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To start LGBT+ History Month off, we thought we’d introduce the LGBT+ Network at Students’ Union UCL. Co-convened by the LGBQ+ Officer and the Trans Officer, the Network hosts events, socials and advocates for LGBTQ+ students across the university. We have a committee made up of a diverse range of LGBTQ+ people from across the university, from Medicine to Law, Arts & Science to Natural Sciences.

This LGBT+ History Month theme is “Body, Mind and Spirit”, and very apt for this current time where we may be more isolated from our communities than usual. Looking after our body, mind and spirit is so important and this month we’re looking forward to a film screening, yoga and meditation sessions and lots more. Keep an eye out on our social media (@UCLLGBT on Instagram and Facebook) for updates on what’s going on within the Network and across the university!

View the LGBT+ History Month Events Calendar

For now, here’s an interview with Jimmy, LGBQ+ Officer 2020/21:

What does it mean to be LGBTQ+ and to associate yourself as someone who is LGBTQ+?

Being LGBTQ+ is to be anything outside the heterosexual and/or cisgender norm, but it is so much more than that. To be LGBTQ+ is to be brave, unapologetic and resilient. We are taught through society, through our families, through school that we are not the norm. Internalising this can then take years to unpick, to fully be comfortable as ourselves. We must face the very real threat of being discriminated against because of who we love or how we feel most comfortable within ourselves.

To go up against all of this, and more, takes courage. Whether you are ‘out’ or not, to be LGBTQ+ is to be beautifully defiant in who you are.

What does LGBT+ history month mean for you?

LGBTQ+ History isn’t taught. Particularly as being LGBTQ+ is seen as something new, LGBT+ History Month is incredibly important to highlight the history of queer people. Shock, horror, we’ve been around for ages! Because our stories are often erased, LGBT+ History Month highlights those forgotten narratives, and to celebrate LGBTQ+ people in the past and today.

For me, LGBT+ History Month means reading queer literature and non-fiction, trying to piece together a past that includes the queer people who have been lost along the way. I’ll be doing a book of the week so if you’d like to start learning about LGBTQ+ people keep an eye out for that!

What is your personal experience of being LGBT+ at UCL - what is the community like?

Friendly is the first word that pops into my head! The Network has new people at every event we host, and everyone is a joy to get to know. I remember my first time going to an event and I wasn’t out. I walked into that room of LGBTQ+ students and instantly felt welcomed. I know we’re now online and whilst not the same, I have experienced that same warmth and friendliness over games on Zoom as I did in person at that coffee social.

If you haven’t been sure about whether to come to an event, I would really encourage you to do so. Our committee have been hosting things all year and we’re well equipped with conversation starters, games, films to watch etc!

What support is there at UCL? 

Our events have a whole host of people from a range of backgrounds and offer very good peer-to-peer support too! Asking people what the best non-period drama and no deaths at the end lesbian film is or how someone dealt with parents who weren’t supportive of their gender identity can be really helpful – especially if you have no other LGBTQ+ specific support around you. 

For external LGBTQ+ specific support, Switchboard (LGBT Helpline) are great, and MindOut are a mental health charity specifically for LGBTQ+ people. They have regular online support groups which are viewable here.

What would you want people who aren’t LGBT+ to know about the LGBT+ community?

Lots of things! Crucially that coming out and rejecting the ‘norms’ that you have been taught you entire life is difficult. A kind word or a genuine, “I’m proud of you”, goes a long way. Secondly, listen and learn from LGBTQ+ people. Come along to talks, read my book of the week suggestion, and most importantly, advocate for LGBTQ+ people when others don’t.

That’s all for this week. We have lots of events coming up throughout February so be sure to keep an eye on our social media for updates.

Jimmy (she/her), LGBQ+ Officer 2020/21