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LGBT+ History Month is a time to reflect, to celebrate and to look to the future. Kingston University's students, staff and alumni are marking the month through a series of online events, shared creative expression and open conversations around equality and LGBT+ issues. It's also the first anniversary of our LGBTQ+ staff network, which supports LGBTQ+ staff and allies and celebrates diversity in our community.
Queer representation and visibility is crucial to our liberation. LGBT+ History Month was created to equip everyone with knowledge about LGBT+ history and liberation and directly challenges the idea that being queer is something inappropriate, particularly in schools.
I've been honoured to pioneer and mobilise campaigns for, and with, our community and LGBT+ History Month is no exception. This is time for us to remember, celebrate and open the door for discussion and learning. We could not celebrate who we are if it weren't for those before us.
Shane Simpkin (they/them), LGBT+ officer, Union of Kingston Students
LGBT+ History Month is about celebrating our journeys, our stories, and our lives. The month is an opportunity to share this with everyone, not just those who identify as LGBTQ+, recognising that the past has seen many traumas as well as triumphs, and that our present experiences reflect the same.
History is the choices we make every single day, as individuals, as communities, and as societies, and I hope that next LGBT+ History Month we will have achievements as a University which we can celebrate and look back on with pride.
Yvalia Febrer (she/her), chair, LGBTQ+ staff network
Members of Kingston University's LGBTQ+ staff network come together for LGBT+ History Month to talk about identities in the LGBTQ+ community, the history and culture of being part of it, and how the media has portrayed people within the community over time.
"I'm determined to help make Kingston University a place where people can feel safe to talk openly, should they wish to, about how they identify, who they love and their lives outside work. The diversity of human life and love is something to be celebrated and I hope I can help make Kingston an inclusive and vibrant place to work."
Emily Boynton, Executive HR Director
LGBT+ History Month is an important time to learn, celebrate and reflect on our history and the people who fought for our rights. But LGBTQ+ struggles are not fixed in the past - there's oppression of LGBTQ+ rights happening now in the UK and internationally. We need to come together to fight back while also amplifying the voices of Black, trans and disabled members within our community.
I hope there will be more conversations surrounding sexual violence and what can be done to allow LGBTQ+ survivors to share their experiences and access support that understands it from an LGBTQ+ perspective.
Beth, drama student
LGBT+ History Month to me means taking time to learn more about the history and people that led to the progress and further acceptance of the community we see today. It's also about acknowledging how far we are from equality and taking steps to fix that, especially when it comes to transgender equality and inclusion.
When I went to Kingston there wasn't visible celebration for history month, so I'm happy the University is making commitments to celebrate diversity in its staff and student community.
Jess Tansley, creative writing, media and cultural studies graduate
LGBT+ History Month is important to me personally as it's a chance to celebrate my sexuality, demisexual, and to feel less alone as the community helps you feel supported, welcomed and loved. It's a good opportunity to learn about the history of the LGBTQ+ community and how it came to be what it is today.
Laura Broadberry, MA Publishing student
Union of Kingston Students events are open to all students and staff.
Sophie Smith designed this striking LGBT+ logo for the Union of Kingston Students. The Creative and Cultural Industries: Art Direction BA (Hons) student wanted to create a logo that was bright, bold, and eye-catching.
Sophie chose the lightning bolt to show the strength of the LGBT+ community and represent its energy. She wanted to convey the LGBT+ colours representing an amazing community inside a symbol of strength.
"Every person has a right to their own sexual identity and to express themselves accordingly. However, society makes little consideration beyond heterosexuality and being cisgender when it comes to people with learning disabilities.
"This perspective is often based upon ignorance and fear about people with learning disabilities demonstrating any form of sexual expression."
Dr Mark Brown, senior lecturer in learning disability nursing at Kingston University and St George's, University of London, explains why people with learning disabilities face barriers to expressing their sexual identity and what should be done about it.