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