Many LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, plus other marginalised sexual orientations and/or gender identities) staff and students don’t always feel supported or understood by their peers/colleagues. Historical and present day experiences of invisibility and discrimination can result in many LGBTQ+ people feeling alone with no one to turn to.
Out@UCL wish to create an inclusive environment where LGBTQ+ staff, students and visitors can be themselves, which includes feeling comfortable enough to be out. We’re doing this by asking people to become a ‘Friend’ of Out@UCL.
By becoming a friend of Out@UCL you’re agreeing to be an active ally, visibly displaying your support using our ‘Friend of Out@UCL’ stickers. Your commitment will help to make UCL a safer, more supportive place to work and study, and for this we would like to thank you.
Sign up to our allies
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Although I was ‘out’ as a gay man in my twenties to friends and colleagues, I didn’t come out to my family until my early thirties, after I’d met my long-term partner (and now husband) Chris.
This I think was an example of the effect of the powerful stigma in relation to sexuality that was present in the late eighties and early nineties, and probably internalised homophobia on my part. For many young people that stigma still remains, and I've seen evidence of this when LGBT friends have become estranged from parents and siblings unwilling to accept them.
Fortunately in my academic career as an HIV researcher I have always had LGBT colleagues and allies for whom such stigma was anathema. I feel honoured to have worked with so many amazing people who always went the extra mile to care for people living with HIV and AIDS, regardless of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and country of origin.
I’m an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign. I’ve benefited personally from the support of the LGBT community and its allies, and hope that I can contribute to the continued efforts of UCL to eradicate any remaining vestiges of stigma in relation to LGBT staff and students.
Tips on being an excellent ally
With an open mind speak with your LGBTQ+ colleagues, but be respectful if people don't want to talk about their personal experiences. You can get in touch with any of the members of the LGBTQ+ Equality Advisory Group (LEAG) if you have specific questions.
To learn more about LGBTQ+ lives, you can also consult publicly available information, including the following useful websites:
Stonewall, the UK’s leading LGBT advocacy organisation www.stonewall.org.uk
Press for Change, experts in transgender law www.pfc.org.uk
UCL’s Guidance for managers supporting Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual and Transgender Staff which is available on the UCL HR Equalities webpages
Be visible and lend an ear
Pop a sticker/poster/image on your door, laptop, email signature or wherever else takes your fancy, as long as people can see it to let people know that you’re a friend of Out@UCL. By being more visible it is more likely that a student or colleague may turn to you for support. Plan how you will respond if they do. It’s important to listen empathetically, ideally in a quiet space and in confidence.
At times it may be more appropriate to signpost people in the direction of specialist support services such as the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard who provide free & confidential support & information to lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgendered communities throughout the UK, HELPLINE: 0300 330 0630 (Daily 10am – 11pm), for students UCL Student Psychological Service and for staff UCL Occupational Health.
Don't assume you know your colleagues’ or students’ gender and/or sexual orientation. Remember, even if someone has a same-sex partner they may not identify as gay or lesbian, they might be bisexual or queer or rather not label themselves at all.
Banter or jokes about someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity can be harmful. As an ally it is important not to let others do this and get away with it. Gently but firmly let them know that it’s not OK.
Sometimes LGBTQ+ people don’t want to be the only ones calling people out, and your voice can make a powerful difference to someone else’s life. However, please do consider when it might be more appropriate to give the floor to an LGBTQ+ person to allow them to speak for themselves.
Once again thank you for giving your support. If you would like to find out more, take part in additional training or get further guidance you can contact email@example.com
Being an ally to one another as LGBTQ+ people
LGBTQ+ people have many different identities and experiences therefore the information contained in this briefing equally applies to being a strong ally to one another.
View the full list of pledges of support from UCL’s Senior Management Team