Equalities & Diversity Blog
May 17 2013
Sir Stephen Wall, UCL Chair of Council, reflects on International Day Against Homophobia:
'IDAHO , famous for potatoes'. That, until a year ago, was as much as I knew: a thirty old recollection of an American car number plate.
IDAHO, as in International Day against Homophobia, sprang off the internet into my consciousness a year ago: an international day, marked by as many of us as possible in as many countries as possible. And, of course, our minds turn to people such as Bisi Alimi and John Bosco Nyombi, from Nigeria and Uganda respectively, who have both spoken at U C L in the last year: refugees because of their sexuality, brothers of ours who cannot, except in peril of their lives, return to their own countries.
But what about closer to home? I am not the most representative person to talk about coming out, having taken 40 years to pluck up the courage to do just that. But the discussions we have in the LGBT+ staff group, and the experiences of colleagues, suggest that being out as a gay or lesbian man or woman is still not straightforward. If I was 18 today, roughly the age when I knew that I was physically attracted to my own sex, there would be huge advances in law and attitudes to empower me. But what if I heard, as we have, the Anglican Archbishop of York compare the Government's same sex Marriage Bill to the actions of the worst dictators? Or the Archbishop of Lyon liken homosexuality to incest and, by implication, incite the faithful to violence against it? That would - does - make me feel that, even now, my sexuality can be distorted to confine, as well as define, me.
For me, UCL has been the open space I could come out into. Do we yet have a space wide enough to allow us all to spread our wings?
|Last updated: 17th May 2013|