Category Archives: LGBT+

Issues facing the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual plus) community and what we are doing at Newcastle University to tackle them.

Newcastle Pride 2018

This weekend marked the eleventh year of Newcastle Pride, and what an incredible Pride it was.

The main celebrations kicked off at 12pm on Saturday from the Civic Centre, with an estimated 20,000 people marching all the way from the city centre to Nuns Moor Park, and thousands more lining the route in support. This year was the largest Newcastle Pride to date, and in some places the loud, colourful parade took over half an hour to pass onlookers.

The atmosphere was joyful, energetic, and most of all, accepting. All across the city, the rainbow flag was present. People wore it, painted themselves with it and carried it. It flew proudly in pubs, shops and at Newcastle University, celebrating 50 years of rainbow.

Festival director, Stephen Willis, highlighted this year’s efforts to make Pride inclusive for all, stressing that they had “strived to make sure that there was something for all ages and identities”. And that there was. Marchers of all genders, ages and races (and even a few furry friends!) came out to show their support, demonstrating how diverse of a place Newcastle truly is. Importantly, the route was also accessible, ensuring those with a disability could participate.

There were also marchers from local and national organisations, including community groups, retailers and the emergency services. People demonstrated their diversity, creativity and freedom through their outfits. Some came on stilts, and one was even dressed as the Queen.

Supporters carried placards and banners bearing poignant slogans such as “it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be” and “love is a human right”. Meanwhile, others took a more humorous approach, including a bee-themed sign with the words “bee proud” written on it.

Near Haymarket, the air ambulance circled overhead in support, adding their sirens to the sounds of whistles, singing and army drums; and on Nuns Moor, there was music from artists such as S Club, Alexandra Burke, Gareth Gates, Steps and the Vengaboys. The weekend closed with a candlelit vigil at 9pm on Sunday, where thousands of candles were lit to remind people of the significance of Pride.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend that truly demonstrated how far both the LGBT+ community and society has come. Bring on Pride 2019!

Pride in Newcastle University

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.

Flying the Flag for Northern Pride

This month sees the return of Newcastle Pride to the city for an eleventh year, with the main event taking place on Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd of July. It’s the largest free Pride in the UK and Saturday’s annual march is expected to be attended by over 16,000 people. In celebration of this year’s theme, 40 Years of Rainbow, Newcastle University will be flying its first rainbow flag from flagpoles outside the Medical School and the Armstrong Building.

If you would like to come along and see it raised, the ceremony will start at 8am on the 16th of July outside the Armstrong Building on Victoria Road. The ceremony will then move to the Medical School entrance, where the second flag will be raised and a celebratory breakfast will be served at 8.30am in the Atrium of the Medical School (you can register for breakfast here). The flag is being raised by Professor Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Executive Board Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion.

The rainbow flag was first designed by gay rights activist and artist, Gilbert Baker, in 1978, on the request of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to a high public office in the US. Milk intended the flag to be “not about personal gain, not about ego, not about or power” but about “giving those young people out there hope”. Today, the rainbow flag is that everything Milk dreamed it would be and more. It has become an enduring symbol of pride, unity and equality for the LGBT+ community and it flies in gay villages and at Pride events all across the world.

At Newcastle University, the rainbow flag is a symbol of the university’s commitment to preventing prejudice and injustice towards its own LGBT+ community and the hope that we continue to be a place that encourages diversity and allows everyone to reach their full potential. Newcastle has recently set up the Rainbow Network in pursuit of this goal, which offers support to LGBT+ staff and postgraduate research students, and continues to assist the LGBT+ Society in their work on campus. So come along to the flag raising ceremony on the 16th of July to celebrate Newcastle University’s LGBT+ community and 40 years of the rainbow flag, we’d love to see you there!

Boys in dresses?

Last week John Lewis became the first UK retailer to abandon gender categories on their own-brand children’s clothing. Their head of children’s wear explained the decision, stating ““We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes…and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers.” Hoorah to that!

A quick Google search for ‘boys dresses’ to find a suitable picture for this post resulted only in what you see above. Something out of Tudor times. Or from another continent. John Lewis are the first UK clothing chain to acknowledge that perhaps the enforced labelling of what a boy or girl ‘should’ wear is similarly archaic and culturally constrained. Rather than re-designing their clothing range, they have simply ditched the labels and abandoned the separate sections characteristic of most clothes stores.

But is this ‘political correctness’ gone mad? One MP has criticised the decision saying “Boys and girls labels and signs are informative. I think removing them could be very confusing for the consumer… I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy.” He is, perhaps, missing the point. Which is exactly that we need to move away from this mentality that a certain type of clothing is meant for one sex or the other.

We should also give parents some credit. Moving the pasta next to the jam in a supermarket doesn’t send your average adult into turmoil because they wouldn’t expect those two things to be together. They might need to ask the first time. But then they’ll get it. Perhaps no boy really wants to wear a skirt. But is that because none of the other boys are doing it yet? Or because mum or dad walks straight past the ‘girls’ section in the store? Maybe little girls do want to wear pink flowery dresses, and that’s fine.They’re still on the shelves. It’s just now, they will be on the shelf next to the purple dinosaur top or the pink star shorts. And parents won’t be dictated to as to which child they’re designed for.


We no longer say ‘thee’ and ‘thou’…

Tube sign

Last week, Transport for London (TFL) announced that they will be adopting gender-neutral announcements across their network and ditching the old “Ladies and gentlemen” salutations. Really, it’s about time. If you even, for one minute, leave aside the fact that this traditional greeting excludes those sections of society who do not identify as being either of those things, it’s at the very simplest level, old-fashioned and out-dated language. One does not wonder, as they stand on a dusty tube platform “Wherefore dost thou methods of transportation be of such a tardy nature?”. So there’s really no need for the announcements to follow a similarly Shakespearean format. The Globe might be around the corner, but that kind of prose is best left to the actors.

The decision to abolish gender-entombed terminology has been met with heated discussion on various online forums and articles, with some individuals claiming that they are a lady/gentleman and why should they be ‘excluded’ by taking away this title? But surely the alternative greeting ‘Good morning everyone’ is nothing but inclusive? It even incorporates those pesky tube rats.

‘Be’ is a voluntary organisation based locally here in the North East that supports the needs and development of Trans and non-binary individuals. In response to some of the backlash appearing online, they have written a thought-provoking blog post addressing some of the comments and issues raised over the past week. Their message is clear: Language matters. And by making what are really only minor changes to how we address one another, we can have a massive impact on how comfortable we make one another feel.

As Northern Pride hits the Town Moor for 3 days of celebrating diversity with music and fun this weekend, perhaps this is exactly the time when we need to take a second to mind what we say. Volunteers from FMS will be going along to support a range of stalls and events happening over the weekend and cheer along the Frontrunners race . So we’re certain that the only salutations to be heard there will be ‘Go for it. You’re bloomin’ great!’