Recap: Allies Event – What do Pride events mean to LGBT+ people in the UK?
By Tom Reaney
Following the success of the first Allies event in March, Tuesday 12th June 2018 saw the second Allies event take place – this time focussing on the meaning of Pride events to LGBT+ people in the UK. With over 100 registrants, the event included an illuminating research presentation (despite a power cut!) and a lively Q&A panel session.
Sheffield Hallam’s Head of Equality and Diversity, Aloma Onyemah kicked things off, saying: “Pride events are a celebration of who you are, of having the freedom to be who you are every single day. Pride events are to me an incredibly happy, proud and wonderful moment to celebrate those freedoms which others before us fought so hard for. There is of course still much to be done and we as a university continue to work with our partners at Stonewall and SAYiT to be LGBT+ inclusive for our whole university community.”
Sinead O’Toole (SIGNAL co-chair) fed back on the success of the last Allies event, which focussed on trans awareness. It was great to hear that 100% of respondents to the event evaluation survey enjoyed that event. Perhaps more rewarding were the examples of personal and practical ideas attendees took away with them, to various areas of the University.
Then followed a presentation from Dr Eleanor Formby, who presented some of her research findings, as featured in her recently published book ‘Exploring LGBT Spaces and Communities: Contrasting Identities, Belongings and Wellbeing‘. She highlighted the findings where participants spoke about Pride events and explored the idea of ‘temporary’ LGBT+ spaces – how they are formed, what they offer some (but not all) LGBT+ people, aspects of celebration and protest, inclusivity and many other issues. Bonus points go to Eleanor for persevering through a complete power cut!)
After a short networking break, there followed a Q&A panel discussion – chaired by
James Laley (SIGNAL Co-Chair) and featuring:
- Eleanor Formby (Reader in Sociology and Youth Studies, author of Exploring LGBT Spaces and Communities)
- Sinead O’Toole (Future Spaces Manager and SIGNAL Co-Chair)
- Steve Slack (CEO of SAYiT – Sheena Amos Youth Trust)
- Tom Reaney (SIGNAL member and Chair of D.E.N Film Productions)
The panel gave thoughts on what Pride events mean to them, and responded to a wide range of questions and discussion points, including (amongst others):
- Straight people attending Pride events (and LGBT+ spaces in general)
- Student representative roles being exclusively held for those who identify as the role up for election
- How heterosexual and cisgender privileges can be acknowledged/checked in talking about, supporting and attending Pride events
- Intersectionality and Pride events (esp. LGBT+/BAMER people)
- Other identities and Pride event inclusivity/’welcomeness’ (e.g. asexual people)
The session wrapped up with a reminder that everyone is invited to support Sheffield Hallam in our partnership with key local LGBT+ events – namely Pinknic on the 14th July and Pride Sheffield on the 28th July. This can be by donating materials for the stall, volunteering some time to staff the stall at either event, walking in the Pride march or simply by sharing and retweeting our LGBT+ social media messages.
Top left, James Laley and Tom Reaney. Top right, Dr Eleanor Formby and Sinead O’Toole. Bottom left, Steve Slack. Bottom right, The panel powers through despite a power cut!
You can find out more information about the Allies network on the SIGNAL blog here.