In light of World Mental Health Day, here are some articles and stories from our Network members:
When I came out at around 15 years old, I didn’t think very much of it; I had always been attracted to men and women and so when I learned the term for it, it was a simple thought process of “oh there’s a word for who I am, that’s ok”. Whilst it helped somewhat with my identity, it still wasn’t a very big deal.
It wasn’t until I came to university and got involved in the LGBT+ that I realised how different others can view me because of this part of my identity. I received a lot more questions about bisexuality, I learned a lot more about gender as a spectrum, as well as having some negativity and ignorance because of my sexuality. I quickly realised how big of a deal things like “coming out” were, and I realised that was why I never came out to my parents; all of my friends new and I was comfortable with myself by the time I reached university, but there were two thoughts I had. One was worrying about whether or not my parents would accept me, and the second was thinking that because both myself and my parents were so relaxed about life that they wouldn’t be bothered by this news.
Although I never came out to my parents, they worked it out. All of my LGBT+ activist posts on Facebook and talking to my family about my role on committee helped them to realise that I wasn’t straight and that LGBT+ rights is something I care very deeply about. The most recent event was my aunty tagging me in a meme relating to LGBT+ rights and food; although I can’t remember exactly what the meme said, the tag itself was confirmation that my family both knew and accepted me.
Coming out is a big deal to some parents/guardians/friends/relatives etc, but it is almost always a big deal to the person coming out. However, being a part of the LGBT+ Network has taught me how important it is to support each other and remind people that there are always people who will love and support them regardless of their orientations and identities. There will always be someone there for you.
Paige (Welfare Officer)
I don’t think my mental health was ever effected by being LGBT, I was really lucky in that I was able to accept it myself and never had an issue telling my immediate family.
I think my main struggle with the LGBT community is that is can be quite insular, it can label sources of support LGBT friendly/ not LGBT friendly and whilst this is important in some cases I’ve seen whole organisations written off because of one persons bad experience that wasn’t even to do with their sexuality or gender identity. I think we need to be better as communities at sign posting and encouraging each other to get help rather than all trying to support each other whilst we’re all struggling ourselves.
I think it is a very valid issue that we turn to our LGBT siblings for support and we don’t turn to the establishment but I think that shows that more LGBT people, at uni etc need to go on signposting training, need to go on mental health first aid training and suicide awareness training so they can be effective peer supporters.
I think those within the LGBT community who are clinicians and researchers need to look at what aspects of the community the professional support systems need to understand and emulate. I strongly disagree that we need specific LGBT services, but I know this is the feeling a lot of people have.
I just want to see more positivity about mental health in the community rather than this acceptance that we’re mostly all ill, we are mostly all dealing with it with x or y or x, we can’t accept that this is just how things are an ‘x went to that service and had a bad experience so I wouldn’t recommend it’ or ‘well I tried x got no support so…’ (With the impotus that you therefore will also not get support).
We can’t just accept that this is our experience, but a lot of the change needs to come from us. Us accessing services, supporting each other to access services and change services to suit us, not simply boycotting them.
We have tonnes of resources on the welfare page of this site. Some of the local services include:
Nightline is a student-run confidential information and listening service. They are on duty between 19:00 and 08:00 during term time, and are there to offer advice to anyone, and about anything! They can help with welfare and healthcare issues, listen to you when all you need is someone to talk to, and are available 24/7 during exam times to help students through the dreaded exam stress! They can also provide taxi and takeaway numbers, and even all-night alcohol delivery details (not that we condone all-night drinking)! Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved. Nightline are there to help you, nothing is too small. They can be contacted by:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 01159 514985 (external) or 14985 (internal)
- IM: http://www.nottinghamnightline.co.uk/im
- Website: http://www.nottinghamnightline.co.uk
The Nottingham Lesbian and Gay Switchboard is a service set up to provide help and advice to LGBT* individuals in all matters including coming out, homo/bi/trans*phobia, sexual and mental well-being and many others. They can also help the families of LGBT* people who come out by providing advice and information. They can be contacted by Phone between 7:00pm and 9:30pm (01159348485 or 01623 621515), email (email@example.com) or text (07624 809360).
National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline
T: 0800 999 5428
Emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse. Abuse isn’t always physical- it can be psychological, emotional, financial and sexual too. Speak out, don’t suffer in silence.
From 10 to 16 October, the University of
Nottingham LGBT Network is proud to be running an awareness week. The LGBT community is vibrant in its intersectionality and diversity, and with 11 October being National Coming Out Day, we are going to be sharing an entire week of events aimed at raising awareness, celebrating the community, and opening dialogue between non-LGBT people and the community.
[Reminder of safe space policy: please do not ask people about their intersections, do not ‘hit’ on someone in a way that would make them feel uncomfortable, and – obviously – no transphobia, homophobia, racism, or any other form of hatred.]
Here is a look at what we have planned:
On Monday, 10 October, we are running a cafe event where we welcome you to join us for some food and drink, and to have a safe space to chat. With it coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Day, we are focusing on providing a space for talking about mental health, with members of the counselling service and our own Welfare team available for support. The event is running from 12 to 3 in A19, Trent Building.
On Tuesday, 11 October, keep an eye out on a special episode of University Radio Nottingham’s LGBT show The Identity Talk, where panellists will be talking about the dynamics of coming out. Tune in to http://www.urn1350.net at 6. On a lighter note, we are holding a pub quiz at The White Hart from 7:30pm onwards, with a focus on LGBT history. Everyone is welcome to attend and we ask for some donations to go to our Supporting Trans Members fund. Plus, it is National Coming Out Day so feel free – within your comfort zone – to express your Pride.
Wednesday 12 October has two events. Out in Education is running a presentation to talk about their amazing work from 1 to 2 in C27 Portland. In the evening, we have a panel of LGBT students who are going to be doing a Q&A session on being LGBT in the workplace. Bring your questions to LG11 Trent from 7 to 9.
Thursday 13 October also has two events. From 4 to 5, the university’s Rights and Justice research area is giving a presentation in the Studio in Portland to highlight one of the biggest LGBT research academic clusters in the UK. It’s a great way to find out about how you can contact academics if you want to do LGBT research or just want to find out what the uni is doing. In the evening, we have an amazing panel of individuals representing the Nottinghamshire LGBT Network, Nottingham Outburst, the Nottingham Trans Action Hub, QTIPOC Notts, and one of the former LGBT Officers of our uni who will be talking about the different intersections of the LGBT Community Today. It promises to be a deep and exciting look at what we have achieved and still have to work on, and it will run from 7 to 9 in C7, Trent.
On Friday 14 October, Duncan Anderson, a student medic and Network member is going to be giving a presentation on sexual health, including talking about men/men, women/women and trans intimacy. The session is from 6 to 7 in D136 Portland.
Saturday 15 October sees a day of collaborations with QTIPOC Notts, a support, socials and activist network for LGBT people of colour. From 13 to 3 in the Portland Concourse, they are running a really cool and relaxed cafe for a way to find out how people can get involved as members or allies. Later in the evening, from 7 onwards, we are co-hosting QTIPOCalypse Part 2 in the Studio Live space in Portland. This is an open mic night and we welcome everyone to attend and perform. Please do get in touch with Ibtisam Ahmed if you want to perform, but also feel free to walk up to the mic on the day.
To round off the week, we are going to be showing Pride in the Hallward Screening Room at 1 on Sunday 16 October. We hope that it proves to be a fun and uplifting way to finish an excellent week!
We’re happy to announce that the first issue of our new ZINE is now published available to read at the following link. It features articles submitted by YOU, network members, as well as an introduction to the committee and a sneak peek at upcoming events! To get involved with future zines, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Today is Bisexual Visibility Day! Unfortunately, bisexuals are on the receiving end of quite a bit of ignorance, both in society in general, and in LGBT communities. So here’s a little bit of destigmatization and information:
– We’re not confused! We’re not unsure of who we’re attracted to; we can be attracted to anyone.
– This doesn’t mean we fancy you. Don’t flatter yourself. Sometimes you’re just not our type.
– Please don’t ask us to have a threesome with you and your partner. We probably don’t want to. We might, but we’ll ask you.
– We are not more likely to cheat on you. Loyalty has nothing to do with the amount of people we can be sexually attracted to. Just because we like more than one sex or gender, doesn’t mean we’re going to have sex with anything that moves.
– On that note, we’re not all sexually promiscuous. Some of us might enjoy threesomes and open relationships, whilst others might not. The number of people we might be sexually attracted to is greater, but the amount of sex we have isn’t necessarily more than a hetero/homosexual person would.
– We might not even be sexually active or interested. There are asexual people who are romantically attracted to multiple genders or sexes, but aren’t interested in sex.
– A bisexual woman who is dating a woman is not homosexual.
– A bisexual woman who is dating a man is not heterosexual.
– Same goes for men.
– We’re always bisexual, regardless of our current partner’s gender.
Anyway, here are some bi things. Happy Bi Visibility Day!
Hello, the Network has been contacted regarding the use of the word queer in a few of our social media posts because of the negative connotations it can carry, its problematic history, and the fact that some non-LGBT+ also use it to mean sexually subversive. As one of the Campaigns Coordinators, and the person who was responsible for the tweets in question, I’d like to make some clarifications, and apologize for any offense that may have been caused.
The use of the word in recent posts, which is what the concerns were referring to, were to do with Stockholm Pride (with reference to a tent that was named “Queers of Faith”) and about a course that I attended earlier this summer on gender and sexuality rights and activism worldwide. Here, the word was specifically being used to cater to an international audience, because the acronym LGBT+ does not translate into multiple languages. While queer is also an English word and one that definitely carries very specific and potentially distressing baggage in the West, it has been used as an emancipator term in other countries that are trying to talk to a global LGBT+ movement without losing touch of their own contexts. It is more easily transferable without having to rearrange the entire acronym, and it speaks to cultures, such as my own, where LGBT+ identities are not understood in the same vein as in the UK. in order to do justice to these very specific events, I felt it would have been unfair to relabel the terminology they were using.
Further, there are those in the Network and in the LGBT+ community more widely even in the UK who feel the term more accurately represents their identity and that is not something that should be ignored either. We’ll be discussing why some people feel that “queer” is a term integral to their identity, whilst others see it as offensive, in a podcast at the start of the academic year.
In the meantime, if anyone comes across the term in future posts (and in any posts that might have been left behind), please be mindful of the intersectional and international make-up of the Network, and that the usage of the term reflects that. “Queer” can be offensive in some contexts, and we are very much aware of that, but in the context of the Network, it is never meant as anything less than understanding and accepting.
Thank you for your understanding.
Love and solidarity,
For those of you who are not part of the mailing list – please join by becoming a member of the Network! All you have to do is click on the SU website link and add membership to your basket (it’s free!!).
Below is an email I sent out just now, full of stuff I think you guys should know before the next academic year begins.
With a new academic year beginning, we have a new committee. My name is Lux and I’m your new LGBT+ officer. You can find out more about myself and the other committee members here: https://uon-su-lgbt.com/committee/. (Hover over the “committee” link and select “contact” for all of our email addresses.)
This email will contain a brief outline of what the LGBT+ Network plans on doing this year – please do read on because we have a lot of exciting things in store!
- Website: https://uon-su-lgbt.com/
- SU Page: http://www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/societies/society/lgbt/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UoNLGBT14/
- Private Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/125277165294/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uonlgbt/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/uonsu_lgbt
- Tumblr: http://uon-lgbt-network.tumblr.com/
I’ve put a lot of thought into the best way to organise the network – meeting the aims of the network effectively and sorting them into roles that can be on committee. I’ve had some questions as to why we no longer have reps on committee, so I thought this might be worth explaining:
A couple of years ago we had a lot of reps on committee (including BME, disabled, postgrad etc.). It was largely the case that the reps didn’t do as much as the committee members with specific roles, seeing as their role was simply to be representative of a certain group. Whilst inclusivity is important, we are making a massive effort this year to make the network as effective as possible, at the same time as keeping inclusivity in mind. I think it will be far more conducive to the network to focus on the roles that have an active part in meeting our aims, and therefore not having representative roles on committee.
The aims of the network are: (copied from the constitution)
- Aim and Objectives
- The aims of the Network shall be to create a safe and engaging space for LGBT+ students through:
- Supporting the network members through our welfare team as well as signposting the various welfare and outreach programs in Nottingham and at the University.
- Organising campaigns on issues affecting our members and to further the equality of LGBT+ students in the university environment.
- Organising various social events through which LGBT+ students can meet each other in a safe space.
- Provide all services in a way that is fair and accessible to everyone.
- The aims of the Network shall be to create a safe and engaging space for LGBT+ students through:
Our three Welfare Officers are involved with 1.1.1, we have two Campaigns Coordinators in charge of 1.1.2, and two Social Secretaries to cover 1.1.3. We also have a General Secretary and Treasurer who handles our admin, finances, and deputises in my absence.
Whilst I understand that there’s a difference between being represented and having a general committee, I feel that the welfare team can undertake any representation issues that surface. For example, the welfare team directed trans+ issues my way last year (when I was a social sec) because I identify as non-binary. Our committee this year is relatively diverse, so hopefully most representation/intersection issues can be pointed in the direction of a relevant committee member. If not, then the committee as a team will work together to tackle the member’s needs, and perhaps even using outside resources (such as other networks and welfare resources within the university).
In this way, I feel that it’s more effective to have a small, aims-based committee rather than a large one where some of the roles aren’t as active as others.
- Constitution: we’re re-writing our constitution. This is a document that outlines the aims of the Network, as well as how the committee should be run, how elections should take place, etc. Please keep an eye out on the website and Facebook pages as we’ll be polling to see what changes you’d like us to include.
- Supporting Trans+ Members (STM): this year I’ve started a project whereby we’ll be providing our trans+ members with free or discounted necessities. Being a student is financially challenging as it is, let alone being a trans+ student and having to purchase things to tackle dysphoria. Further, it’s often dangerous to your health to buy cheap and low-quality products (binders, for example, can cause a lot of damage to your ribs and lungs if they’re not good quality). If you identify as anything under the trans+ umbrella and are in need of some discounted or free products, please do respond to this email with a link to a product you’d like or a short description and we’ll place you on the waiting list. To fund STM, we’ll be running a number of FUNdraisers (haha), such as bar crawls, pub quizzes, etc.
- Awareness Week: the week beginning the 10th of October will be dedicated to raising awareness of the different intersections within the LGBT+ community. The aim of this is to help understanding of LGBT+ identities, especially with National Coming Out Day being the 11th. There’ll be talks and events as well as posters and flyers all around the university. Keep an eye out for ways to get involved!
- Zine: this will be a creative space for us to share stories, write articles, review LGBT+ media, poetry, art and more. Ellis Harris will be the Zine editor – please feel free to email email@example.com to see how you can help with the next edition.
We have a lot of fun things planned including:
- Bar crawls
- Scene crawls in different cities
- Cafes (food and drink on UP campus) and Mooch socials
- Intersection cafes (events geared at specific LGBT+ intersections)
- Pride club night
Join the Facebook group to find out specifics closer to the time!
Thank you for reading this long and arduous email, I hope this is as lengthy as they’ll get in the coming year.
I hope you’re all having a fun and safe summer! Remember that our welfare team is always available if you’re having a tough time.
That’s all for now, but if you have any questions, please do email me!
Your LGBT+ Officer,
In light of the Orlando shooting the Welfare team would like to offer our support and reminders that however you need to grieve for this event, that’s okay. There is no ‘right’ way to process what you’re feeling, and you are under no obligation to speak outwardly and against this event if that is detrimental to your own wellbeing. The most important thing following from this event is showing support and solidarity within our community, and that may take many different forms. First and foremost we need to look after ourselves, and self-care is paramount to that.
Here is a list of ideas for ways of practicing self-care are:
- Taking a break from social media – if seeing reminders and images from the event is taking its toll, it’s okay to avoid these platforms for a while. You aren’t obligated to be reminded of the pain we’re all feeling right now.
- Reaching out to others – this may particularly be important if you’re someone who isn’t out, as it may be difficult to conceal why you’re so affected by this event if people around you aren’t aware of your gender and/or orientation. So try to talk to people who are aware and remember that the welfare team’s email is always open (welfare@org)
- Using a hobby as a distraction – whether it’s reading, watching your favourite Disney film, going for a walk, or watching funny animal videos, using distractions can be extremely valuable at this time. It’s okay to not want to think about what happened for a while and there are many ways of focusing on something else that are available.
- Managing your mental wellbeing – for those who already deal with mental health problems it can be extremely emotionally draining when something like this happens. Try to remember ways of coping, such as eating and drinking enough, taking medication, practicing mindfulness, and remember that we’re all here to support each other through this.
Rosie, Welfare Officer
For the first time ever we present to you the University of Nottingham’s Networks’ Ball 2016!
This year we’ll be wining and dining together at the East Midlands Conference Centre to celebrate each individual network’s hard work as well as networks overall working and collaborating together throughout the year. A perfect ending to the year and just in time for the handing over to the new Part Time Network Officers.
Every network group* and its members are invited; it will truly be a night not to miss. Tickets include a 3 course meal as well as a drink on arrival (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). *Networks: Women’s, LGBT, BME, International, Mature Students, Postgraduate Network, Disabled Students, UoN Fems, Environmental & Social Justice.
Performances: We’re pleased to say that we’ll have pole dancing, singing performances, Luxx Andrews the drag queen, and blade soc! On top of this, we’ll have magicians doing close-up magic before the meal!
Join the event to stay up to date: https://www.facebook.com/events/1878426519050792/?active_tab=posts
TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE: http://www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/events/7601/8290/
Spaces are limited so be sure to secure yourself a space!
TABLE FORMS: Table Form
Maximum 10 people per table, minimum 5, however if you have less we can build tables, just tell us the Network you’d prefer to sit with and we will arrange it for you!
Please send all forms, alongside any table/food queries, to firstname.lastname@example.org
As you’re no doubt aware, yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a celebration on the anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness – a fact especially relevant with this year’s focus on mental well-being within the LGBT+ community. With the World Psychiatric Association and the United Nations both speaking out within the past few months against the idea of variance in gender identities and sexual orientations being considered a mental disorder, there’s definitely cause to celebrate how far we’ve come with the acceptance of LGBT+ identities in the past twenty-five years. With the largest global authority on psychiatry condemning the use of conversion therapies and the medicalization of LGBT+ identities in order to further discriminatory agendas, and rainbow flags flying from more world landmarks than I could count on both hands, I do feel genuine pride in our community’s progress towards acceptance and equality.
Through banding together and refusing to back down, we have made enough noise to get ourselves recognised throughout so much of the world, and not just that. We’re constantly taking steps towards being accepted and, on days like this, even celebrated. We haven’t done this just by being our fabulous selves, however. The huge victories and leaps forward in progress we’ve made in recent years have made attitudes around the world more polarised than ever. While much of the world is showing support for their LGBT+ communities and allowing us to take the stage and make our voices heard for at least one day of the year, there are many places that’re now working harder than ever to silence the voices of their queer communities. Despite massive successes in many countries, several conferences, celebrations and protests had to be cancelled or disbanded yesterday throughout the world, even in countries which have held such events to celebration IDAHOBIT in the past, for the safety of the people involved. Look, for example, to the news. There are stories about the murders of high-profile LGBT activists in Bangladesh, organisations such as Proud Lebanon being prevented from holding their events due to threats posed by people opposed to their cause and these are just two of the stories that have caught mainstream attention, barely a glimpse of the countless queerphobic hate crimes that are on the rise throughout the world when people are brave enough to be open about their LGBT+ status.
This, I know, can be disheartening, but I’m not trying to dampen the sense of pride we should feel in our community in the light of celebrations like yesterday. Rather, it should inspire us to band together. Our community is gathering support in so many parts of the world, with many big recent breakthroughs such as the legalisation of same-gender marriage in many countries, the introduction of a mainstream gender neutral title in the English language and the practice of legally allowing people to self-identify in terms of their gender on the rise. Activists in countries in which being LGBT+ are dangerous are still standing up for themselves, and we too can stand up for them. While our work is far from done, it’s important to focus on the incredible progress we have made in such a short time. International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia really brings the global nature of the LGBT+ community into the public eye. It lays out in front of us all of our achievements, and all the challenges we are yet to face. It highlights the true gravity of our movement, the waves we can make when we stand together, and stand proud. On a smaller scale, we can appreciate our close community more than ever.
Our LGBT+ Network here at the University of Nottingham has done so much to embrace LGBT+ students from all sorts of backgrounds and who identify with the community in all sorts of ways and allowed so many of us to become firm friends. It’s ensured there will always be a safe space for LGBT+ students to celebrate their identities and be themselves, and cultivated a strong presence which communicates a message of support, letting everyone know that we’re around, we’re proud, and we will not tolerate anyone discriminating against members of our community in any way, and for any reason. Every day might not be an international celebration, but every small expression of solidarity within our network is yet another stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, a small contribution to the greater cause, and while it may not change the whole world, it can certainly be life-changing for individuals. That, I think, is worth celebrating.
– Gabriel Jackson, first year BA English student
More on IDAHoBiT: