LGBT+ Roles Models

A cohort of 19 LGBT+ staff members took part in Stonewalls Role Models Programme. The programme gives individuals the opportunity to explore what it means to be a role model and the space to identify how they can create an inclusive environment for everyone. Below are some of the Role Models.

Helen Charlesworth

I’m Helen Charlesworth, Head of Communications for Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, and also the Chair of the LGBT+ Advisory Group. Role models are important to me because I remember the few people that were openly LGBT when I first came out. It made a huge difference to see other people that were living happy and honest lives. It’s important to have openly LGBT people at the University so that colleagues can see this is a safe and welcoming environment. We know that people perform better at work when they feel happy and able to be themselves.

James Fletcher

I have always been out at work and rightfully received a warm or (even better) an indifferent response from my colleagues. Being out about my sexuality, partner, and so on has never been an issue. It is difficult to unpick whether that is a result of my own attitude, the attitudes of others, the nature of my workplace or a mixture of them all. It is clear though that, for many others, being out at work is not as easy. I believe it is the duty of those who can stand up for themselves and others, and those who can testify to the positive experiences they have had in their own workplace, should do so. That is why I joined the Stonewall Role Models programme.

Dr Clara Barker

During my youth there were few LGBT+ role models around. I certainly never met any in my school, when section 28 was in force. I assumed that it was not ok to be transgender. When I finally came out as transgender I was met with absolute acceptance. As a trans-woman, I took a position with the Department of Materials and became the vice-chair of the University’s LGBT+ Advisory Group. Outside of work, I was featured in Stonewall poster campaign and I work with Oxfordshire LGBT+ youth groups.  Which goes to show the importance of role models – be it in the work place, in schools, universities or the community at large. It is easy to say that these places accept people for who they are but it is vital to actually see that this is true.

Professor Richard B Parkinson

I think it’s important to be entirely oneself to one’s colleagues and students, without any self-censoring. Being gay for me is just a normal part of my life, and doesn’t bring with it any obligations to conform to expectations. In a university like Oxford, there are all sorts of LGBTQ people - artists, gardeners, scientists, mathematicians, and even Egyptologists.

Matt Tennant

After attending the Stonewall Role-Model training, I wanted to make sure I was happy and proud to identify as LGBTQ within the workplace. Having small things like the LGBT Network logo in my email signature or a Pride Flag postcard on my desk is a way of showing to other staff in my department that being Gay isn’t something I’m ashamed of. Being a role-model to me is also about being visible, so that other LGBTQ staff know I’m always happen to talk to them about any LGBTQ issues or promote specific events.

Hannah Boschen

I work at the Oxford Learning Institute in Professional Development. I spend my time facilitating workshops for all staff in the University primarily based around aspects of management and leadership, communication skills and personal effectiveness. I’ve seen the look of relief in people’s eyes when I’ve told them I’m part of the LGBT+ community. And I think it’s important to remind people that we exist, throughout the organisation, doing all sorts of different things. My desk is unmistakable in the office. A rainbow flag flies proudly on it, which sits next to a rainbow unicorn. A simple, yet powerful way of conveying an important message to everyone, regardless of their identity.

Emma-Ben Lewis

Emma-Ben Lewis

We all agree that 'being yourself' at work is important, but for a non-binary person like me that's easier said than done. My close colleagues are great and try to be respectful, but ultimately I am most people's first experience of meeting someone who is neither a man nor a woman. It’s tough sometimes. I joined the role models programme because I want to do better at making myself visible, and to feel less guilty when I have to tell someone 'actually, you've made a false assumption about me'. I have a lot in common with my LGB colleagues on this, although non-binary awareness and inclusion has some catching-up to do... we're working on it!