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Going Beyond Blog of Learning Opportunities

This blog is a place to share the learning opportunities through Going Beyond, our Communities of Practice education programme.  You can request to join a Community of Practice here:

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  • Pride in Action

    Author: Gareth TheobaldPosted: 17 June 2021

    It's June, and we are halfway through pride month, and just like clockwork, we see swaths of social media content from many companies that have adorned their online presence with rainbows and slogans such as "Love Is Love" and “Be Yourself”. However, as the star of “It’s a sin” and “Year & Years’ frontman Olly Alexander pointed out in 2019 simply re-doing your logo in a rainbow and “donating a portion of proceeds” is not enough. We need to see companies in 2021 doing more pride campaigns that acknowledge the lived experience of queer people over the past year. 

    The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on LGBTQ+ people has shone a light on the importance of physical and mental health in our community. Overall, queer people are twice as likely to have a mental health condition compared to the heterosexual population, and COVID-19 has put LGBTQ+ youth especially at risk of suicide. 


    So this year, any attempt at “Rainbow Washing” simply won’t wash! Call it what you will; it all allows people, governments, and corporations that don’t do actual work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship. 2021 sees the likes of Converse, Dr. Martens, Adidas, Ugg, Disney, Levi’s and Calvin Klein all release collections for Pride.


    As the general support for LGBTQ+ rights grows, so does the corporate incentive for brands and companies to position themselves in sync with that growing sentiment. But in that commercialisation lies the disconnect. Brands promoting gay pride and the LGBTQ+ community may not always be consistent in actually supporting our community, but they still capitalise on the help that people want to give. It brings into question what Pride Month means, where it came from, and what we really commemorate when we celebrate it. 


    Pride month in the Covid-19 era should be highlighting the fact that the past year has been a time when many are being disproportionately affected. We need brands to step up and call out, transphobia in our media, the LGBTQ+ Mental health crisis, the plight of Queer refugees, and promote awareness of intersectionality, so we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us. Companies need to swap tokenism for authenticity. 


    • In 2020, 350 transgender people were killed worldwide.

    • Being gay is illegal in 71 countries.

    In 11 countries, you can be punished by death.

    52 per cent of the LGBTQ+ community in England, Scotland and Wales say they experienced depression in the last year, according to a Stonewall/YouGov report.

    In the same study, 72 per cent of Bi women said they had experienced anxiety in the last year.

    One in five LGBTQ+ people had experienced homelessness.

    Taking on the above is “Pride in Action” what’s yours? 

    Join the TSSA LGBT+ & Ally Network 


    Read more:




    Pride rainbow merchandise is everywhere, but who gets the pot of gold?



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  • Our LGBT+ History

    Author: Gareth TheobaldPosted: 10 February 2021

    LGBT+ Campaigner and Activist Dan Glass who will be joining the upcoming TSSA "Our LGBT+ History" event, talks us through some of the defining moments in LGBT history. Click the Read More tab below to find out what he has to say.

    It’s an honour to be collaborating with TSSA to celebrate Queer history, freedom and power for LGBT+ History Month 2021. We are living in wild times and learning from our radical history to provide energy to keep struggling for justice is more important than ever. That is why I am so glad to be part of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and to share their powers with TSSA and its members as we commemorate the important milestones that we have today; 50 years of their foundings in 2020, that led to the 50th anniversary of the first LGBT+ demonstrations in Britain at the end of last year and fifty years of the start of Pride in 2022.  


    On Friday 4th December 2020 we celebrated the demonstration led by the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) against unjust laws and police misconduct that took place in Highbury Fields to commemorate the richness of our beautiful LGBT+ history, agitate for more queer anger and celebration, and to highlight the ongoing struggle for total freedom for all! We re-imagined the torchlight protest that took place 50 years ago which was organised in solidarity with Louis Eaks, chair of the Young Liberals, who was arrested for ‘importuning for an immoral purpose’ – cruising, to you and me. 


    This was a commemoration of sexual freedom, in celebration of those who were there, and the next generation of young activists responding to the intersectional challenges faced by queer people today. LGBT+ hate crimes and injustice are on the rise all over the world, and we won’t stand for it.

    Alongside connecting with GLF legends like Julian Hows whose iconic protest at Earls Court station captured the public imagination I’ve been lucky to have Stuart Feather, a founding member of the GLF and author of ‘Blowing the Lid- Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens’,  as a close friend and comrade over the last five years.

    ‘Where did it all begin?’ I ask, eager to learn how such a fire was started. 


    ‘The roots of GLF started in Paris at the University of Nanterre where the students demanded an end to gender segregation in dormitories. This eventually led to May 1968 in Paris and all the arrondissements which moved on to San Francisco and it became the birth of the ‘Women’s Liberation Movement’. 1969 was Stonewall which was the model of a fightback by homosexuals, unheard of, you couldn’t have even dreamt the idea up. Today there’s not a country in the world that isn’t aware of gay people and lesbians, whatever attitude but it’s there and there to fight for. So I was swept up in that, yes, and delighted to have done so because it opened my mind to what was going on in the world.’ 


    Two years later, in 1972, the first-ever Pride march was held by the GLF, a socialist-oriented ecosystem of criminals, deviants and revolutionaries. Leading the charge was the GLF working group of under 21s to confront the partiality of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. The supposed liberating legislation still criminalised a huge swathe of the queer population, anyone under 21s and anyone older than 21 who had sex with them like those still punished by the unequal age of consent for homosexuals.


    Iconic GLF slogans on badges and literature were touted and used as a hilarious comeback as a form of identification amongst the queer community, such as ‘Hello I’m gay, can I help you?’, ‘How dare you presume I’m heterosexual’ and ‘We are the people your parents warned you about.’ 


    Radical, antagonistic and grounded in real policy change this was a far cry from the Barclays sponsoring, M&S sandwich saturated militarised Pride scene that we have today. In order to extract capital from gays and lesbians the commercialisation of LGBTQI+ culture hadn’t yet distinguished between the palatable types of sexual difference, the ‘straight gays’ as Stuart defines them, and the queer militants and dissidents not wanting their culture to be bought off. Here, the privileging of hetronormative ideals, of marriage, monogamy and ‘keeping up with the neighbours’ brings the concept of ‘homonormativity’ to life, and the GLF didn’t want to be part of it. Even though the GLF demanded a world where we would be a ‘Queer Nation’ half a century on LGBTQIA+ inequality is still rife. Complete LGBTQIA+ liberation is part of a matrix, for housing rights, universal healthcare, economic freedom and so complete liberation will not be met without state resistance. However, the GLF teaches us to have hope.


    Hope in turn generates a mentality of fearlessness against personal and political limitations. Years of negative isolation, oppression and poor mental health caused by systemic inequality which, if left unattended, then results in what post-colonial political philosopher Franz Fanon calls 'colonisation of the soul' as marginalised peoples fundamental needs continue to be ignored because of their refusal, or inability to be conditioned.


    Queer culture - at its most raw - is the profound experience of being queer and alive in a world set against us. Our queer ancestors, radical or not, remind us to pierce through the fog of collective amnesia that has been structurally utilised to manipulate us into inaction and remind us how much we still have to fight for and never to be pacified.  The 50th anniversaries since Stonewall uprisings in 1969,  the Gay Liberation Front in 1970 and the first Pride protest in 1972 are great moments to celebrate progress. However, rather than a linear, forward movement, this ‘progress’ often tends to look like two ships sailing in opposite directions. 


    The corporate-funded militarised ‘Pride in London’ boat sails into the sunset with a tiny section of our community. On the other ship, ‘SOS - None of us are free until we all are’ (everyone else, including Pride’s founders) struggle to get a life-ring thrown overboard. 


    The critical moment that led to this was in 2004 when Pride went from a ‘Protest’ to a ‘Parade’, costing £100,000 extra each year to hold and infrastructurally becoming a ‘CIC.’ That is, a company with an interest in monetising a particular section of the community and abandoning the rest. Today, the capital still has no permanent queer museum, community centre or arts centre, AIDs memorial or comprehensive LGBTQIA+ housing programme. Without grassroots projects intervening in the status quo, like ‘The Outside Project’ who have reclaimed an abandoned fire station in North London to support the growing LGBTQIA+ homeless whilst holding exhibitions, workshops, cabarets and skillshares as well as intersectional and radical trade union solidarity organising like that is captured in the film ‘Pride’, our queer story is in danger of being forgotten. 


    Let us always remember the rallying cry of ‘Absolute Freedom for All’ and struggle onwards together! 

    In solidarty 



    Please make sure you join Dan and the TSSA team on the 22nd February for Our LGBT+ History - Education Events 


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  • "It's been a journey "

    Author: Gareth TheobaldPosted: 16 November 2020

    As part of Trans Awarenes Week 2020 TSSA Member Cathy has shared her personal story about being a Trans Ally. My name is Cathy, and I’d like to share a personal story with you about how I’ve been able to be an Ally in my personal life and how I believe I’ve been able to translate that experience into being a better Ally at work. Click Read More to continue reading

    I am the proud parent of a trans child!

    In the early 90’s I gave birth to a boy and a girl, and more recently, I’ve ended up being a mum to 2 boys who are now 28 & 26. I’ve been on very different journeys with each of them but have ended up being very proud of them in very different ways. About eight years ago Heather, my younger child with whom I’d had always had a fractious relationship, informed me that they identified as male and that their preferred pronouns were now going to be he/him and that he was changing his name to Harry.

    I can tell you it’s not easy being the parent - or any close relative - of someone transitioning. I went through the whole range of emotions from “ yeah right, it’s a rebellion” to “Nah this is just a fad”, to “OK I’d better take this seriously”, right up to “Harry, would you please do me the honour of giving me away at my wedding ?” (yes, really).  In the early transitioning years I even went through thoughts and feelings of “what have I done wrong as a parent?” and then the whole grieving process kicked in at some point because I was having to come to terms with losing my daughter. That was the most challenging part for me, but I DID come to terms with it.

    How? easy - by telling myself that no matter what my thoughts and feelings were, my child, needed my help, love and support, and therefore that was exactly what they were going to get. I didn’t need actually to understand any of it. I’d never heard the term “gender dysphoria” – indeed hardly anyone had heard of it back then.

    The transitioning years went by, and I watched him develop, grow, and flourish as a man. I witnessed his highs and lows and his struggles and victories. I’ve seen him bullied, physically attacked and be vilified and discriminated against in several work and social settings. Still, I’ve watched him rise above it all. I’ve often wondered what it must feel like to be in a hostile and toxic work environment and I’ve had to give amateur HR advice on many more occasions than I would have liked. I’ve stood up for him, I’ve called people out on their behaviour (sometimes within our own family), I’ve educated myself on Trans matters, and I’ve generally championed his cause. In short, and quite simply, I needed to be brave and stand up for someone I care about. 

     Why? Not only is he my awesome son, but he is also a thinking, feeling, intelligent, self-aware human being with an amazing set of values which contributes to our society in some pretty unique and spectacular ways. 

    I cannot help but wonder how he must have felt being marginalised, targeted, ridiculed, and bullied in the way he has been by the organisations he has worked for. All I can say is thank goodness I am fortunate enough to work for a progressive employer. Let’s face it, in modern corporate life; you’d have had to be living under a rock if you didn’t realise that a diverse team is a stronger team as we all bring something to the table. I know I can make a difference, and I am 100% committed to doing just that both inside and outside work.

    It’s been a journey – one I’m still on - and I’m extremely proud to be a part of it.

    (and by the way, Harry is a little bit proud of me too)

    I hope from reading my story it encourages everyone to:

    ·       Take action to support under-represented groups

    ·       Learn appropriate terminology and language

    ·       Identify themselves as an ally wherever possible

    ·       Commit to learning more about the various networks



    Why not find out how you can get involved in the TSSA LGBT+ Network here and remember to sign up to the LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces CoP

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