Yesterday morning, Newcastle University raised its very first rainbow flags in support of Northern Pride and all its LGBT+ staff and students.
The event was an enormous success and meant a lot for both the University and to all who came. It demonstrated Newcastle University’s commitment to preventing social injustice and ensuring every single member of their community feels accepted, included and understood.
Here’s what attendees from around the University had to say about what the day meant to them…
As a Newcastle undergrad 13 years ago, I had no idea how important it is to feel represented by the institution you belong to. University is a life changing time for young people, and sometimes you just need to know that someone else understands you. Raising the flag today feels monumental. To me, it means that young people will see the flags and realise that they are represented here at Newcastle, not only by their LGBT peers, but by the LGBT staff who teach and support them. And by seeing the Newcastle University rainbow lanyards, LGBT students will know that there are people here who understand them. If this makes a positive difference to just one student, then I think we’ve done something right.
Dr Billie Moffat-Knox (Staff Demonstrator, School of Psychology)
It was a great day to show LGBT+ Staff and Students that they are valued by the University. There was a real sense of community and solidarity on campus today. LGBT+ rights have come so far recently however, it is so important to recognise how far we still have to go to achieving full equality and acceptance from society. Many come to University and it’s finally a chance for them to be who they really are, without having to hide any part of their identity. I think that by flying the flag the University is sending out a positive message to anybody; whether you’re a Student, a member of staff or a member of the public. Whoever you are, you are free to be yourself at Newcastle University.
Jack Green (NUSU Welfare and Equality Officer)
I think flying the rainbow flag sends an important message that NU strives to be an inclusive University that recognises and respects its LGBTQI+ staff and students. I was proud to be present this morning, and I hope it sends a signal of hope and encouragement to everyone within and beyond our University about the need to value diversity, which we think about especially during Pride week in Newcastle.
Professor Helen Berry (Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Postgraduate Studies in HASS)
Seeing the rainbow flag being raised over our campus for the first time yesterday meant a lot to me, both personally and professionally. It comes at a time when more than ever we need to take action for change to ensure respect and equality for LGBT+ people. By flying the flag, the University publicly aligns itself with this commitment and I’m proud to be part of that. The rainbow flag was designed 40 years ago as a symbol of hope and has come to mean much more for me throughout my life, as I’m sure it has for many other people worldwide. Here’s to raising the flag over our campus every year from now on.
Rob Bedford (Deputy Team Manager, Student Health and Wellbeing)
I felt it was a significant and optimistic event showing how much we as an institution and a society have moved on. The breakfast was good too!
Dr Sue Thorpe (Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology)
If you didn’t get a chance to be at the flag raising ceremony, don’t worry! The flags will continue to fly all this week outside the Armstrong Building and the Medical School for you to see, and more of our very popular rainbow lanyards are due to arrive in the coming weeks.
You can also show your support by attending Northern Pride this weekend. Saturday’s parade begins at 12pm from the Civic Centre and on Sunday at 9pm there is a candlelit vigil to remember both the successes and the struggles the LGBT+ community have faced, and to reflect on the importance of Pride. You can find more information here.