UCL News


LGBT+ History Month at UCL

1 February 2023

UCL is marking LGBT+ History Month 2023 with a month-long programme of events and activities. Read on for a round-up of upcoming events, plus key resources and recordings.

The pride flag on the UCL portico building

A foreword from Noël Caliste, LGBTQ+ Envoy, Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group and Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Implementation Group, and Seyi Osi, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Students' Union UCL

LGBT+ History Month is a time to reflect on the culture and contributions of queer people.

UCL was built on the principle of being radically inclusive and progressive, welcoming students of any race, class, or religion. It was also the first university to admit women on equal terms with men.

In a time when many people feel that LGBTQ+ equality has ‘gone too far’ and that progress has long passed its appropriate endpoint, it’s important to remember that being boldly inclusive, especially towards society’s most marginalised groups, is central to UCL’s ethos. The university’s spiritual founder, Jeremy Bentham, was no stranger to this ethos and even advocated for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in the late 1700s.

While progress for LGBTQ+ people has come a long way since UCL’s inception, many members of our community, particularly those who are transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming still face disproportionate levels of discrimination and violence.

The reality is: transgender and gender non-conforming people have existed for hundreds (if not thousands) of years all over the world, from sitting within elite households in pre-colonial India to standing up at the Stonewall Riots of 1969, however despite their longstanding history and their pivotal role in the modern gay rights movement, trans people who are seeking to live their lives authentically and peacefully are continuously targeted and made into the subject of debate.

Trans people make up an estimated 0.5% of the UK population, making them a vulnerable minority and instead of offering compassionate understanding and genuine interest in their wellbeing, the media (in particular) vilifies them and depicts them as a danger, despite statistics showing that trans people are far more likely to suffer violence than inflict it.

We only need to look at how Scotland’s recent Gender Recognition Bill (which sought to alleviate some of the hefty administrative burden of transitioning gender) was vetoed and then lambasted by the media to understand how hostile the environment is for trans people at the moment.

Now more than ever, it’s vital that everyone, LGBTQ+ or ally, supports the most vulnerable members of the community. History months are a good starting point for reflection; however, inclusion needs to go beyond the month of February. If you’re keen to learn more about being an affective ally all year round please take the time to up on issues affecting queer people, engage with content written from the perspective of trans people and look into ways of how you can make your work / place of study more inclusive.

UCL’s LGBTQ+ Equality Implementation Group (LEIG) is currently working on a comprehensive action plan to improve the experience of queer staff and students across the university. If you want to learn more about LEIG’s work, information and minutes from meetings are publicly available on the LEIG webpage.

While the road to progress can be challenging, there is a strong community of LGBTQ+ staff, students, and allies at UCL who are supportive and committed to liberation. To stay up-to-date with LGBTQ+ news and social events, please do feel free to join our staff network, Out@UCL. You can also view UCL’s support for students as well as information for LGTBQ+ allies.

Noël Caliste – Deputy Director of Operations at The Bartlett; LGBTQ+ Envoy; Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group and Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Implementation Group

Seyi Osi – Equity and Inclusion Officer, Students' Union UCL

LGBT+ History Month, marked annually every February, is a month-long celebration of LGBT+ culture, lives and history and an opportunity to commemorate and reflect on the achievements and contributions of LGBT+ people and their lived experiences. 

This year’s theme is #BehindTheLens, and aims to highlight the contributions of LGBT+ people to cinema and film – including screen writers, directors, producers, make-up artists and musicians – from behind the lens. 

A range of events and activities will be taking place at UCL throughout February and beyond to mark the month. Please see below for our current list of scheduled events, as well as key resources and UCL networks. 


26 January – [ONLINE/FOR ALL]: Policy & Practice: Challenges Faced by LGBTIQ+ Migrants and Asylum Seekers

You can view the recording of this event on the Department of Political Science YouTube channel.

Throughout February – [ONLINE AND IN PERSON/FOR STUDENTS] Students' Union UCL's LGBT+ History Month Programme

Students' Union UCL are hosting a range of activities throughout the month, from drop-ins to seminars and a book club – there’s something for everyone to get involved with! Find out more on the Students' Union UCL website.

4 February – [IN PERSON/FOR STAFF AND STUDENTS]: Conference: We are the feminisms in the lecture theatres (and in the streets) | BOOK NOW

The Centre for Gender Studies (SOAS) presents this conference, bringing perspectives together that see feminisms as plural and intersectional and understand fighting misogyny as interconnected with fighting lesbo- and queerphobia, transphobia, racism, border regimes, Islamophobia and classism.

6 February – [IN PERSON/FOR ALL]: UCL History Department LGBT+ Network present: Emerging Research in Modern LGBTQ+ Histories | No need to book!

Join us in the Haldane Room (Wilkins Building) on Monday 6 February, 5pm-6.30pm.

7 February – [ONLINE/FOR STUDENTS]: Spotlight on Inclusion: LGBTQ+ careers panel | BOOK NOW

Hear LGBTQ+ professionals from Ocado, the Aston Martin Formula One Team, Dyson and more chat about their career paths and LGBTQ+ identity in the workplace. Part of the London Russell Group universities' Spotlight On Inclusion events series, this panel event will be hosted online. 

8 February – [ONLINE/FOR ALL]: Unmaking Sex: The Gender Outlaws of Nineteenth-Century France | BOOK NOW

Join Anne Linton – Associate Professor of French at San Francisco State University – for a talk on her recent book, Unmaking Sex: The Gender Outlaws of Nineteenth-Century France – the first of its kind to examine intersex in both medicine and literature.  

9 February – [IN PERSON/FOR ALL]: LGBT+ History Month Film Screening of: Milk (2008) | BOOK NOW

The biopic of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. Join us at the Ear Institute, 4–6.30pm.

15 February – [IN PERSON/FOR ALL]: LGBT+ History Month Film Screening of: Carol (2015) | BOOK NOW

Carol tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce.

20 February – [ONLINE/FOR ALL]: Queering Language in the Polish vs English Contexts | BOOK NOW

When did speech become the subject of gendered analysis in Poland and the UK? And is it possible to eradicate linguistic sexism? Join SSEES for this talk and Q+A session on the development of queer linguistic discourses.

22 February – [ONLINE/FOR ALL]: Inclusive Spaces: LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories | BOOK NOW

Brought to you by the Bartlett Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group and the editors of ‘Queer Spaces’, this virtual event explores the past and present life of LGBTQIA+ spaces around the world – and their worthy place in history. 

22 February – [ONLINE/FOR LGBTQ+ STUDENTS]: Wellbeing workshop for LGBTQ+ Students | BOOK NOW

Student Support and Wellbeing have partnered with the Step-Up Universities Projectto give LGBTQ+ students a chance to reflect together, share practical resources and gain some new tools and resources to support their wellbeing. This workshop is exclusively for LGBTQ+ students and is delivered by trained LGBTQ+ student facilitators.

23 February – [IN PERSON/FOR ALL]: LGBT+ History Month Film Screening of: Swan Song (2021) | BOOK NOW

This heart-warming film, starring Udo Kier and Jennifer Coolidge, follows retired hairdresser Pat Pitsenbarger – once renowned as the "Liberace of Sandusky" – as he takes a long walk to style his former client's hair for her funeral. 

24 February – [IN PERSON/FOR ALL]: LGBT+ History Month 2023 Lecture: Antinous – Last God of the Ancient World | BOOK NOW

Drawing upon archaeological and textual sources, this lavishly illustrated lecture will consider Antinous' religious and artistic legacy and his continuing influence in the modern world as the inspiration of artists, writers, and film-makers.

25 February – [IN PERSON/FOR STUDENTS IN HALLS]: An LGBTQ+ Museum Visit with UCL Accommodation | BOOK NOW

Step back in time for a journey through history at Queer Britain, the UK’s first permanent LGBTQ+ museum and The British Museum. Along the way, you'll also stop over at the legendary Gay’s the Word bookstore.

1 March –18 August 2023 – [IN PERSON/FOR ALL]: Blueprints of Hope: Celebrating LGBTQ+ London | BOOK NOW

A free exhibition in UCL's Octagon Gallery celebrating London's queer cityscape, curated by London-based collective Gedney Common in response to research by UCL Urban Laboratory (Urban Lab) evidencing a drop of 58% in London's LGBTQ+ venues between 2006 and 2017.

8 March – [IN PERSON/FOR STAFF AND STUDENTS]: The Making of Queer Zoology | BOOK NOW

To mark LGBTQ+ History Month – in March though – the LGBTQ+ STEM Network has invited historian Dr Ross Brooks to talk about the making of Queer Zoology, followed by drinks.

9 March – [IN PERSON/FOR STAFF AND STUDENTS]: LGBTQ+ History Month: Imagining a Queer Utopia in Higher Education and beyond | BOOK NOW

A panel discussion jointly hosted by UCL and City University. Staff and students from City, University of London and UCL will share their experience and ideas for a queer utopia in higher education and beyond.

15 March – [IN PERSON/FOR STAFF AND STUDENTS]: Inclusive Spaces: Trans Visibility and the City | BOOK NOW

This online event – part of the Bartlett’s Inclusive Spaces series – explores trans people’s experiences of in/visibility in urban spaces and city life, and the contradictions that can make them simultaneously hyper-visible and hyper-vulnerable. 

Podcasts, recordings and resources

Books to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month 2023 | FIND OUT MORE

We asked members of the UCL community to recommend books to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month.

Nick and coming out as gay | LISTEN HERE

In this third episode of the UCL Remarkable Stories podcast series, Nick Coveney – a publisher and UCL alumnus – shares his personal experiences of coming out as gay and growing up as someone in the LGBTQ+ community. 

London's Queer Infrastructure | LISTEN HERE 

How have movements for LGBTQ+ rights and equality connected with the governance of cities? And how do they, and the venues and neighbourhoods they identify with, feature in urban planning and development? Stream this Lunch hour Lecture to find out more.  

LGBTQ+ Histories at UCL | LISTEN HERE 

Featuring UCL academics Bob Mill and Alex Parsons, plus London South Bank University Emeritus Professor Jeffrey Weeks, this podcast episode explores UCL’s rich and varied LGBTQ+ histories – including some of its celebrated alumni. 

An interview with London Night Czar Amy Lamé | WATCH HERE

Watch Professor Ben Campkin’s chat with Amy Lamé on her experience co-running Duckie – an LGBTQ+ club night and social enterprise – for 25 years, and the connections between migration, night spaces and LGBTQ+ communities. 

This webpage will be updated with additional events as they are announced – please do check back! If you are hosting a UCL event for LGBT+ History Month that you’d like included in this article, get in touch with us here.  

More information