How to celebrate LGBT+ History Month meaningfully in your workplace


For LGBT+ History Month, Lisa Brinicombe, EDI Advisor at UoG interviewed Ros Jennings, Professor of Ageing, Culture and Media at the University of Gloucestershire, on the meaningful ways in which the month could be celebrated across the University. Read on for ideas, inspiration and perspectives.

Lisa: Hi Ros, thank you for agreeing to talk to me during LGBT+ History Month. Can you tells us a bit about yourself and your background and what you are currently working on at UoG.

Ros: My background as a musician involved in peace building, feminist, queer, and lesbian and gay activism has provided the platform for my career in Higher Education as an educator, researcher and latterly, Professor. At UoG, I have found the space to teach, research and supervise doctoral research related to culture, ageing and complex intersectional identities with the aim of changing minds, assumptions and attitudes. I have also tried to model these ideals in my leadership roles. Now working part-time mentoring and supervising research across three Schools in the University, I am also a full-time carer for my wife who has a range of chronic health conditions. We are looking forward to celebrating our 40th anniversary in July this year.

Lisa: Congratulations! that is inspiring to hear. Can you tell us the most meaningful experience you’ve had at work during LGBT+ month?

Ros: Being presented with a Staff WOW award for outstanding customer experience last week was pretty special I must admit!

Lisa: How can people who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community be allies not just within the month but all year round?

Ros: Encourage and model inclusive language and behaviours. Be a visible and compassionate presence in the institution. Changing attitudes is usually a marathon and not a sprint, so keep turning up and be present.

Lisa: What practical things can organisations do to meaningfully support employees within the LGBTQ+ community?

Ros: Leadership at all levels that models respect, compassion and fosters an ethos and atmosphere of safety and inclusion of ideas and approaches as well as people has to be the starting place. From an organisational aspect, an inclusive environment founded on respect makes for happier staff and students and consequently a more productive environment. Don’t just relay the message…be the message!

Lisa: Who is your LGBTQ+ month icon this year bearing in mind the theme of this year’s LGBT History Month?

Ros: As someone who has published on queer music and identities, the band “Boygenius” have been a wonderful thing to having such a success at this year’s Grammys this month. Not only will their song Not Strong Enough become a queer classic the band’s outspoken stand against the targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ people in some states in the US is something to admire and support.

Lisa: How important is having and intersectional lens in this area to ensure that the uniqueness of every individual in this community is respected and celebrated at work?

Ros: People are complicated and complex. We bring our past with us in the present and take these with us into the future ( a nod here to my research on time, space and memory work). Intersectionality is the synthesis of our many belongings, identities and what makes us unique and we need to cultivate awareness of this rather than fall back on assumptions and limited understanding of people’s identities. Always think multiple, fluid and complex rather than a short-hand label.

Lisa: What advice would you give to people who have the passion to be an ally but are worried about terminology, knowing everything and offending others?

Ros: Be led by kindness, compassion and respect for others and yourselves. These are signs of strength that are invaluable in making a difference. If you lead with these values you will find a way to be curious and supportive. We are stronger together so please become the ally that reflects the spirit of love, acceptance and equality you wish to bring to support people’s diverse experiences and identities.

Lisa: We have an Allyship Scheme here at UOG and we encourage staff to sign up to our Allyship Pledge and be visible by wearing our Allyship lanyards. Do you have any top tips for UOG  Allies?

Ros: Being a visible ally and being visible by wearing the lanyard helps set an atmosphere of support and respect for LGBTQ+ members of the University community. On difficult days they can just make me dig a little deeper and find a little more energy. Be approachable, to any questions about why supporting LGBTQ+ members of the University community is not only vital to supporting the wellbeing of those who claim theses identities but underpins the wellbeing of us all in an institution. Small acts of bravery, kindness as allies are an important way to bring about the equality, diversity and inclusion of opportunity and experience that we should all aspire to.

If you would like to sign up to the University’s Staff Allyship Pledge Scheme please follow this Link to the EDI HUB.