‘Without positive, visible role models who you can identify with, it is very difficult to imagine yourself succeeding, achieving your goals, progressing in your career, helping others and living full, complete and healthy lives.’

This article has images of self-defined queer and LGBT+ role models and activists.

Background

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Sabah Choudrey, Co-founder of Trans Pride Brighton, Transgender Muslim Activist

February is LGBT history month, providing educators, organisations, institutions and media with the opportunity to raise awareness about the lives of LGBT+ people and those who contribute to society, the arts, sports, politics and much more. The theme this year is Peace, Activism and Reconciliation.

We still live in a time when LGBT+ people are oppressed in many countries around the world, some are put to death, others are imprisoned, many are denied the right to live with those they love and there are those who are denied the right to employment. It was only this year that the US government sought to limit the right of trans identified people to work in the military.

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Dr Topher Campbell, queer activist, theatre and filmmaker and writer, is the co-founder of London’s rukus! archive.

This year also sees continued violence and incarceration of LGBT+ people in Chechnya. While there are positive things that have happened, such as Angola repealing anti-gay laws, we all – LGBT people and allies – have a long way to go to ensure current rights are not rolled back and to extend human rights to all LGBT+ people across the world. Every interaction counts in promoting a safe, fair world for those who have minority gender and sexual identities.

Who is your role model?

This year, we invite you to submit a brief paragraph of who you consider to be an LGBT+ role model. Anyone in the UK can participate, regardless of whether you work for BSUH NHS Trust or not. We especially welcome patients, carers and students to submit their choices. The role model could be a member of your family, someone famous or an ally who has supported you as an LGBT+ person.

Selected entries will be posted on the Equality Hub as part of our contribution to raising the profile of LGBT+ role models from all walks of life all year round. Young people still have few LGBT+people to look up to, to model good behaviour on. Even those that are active role models, are rarely given coverage by mainstream press other than during LGBT+ events/celebrations. The legacy of Section 28 still overshadows mainstream discourse about LGBT+ rights. In terms of the workplace, while we have a few visible high profile people who are LGBT+ in business and industry, there are very few senior, visible, LGBT+ people and LGBT+ allies in the upper strata of the NHS and other public sector organisations.

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Campbell X, Award-winning film-maker and activist

So why not step forward and submit your role model so we can celebrate their courage and their commitment to inclusion, and also build an inclusive narrative of LGBT+ people that others can refer to, so they can see that they too can have lives that are positive and healthy. They have a right to strive in their chosen careers and achieve their ambitions.

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BD Wong (Actor and activist) with husband Richert Schnorr

Without positive, visible role models who can (in)directly build confidence and raise self-esteem, it is very difficult to imagine yourself succeeding, helping others and living full, complete and healthy lives. This is especially the case for LGBT+ people who are constantly thwarted by low-level homophobia and negativity from those who choose to curb our progress and lives.

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Vikram Seth, Novelist and Poet

At the end of the month, the best entry will be selected to receive an Equality Hub goodie bag! So get writing, take pictures and send your entries to Olivia.King@bsuh.nhs.uk.

Resources and training

For those of you who haven’t booked a separate Gender and Sexual Diversity awareness session, why not use February as an opportunity to do so. The session can be run as a workshop or a drop-in Q&A briefing which provides teams with the opportunity to ask questions in a safe, non-judgemental space.

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DJ Ritu co-founder of Club Kali and Activist

It is important for everyone who works for the NHS to be aware of gender and sexual diversity and how it relates to delivering equitable healthcare and a safe working environment for staff who are LGBTQ+. Contact Olivia.King@bsuh.nhs.uk for more information.

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Tom Daley (athlete) and husband Dustin Lance Black (screenwriter)

LGBT History Month Pack 2019 with foreward by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, founder of UK Black Pride.