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Andrew Besford LGBT+ History Month blog

This LGBT+ History Month our non-executive director, Andrew Besford talks about his role as Ambassador for Sexual Orientation. A role he shares with Kate Thompson, Head of HR. Here Andrew highlights the support available for LGBT+ staff and the importance of raising awareness saying:

“This year’s LGBT+ History Month is themed around art, which gives us the opportunity to celebrate the importance of art, music, film, TV and literature in establishing broader cultural awareness and acceptance of difference.

My personal recollection as a child was that most of the positive images I saw of LGBT+ people came from music. I vividly remember all of us watching Top of the Pops, seeing the likes of Jimmy Somerville, Elton John and Freddie Mercury. By having these voices we took a big step towards increasing the visibility of LGBT+ people and allowing everybody to be themselves, at a time when LGBTQ+ people were facing the severity of homophobia and transphobia during the AIDS epidemic.

 

30(ish!) years later, Top of the Pops is long gone, our music comes from Spotify, and the song for my young daughter’s dance class this term, which she loves and hums constantly, is by Years & Years. This prompted me to re-watch Olly Alexander’s inspiring speech at Glastonbury in 2019. He has used his success to promote open discussions on HIV, queer relationships and sexuality, as well as eating disorders (such as bulimia, which he has personally suffered from), and to make an acclaimed performance in Russell T. Davies’ TV drama It’s A Sin.

Meanwhile a close friend of mine has spoken about how Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette helped her recently when she became ready to embrace her sexuality in her 30s.

So this year’s LGBT+ History Month gives us the opportunity to recognise the people who have challenged cultural norms to bring their authentic selves to their art, and provided recognisable, visible identities that have helped LGBT+ people to see themselves and their experiences reflected in our cultural life.

As board champions for sexual orientation, Kate and I hugely value the contribution the LGBT+ Network group makes to the Trust. We want to hear what’s going well, and the areas where we still need to improve, to make sure that the Trust is a truly inclusive place to work. So please keep contributing to the group and keep challenging us.

This year we have a variety of events going on during LGBT+ History Month, including library displays, staff coming out stories and a Post Valentine day LGBT+ Arts-based quiz for staff that will be open to our colleagues in the regional NHS networks. I hope you get the chance to take part in some of them, and to celebrate the contribution LGBT+ artists of all kinds make to our culture.”

Here are a range of ways you can get involved

 

 


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