to attend the first official UK Pride parade in the early 70s.
As a community, we have a colourful and painful past. LGBTQ+ History Month is important to me because while there are many moments in our history that I haven’t lived through, they have defined where we are today. In my lifetime, we’ve gone from homosexuality being banned from being taught in schools and diagnosed as a mental illness, to being given equal marriage and adoption rights and being celebrated at Pride parades across the world.
LGBTQ+ pioneers have allowed me to live a much more privileged life than they were able to, and the fight still isn’t over. As we campaign to ban conversion therapy in the UK, to put an end to hate crime which has soared over the past year, and fight for the rights of the most marginalised people in our community, we should acknowledge that the foundations were laid by those before us.
There have been so many important events in the timeline of LGBTQ+ history that were turning points for greater equality and freedom. I celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month because I truly believe that learning from these past events will help us to create a more inclusive and accepting world for the future generations of our community.
Jamie Evans, Wellbeing Support Officer (students)
LGBT+ History Month is a reminder. It’s a celebration of all our achievements, despite adversity. It’s a chance to remember that throughout the world we all don’t share the same freedoms. It’s an opportunity to appreciate those who came before us and paved the road to acceptance with words and actions.
And finally, humbly, it’s a moment to show respect to the countless souls we lost along the way.
By celebrating LGBT+ History Month, and by living as our authentic selves, we also light the way for those that will come after us. People may think that the work is done, that we enjoy the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. But we know this is fiction when people are arrested, abused, or worse, worldwide for the simple crime of being who they are.
We proudly make it known who we are every February as a reminder of this, and to show that we aren’t going anywhere. And even when the work is done, whenever that may be, there will always be someone who needs to know that who they are is okay. There will always be someone in desperate need of a light to guide them down their path.
Emma Kwaya-James - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
LGBTQ+ month is important for me personally as a time of celebration and of remembrance. Celebration of the wonderful intersectional diversity of our LGBTQ+ community and remembrance of those that have lost their lives and of the ongoing global, national ...
... and local struggle, persecution and oppression faced by members of our LGBTQ+ community and of our own loss as a family.
I remember the untimely and unanswered death of Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang frequently known as Joel Nana. Joel died in 2015 whilst visiting the place he referred to as home, Cameroon in West Africa. Joel was a proud openly gay man who was not only a leading African LGBTQ+ human rights advocate and HIV/AIDS activist but most importantly to us he was a brother, uncle, partner, confidante, and father.
As a university, LGBTQ+ activity has been at the heart of our equality, diversity and inclusion agenda, with USW being ranked 24th on the Stonewall Index in 2020, and top Trans Employer in the same year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, USW did not submit to the index in 2021. The University is currently undertaking work to further develop its Trans Guidance for colleagues and Name Change Policy for students and, alongside this, hopes to invest in ongoing Trans awareness raising sessions for both colleagues and students. As part of our commitment to the development of a pan University Wellbeing Plan, we will be developing and piloting a confidential discrimination reporting system as part of our zero-tolerance to bullying, harassment and discrimination.
Stewart Eyres, Deputy Dean - Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science
LGBT+ History Month
serves to highlight the often invisible, sometimes outright denied, role people
in the LGBT+ communities have had in history. Both their impact on the status
and rights of LGBT+ people, and their wider achievements in their chosen
careers or disciplines are important.
Darren Hodge, Faculty Support Assistant
As I consider
myself primarily an ally and have still not fully understood my own identity, I
was quite cautious about contributing to this campaign, as I wanted to ensure
that the appropriate voices have the space to be amplified. But yet, if my
story of uncertainty and allyship can be of any assistance to anyone, I’m happy
to share it.
From a young age, certain ideas were fuelled into my upbringing and family members were even forced to hide their true sexuality in the name of heteronormative parenting. LGBT+ identities and history were concealed and demonised. However, once I escaped this environment at university, the works of such writers as James Baldwin & Tennessee Williams were opened up to me and I discovered a sense of kinship and community. These writers presented different models of masculinity and showed me that I was not alone in my uncertainty and questioning of gender norms. This showcasing of the diversity of life is what makes LGBT+ History Month so important; individuals need to have access to as many different ideas and lives as possible in order to find their community and realise that there are other individuals who share their feelings.
This month can be seen as a reclamation of that history which is often suppressed, concealed or hidden away, and making this past readily available helps ensures that there is a future where everyone can have a place that they belong. Therefore, even though I may not have all of the answers yet, I know there are resources & communities available to help me find my way.
Vaughan Rees, Director of Chaplaincy Services
I confess to sometimes feeling a little sad and frustrated when the Chaplaincy is viewed with a kind of respectful suspicion when it comes to LGBT issues. Given some of the things that are said by some Christians there is an inevitability about this, and so I suppose I just need to take it on the chin...
...and commit myself to giving the lie to negative assumptions by the way I am as a person and the kind of service we offer as a Chaplaincy.
Being open to and affirming of others is not something I have learnt as part of a theological doctrine or as a contemporary political theory. It has been a touchstone of my faithfulness to the God who was made known to me from childhood at Dinas Noddfa, my home Baptist Chapel in Swansea. Being open and affirming is what I am because of my faith and not in spite of it. Desmond Tutu said, ‘I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven’. I want to say, if it is homophobic, It can’t be heaven.
I have a vision that one day we will live in a world where different expressions of loving human sexuality will be celebrated, and a confident hope that the Church as whole will catch up and join in.
Ryan Mather, Student - Community Football Coaching and Development
LGBT+ history month means a lot to me
because, being openly gay myself, it is a community I am from and to
look back on history and celebrate the amazing things people have done to help
push for change is really inspiring.
We have come so far looking back on history but so much more needs to be done. It also raises so much visibility and awareness about what its like to be LGBT and the key issues we face.
To continue to keep pushing for change we have to educate others and raise awareness about this topic. I'm a very proud gay man who will continue to campaign and push for change in today's society.
Caitlin Phillips, Alumna - Psychology with Counselling
LGBT+ History Month is important to me because it highlights the brave fights and sacrifices queer people have made over the years to attain the social acceptance we have today.
Adam Williams – Alumnus, Psychology with Criminology
LGBTQ+ History Month is important to me for numerous reasons. It provides an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to see themselves reflected in history.
Providing stories to identify with which reflect their experiences, validating our existence. Ever year is an opportunity for us to discover something new, hear stories never heard and show the world we have always been here. As a community, it reminds us of how far we have come in gaining acknowledgement, acceptability, and legal rights. Sadly, it is also a time for everyone to remember those without rights. Even in countries considered safe, LGBTQ+ people still live in fear. We are everywhere yet have no place where we exist without persecution. But LGBTQ+ History Month gives us hope to change the world for the better. The contributions of LGBTQ+ people are important to highlight to show our contribution to the world. We have always been here even when persecuted. Society is built equally on our achievements, and it is essential this is highlighted. Our accomplishments in the past, the achievements we make now and all we do in the future.
Tom Dix – Alumnus, Media Production
I think LGBTQ+ History Month is something that should be celebrated and spoken about far and wide throughout the month of February and beyond, ...
because it’s important to learn about our own history and understand what people have been through because without celebrating them and recognising achievements then we would never be able to progress further.