We won!

The Staff LGBT+ Network won the ‘Business Award for LGBT+’ at the Bristol Diversity Awards on Saturday 18th May.

LGBT+ Staff Committee member Amelia Pereira attended the awards with members of the LGBT+ Staff Network for an evening of food, entertainment and over 30 awards. Upon receiving our award, the hosts had this to say about the Network:

‘The University of Bristol LGBT+ Staff Network lead by Suzanne Doyle and Nick Skelton have turned the Network into a visible, social, engaging and active network, having created a committee of ten. The University now sponsor Pride, support LGBT+ History Month, have made policies more inclusive, ran all aspects of EDI training, and the Staff Network on the Registrars award for Diversity, Best Employer and Best Stall at the Bristol Pride Awards. Congratulations, University of Bristol LGBT+ Staff Network!’

It was a lovely evening and obviously incredibly diverse, there were over 250 attendees, most of whom were wearing traditional dress from a massive array of cultures and backgrounds. The food was excellent, the event ran really well and the entertainment (RSVP, a live Bhangra band) was fantastic.

It was great to see so many businesses and city folk at the event from all corners of Bristol and this was championed by the Lord Mayors speech at the end of the night about our diverse, inclusive, proactive, vibrant and beautiful city.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), is observed annually on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transophobia and to draw attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.

  • History of TDoR

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Massachusetts.  Since its inception, TDoR has been held annually on November 20, and it has slowly evolved from the web-based project started into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.

Typically, a TDoR memorial includes a reading of the names of those who lost their lives during the previous year, and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, art shows, food drives, film screenings, and marches. 

  • Bristol Vigil

Bristol will be holding a TDOR Vigil on Wednesday 21st November in the Anson Rooms in Bristol SU (first floor).  Please note that this event is a vigil for Transgender individuals worldwide who have lost their lives in this past year, and therefore the nature of the event may be upsetting for some. Representatives from Mindline Trans+ will be available during and after the Vigil should anyone need to speak with them. For more information, visit this website: transpridesw.webs.com

  • Personal blog about what TDoR means to Amelia (Trans rep for the LGBT+ Network)

Transgender people are still largely misunderstood in today’s society. I was at a gig the other day where the singer of the band – a queer woman – dedicated a song to ‘all my queer brothers and sisters in the crowd’  then went on to explain that the following song was about the gender binary and why she doesn’t believe in it or think it is necessary in society. I cheered this but looking around the room there were some puzzled faces, even at a punk rock show, a genre famed for inclusivity and acceptance.

I feel that I’m always asking myself why transgender and non-binary people are so misunderstood but I ask myself more why there is such violence towards them. Why do people have to resort to violence against people they don’t understand? It saddens me that as a community we have to hold a day to remember our brothers and sisters that we have lost to crimes committed against them and that the society we live in has forced us to create this day of remembrance.

I saw in the crowd last night faces of bemusement at the dedication made by this bands singer, but these same faces sat atop bodies which adorned by band t-shirts – bands who have spoken up for LGBT+ rights. Which made me think, the people I share this crowd with don’t actually care about who the song is dedicated to. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, these people know trans and non-binary people exist but it just doesn’t bother them. They don’t care what bathrooms we use, how we dress or even how we identify. They know we’re here but they aren’t phased by us, they think of us as any other member of society.

So where is the line, where do people become aware of our existence but make a conscious decision to dislike us to the point where they chose to act violently towards us? Hate and bigotry aren’t something we are born with, we are taught to hate and we then act on these feelings. Punk rock teaches to love, include and accept, as well as to embrace those who are different or outcasted. It is so easy to teach hate and division but seemingly much harder to teach love and respect, yet the scene I am an audience member of teaches that love and respect with so much ease, to the point where so many of its members don’t even realise they have learned it. I’d love to create a society where everyone can be taught to love in such a passive way, instead of taught hatred and misunderstanding.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and learning more about TDoR!


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Asexual Awareness Week



Asexual Awareness Week: 21st -27th October aims to celebrate and bring awareness to asexuality. An asexual person experiences little or no sexual attraction but it’s important to note that there are other types of attraction including:

  • Sensual attraction – attraction based on desire for non-sexual physical intimacy e.g. cuddling, snuggling
  • Romantic attraction – attraction based on desire for emotional intimacy
  • Aesthetic attraction – attraction based on finding someone visually pleasing
  • Platonic attraction – attraction based on desire for friendly interaction

As with sexual attraction, someone can experience these types of attraction towards people of the same gender and/or a different gender or not experience them at all. For example, I’m asexual homosensual and heteroromantic so not experiencing sexual attraction, attracted to men for non-sexual physical intimacy and attracted to women for emotional intimacy.

Despite it being estimated that about 1% of people are asexual, asexuality is a sexual orientation that is rarely talked about and often forgotten, resulting in erasure. Whilst representation is slowly increasing, asexual TV and film characters are often presented in a way that perpetuates dangerous stereotypes that asexuals are all introverted, socially awkward, naive and in some way ‘broken’. BBC Three’s recent documentary on asexuality (which I feature in!) is one of the first representations of asexual people on British television but unfortunately the final edit does little to challenge these stereotypes. This lack of accurate representation means the validity of asexuality can often be challenged, resulting in discrimination and hate crimes. However, due to a similar lack of representation in the law, asexual people do not currently have the same legal protections that people of other sexual orientations benefit from.

So how can you be an ally to asexual people? Use ‘LGBT+’ as an acronym consistently – interchangeably using acronyms such as ‘LGBT’ and ‘LGBT+’ contributes to the erasure of asexuals (as well as others who identify in the ‘+’). Also, find out more about asexuality – a useful place to start is the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.


Matt Humberstone

Student Development Coordinator, Bristol SU


University of Bristol Rainbow Lanyards

You may have noticed many students and staff around the university wearing rainbow-coloured University of Bristol lanyards to hold their UCards. You may be sporting one yourself! The rainbow lanyard reflects the same colours of the Pride Flag recognised internationally as a symbol of pride and affirmation for people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender+ (LGBT+). Last year the rainbow flag was prominent across the media and at memorial services around the world in solidarity for the 49 people who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting in a gay night club.

US gay activist Gilbert Baker is credited with creating this political symbol in the late 1970s to represent what was then described as ‘gay freedom’ – ‘an insignia of pride capable of affirming social independence.’  Baker’s original flag consisted of eight different colours which each held their own meaning before being whittled down to six – you can read more about the history and origins of the rainbow flag here.

While the colours may have changed over time and the people it represents expanded, the rainbow lanyard at University of Bristol remains a symbol of affirmation and pride for the sexual and gender diversity of its staff and students and a reminder of the individual worth, value and equality of each person who belongs to the university, inclusive of students and staff who identify as LGBT+. It also serves as a reminder to those outside the university community that the diversity of its staff can only be an asset and something to be recognised and celebrated.

Bisexual Visibility Day – 23rd September

Sunday 23rd September will mark this year’s bisexual visibility day. The aim of bi visibility day is to raise awareness of the issues faced by bisexual people, and to raise awareness of our existence more generally. Bisexual people face erasure in society, in the media and in our personal lives. Bisexual peopel are often perceived as ‘really straight’ if with someone of a different gender, and ‘really gay’ if with someone of the same gender. We can face homophobia from the straight world and biphobia from the gay world – where there is sometimes pressure to ‘pick a side’

Bisexual people also face unique oppressions,. Bisexual men and women are more likely to experience domestic violence than their gay or straight counterparts. In the 2010 US National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 61% of bisexual women reported experiencing intimate partner violence, compared to 44% of lesbian women and 35% of straight women. 37% of bisexual men had also experienced this violence, compared to 26% of gay men and 29% of heterosexual men. Heron Greenesmith, of the Movement Advancement Project, suggests this may leave them at a higher risk of domestic violence (Outfront, 2017). Such findings highlight the importance of the work done by charities like Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity.

Our invisibility extends into popular culture. Bisexual characters in film, TV and literature are few and far between. Bisexual actors such as Alan Cumming are frequently mislabelled as gay. Even when bisexual characters are portrayed, the word ‘bisexual’ is often avoided at all costs, for example, in Netflix series Orange is the New Black. More recently there have been more positive portrayals of bisexuality, such as Rosa Diaz’s proclamation “I’m bi” in Brooklyn Nine Nine and Darryl Whitefeather’s coming out song ‘Getting Bi’ in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate  Behaviour was also refreshing in its portrayal of a bisexual character.

Want to support bisexual visibility day? Think about printing a bi flag for your window/desk this week, sending an email round to your colleagues highlighting the day or sharing something on social media.

Alice Phillips,

Bisexual Rep, LGBT+ Staff Network and LGBT+ Officer, University of Bristol Unison Branch


Do you identify as LGBT+ and work at the University? We’d love to have you as part of our network!