2021 saw the first PRIDE event on campus. It was a sell-out event and the accumulation of many years of work and discussions. And it was definitely worth it!
Kalidescope, our staff LGBT+ network, worked tirelessly to organise and host this special event.
The event was open to all, the LGBT+ community, allies, and friends with the aim of celebrating and promoting the diversity of our University community.
The event started at 16:00hrs on Friday 25 June with speeches from the Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian White, myself, and our network co-chairs Thomas Williams and Sophie Miles. This was followed by a variety of drop-in workshops, including art for wellbeing, t-shirt decorating, and pride banner-making. There were a series of stalls to browse and learn more about, including representatives from Wellbeing, ED&I, and research.
Later in the afternoon, a number of performances including live music and drag performers delighted the audience.
A huge thanks to Kalidescope, and in particular Sophie Miles, Alison Crichton, and Thomas Williams for their tireless work in organising this event.
Below you can view the student vlog on Campus Pride by Micheala.
A copy of the speech I gave at the event can be found below.
Thank you for those inspirational words, and for all the fabulous work you, Sophie and Kaleidoscope do to support our LGBT+ community here at the university.
Good afternoon everyone, I am George, her/she pronouns. And it’s fabulous to be here to celebrate Pride openly on campus for the very first time at the University of Bath. And to have our President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian White with us.
I’d like to share with you why Pride is important to me. The 28th June 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. For those of you unfamiliar with the Stonewall riots, it started just after midnight on a very hot Friday night in 1969. Police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village that served as a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community. At that time, homosexual acts were illegal in every state except one. Serving or employing a gay employee would see bars and restaurants shut down.
Police raids were common on gay bars, but on this night the LGBT+ community decided to fight back – sparking an uprising that would launch a new era of resistance and revolution. “Masquerading” as a member of the opposite sex was a crime – drag queens and cross-dressing patrons were singled out for arrest. A woman dressed in masculine attire believed to be the lesbian activist Storme Delarverie was allegedly assaulted by police.
Two transgender women of colour, Sylvia Riveria and Marsha P Johnson, resisted arrest and led thousands of people in raising their voices together in protest.
What followed in the subsequent days would change LGBT+ activism forever. It was a turning point. It sparked the dawning of a new era, a new cultural awareness for a community marginalised by society. As a pansexual woman, previously riddled with guilt and shame, this is why Pride is so important to me and whilst we have come so far in the last 50 years and we should absolutely celebrate that, Pride for me is also a time to remember and reflect. To think about the people that paved the way for our community and those who continue to face persecution and violence every day.
Sometimes people ask why Pride is necessary in this day and age. We all need the support, confidence and safety to be able to embrace and champion who we are. We need to be able to flourish as our true versions of ourselves. We need to help create a trusted and progressive culture for all individuals and communities to feel included. We need to celebrate who we are without masking, hiding, or hetero-passing. We still have a way to go, but we must continue to open the eyes of those that do not see the barriers, the blocks, the insidious discrimination...
- For the trans person whose gender re-assignment decision lies in the hands of someone who they’ve never met.
- For the single gay dad whose child deserves to know that his family is not a second class family.
- And for the bi woman who continuously gets asked the question “but what do you actually prefer?”
- For the pansexual woman who others feel it is ok to sexually assault as she must be ‘easy’.
One of the problems with LGBT+ diversity is that it is hidden. You cannot easily tell who is part of the LGBT+ community. This is why symbols such as the Pride flags matter so much – they speak to people and provide hope. There are many more symbols that are important in a university setting. For example:
- Using inclusive language, departments are now committing to our inclusive language training package;
- Inclusive language in university policies and procedures – for example referring explicitly to issues of sexuality and gender identity in dignity and respect policies encourages people to know they will be supported.
- Asking all new students and members of staff their preferred gender pronouns or, as the university is currently doing, writing a gender identity policy with progressive guidance to help everyone manage our rich diversity.
Such symbolic, and practical, acts have a large impact.
It is important to remember that the university is a hugely diverse community. Many staff and students working and studying here are international – originally coming from countries where to be LGBT+ is illegal. It can be difficult for them to transition the return back to their countries of origin after spending time as part of an inclusive and welcoming community. It is our responsibility as a community to help and support them in doing this.
Here at Bath, we are making a difference. I am proud that we are embracing the work that needs to be done to ensure we are a truly open and inclusive university for everyone who works, studies or visits here.
I am proud to be playing a key role in this, proud to see so many faces here from across the university who also play a vital role in. And I am proud of how as a university we are embracing a university-wide, integrated and sustainable responsibility to inclusion.
Allies and community members, thank you so much for supporting today’s event.
And now I would like to hand over to the wonderful Sophie Miles to explain a bit more about the event.