'I don’t think of my sexuality as a defining characteristic, same as my gender or age; it’s not the first thing that springs to mind when I introduce myself! I identify as bisexual, and will always make that clear if asked and when appropriate in any setting: challenging peoples assumptions is important to me. In my role as Director of Equality I have, over the last year, made an open statement to all the staff and student groups I have talked to. I feel I have a responsibility to ‘disclose’ as part of a vision for changing our culture, and respecting and valuing difference and diversity at Aberystwyth University. I’d encourage everyone to be open about themselves, the University provides a welcoming environment and there is a lot of support around, especially in the LGBT*Q Network groups, but respect people’s choice. That goes for other Equality & Diversity characteristics as well – for example, caring responsibilites or, in my case, a disability which limits some aspects of work. We are all multi-faceted people. (Dr Debra Croft, Director of Equality, Centre for Widening Participation, Equality and Social Inclusion, Aberystwyth University)'
'I never found my sexuality a barrier whilst working at Aberystwyth University. In the past, at other workplaces, I always tried to avoid coming out to my colleagues, saying things like 'my partner' and using the gender neutral pronoun 'they'. After a short time working at Aberystwyth I found a feeling of belonging and I finally felt comfortable to be honest about my sexuality. I think the reason for this is that I had other openly out colleagues in my department who were great role models and made me feel like I had no reason not to be myself. I would encourage everyone to be themselves and if you haven't come out, then try it. It's extremely liberating and there's a great community to be a part of through the LGBT network.'
'I’m incredibly lucky to be in the working environment I am in as I have support from not only my department and colleagues but also the university as a whole; I never feel that being a young gay woman has ever affected my work. I am an active member of the LGBT network group, and in fact, met my girlfriend there at the first event I attended, 3 years later we are engaged, so I can-not advocate the LGBT network events enough! The LGBT network has made me feel part of a strong community that I know is there if ever needed and I have created networks with fantastic colleagues around the university and by doing so it has most definitely helped my career progression.'
'I don't think that being trans anywhere is particularly easy. Transphobia very much still exists, not only within individuals, but within systems in society and even laws. But the people you surround yourself with can make a world of difference. In Aberystwyth I have been very fortunate to have many friends and colleagues who have not only been supportive, but also a pleasure to be with. Problems still arise from time to time, but when its an ignorant statement from an individual they are either very much in the minority, or they change their mind once they learn more. Students and staff come hear from all kinda of backgrounds, so to some degree some of these issues are inevitable, but in general people tend to learn over time and come more tolerant. I have also been quite fortunate that when an issue has been of a systemic nature, people are often willing to examine the issue and eager to fix things once they know it is a problem. Aberystwyth, like most places at the moment, is in a period of improvement when it comes to trans inclusivity, but we are fortunate to have people who genuinely care and are passionate about improving things.'
'The reasons to choose to study at Aberystwyth University are endless & they certainly were for me. What really sealed the deal in my choice was that it was 200+ miles from the people I knew who used the word 'gay' as an insult.
Aberystwyth was the first place I was able to explore myself. The safe haven allowed me to learn who I was & who I loved. It was a breath of fresh air for me. There was representation everywhere I looked & immediately I was home.
There were openly gay women throughout campus in all capacities. Lecturers, students, teammates, bar staff - they were everywhere!
Without the support of the University allowing for that representation I would never have learnt that it was okay to be myself & be safe to explore what it all meant.
After graduating from my beloved Aber, I came out to my friends and family back home with all the confidence I'd managed to muster up during my 3 years in Aberystwyth! I'm happy to say that I have now been out and proud for 6 years & haven't looked back.
Aberystwyth will always hold a special place in my heart for so many reasons, but first and foremost because it gave me a safe place to come out and be myself.'
'I moved to Aberystwyth University in 2007 from Loughborough University, where I was Chair of the Staff LGBT Group, and it was nice to feel confident starting my new role in a new and being open about my sexuality as a gay man. There was not a support network as such when I started at Aber, but the University and the town are have a very inclusive and bohemian style and I have never experienced any prejudice living and working here. It is very much a ‘who you are’ culture as opposed to ‘what you are’. In the 10 years I have been here, I have been promoted four times and now hold a senior position in the University. I’m very proud of the collegiate, supportive, developmental and equality culture I have created in my team, and as an advocate of the #HeforShe campaign, I actively support the development and promotion of women within my team and the University, and support attendance at schemes such as Spring Board and Aurora.
In more recent year’s an LGBT network has been established at the University, the town has hosted Aber Pride supported by the University, and most recently an Enfys Allies Network, which enables me and University colleagues being a visible contact for LGBT staff, and involves being willing to help from time to time with specific LGBT engagement activities and events.' (Gary Reed, Director of Research, Business & Innovation)
'I have found Aberystwyth University to be the most welcoming place. I've never felt uncomfortable or restricted to be anything other than who I am. I can speak openly about my life without any judgement. I am part of the LGBT network and know about all of the mechanisms in place to report any issues, but I've never had the need to. I've also been able to attend Stonewall training provided by the University, which gave me the confidence not only to be proud of who I am, but to be able to support others.'
Hi, I'm Tom; I'm 27 years old and now live permanently in Aberystwyth after attending university here. I moved to Aberystwyth in 2008 to study Drama & Theatre, like most I came to university 'straight' from school not really having a strong sense of identity. During my years as a student I was always openly gay, and never encountered any hostility from students of locals. Aberystwyth was always a place where I learnt to be myself, not having to put on a facade; I was able to be/act/dress however I wanted.
Compared to my hometown on the outskirts of London, Aberystwyth was this amazing place of acceptance. It has this sense of community that you can't help but get surrounded by. People here don't care about how you identify, and you can express yourself however you want without fear of judgement or persecution. I personally never actively involved myself with AberPride (the LGBT+ society), not to stereotype but being a drama student I was never more than a stone's throw away from another LGBT+ person anyway. However it was nice knowing that the society existed within the university, if I ever needed it.
In 2013 at the age of 23, I was diagnosed with HIV, I really struggled coming to terms with my diagnosis and my mental health deteriorated. I found myself in a dark place unable to get to grips with what I'd felt like I had brought on myself. Being in such a small community I felt like everyone was going to find out this 'dirty' secret, this terrified me. I turned to my friends in Aberystwyth who were/are incredible; they showed me such compassion and truly looked after me.
On World AIDS day 2015, I came out publicly on social media to my friends and family about being HIV+. I never expected such an overwhelming responce. Living an an openly HIV+ gay ma in a small rural Welsh town you'd think would be very isolating. Aberystwyth proved itself to be the opposite; I never thought so many people would accept me so wholeheartedly. People I barely know contacting me with words of love and support, something that I think is so unique to Aberystwyth. This microcosm that I live in is a truly remarkable place, which allows you to express yourself so beautifully as an LGBT+ person. It's an absolute gem.
Bisi Alimi is an “Angelic Troublemaker Incarnate”- PASSIONATE and ENERGETIC public speaker, storyteller, television pundit, campaigner, actor and Vloggers.
His expertise on Social Justice ranges from Sexual Orientationand Gender Identity to Race and Race Relations, Feminism, Education and Poverty Alleviation. He has done a lot of work around “Intersexuality” and currently on a global Intersectionality tour.
He has written many controversial opinion pieces including; “Men cant be Feminist”, “I am no longer talking to Black Africans about Race”, “Why It’s So Dangerous To Pretend That Racism Doesn’t Exist” and many others. “The Development Cost of Homophobia” is his most successful article that was translated into over 15 languages globally. Finally, His article for the Guardian: “If you say being gay is not African, you don’t know your history” has gone on to great review and cited in many news articles and journals globally.
In 2004, he came out as gay on national television in Nigeria making him the first ever Nigeria LGBT person to do so.
Bisi Alimi was a visiting lecturer to both Freie University and Humboldt University both in Berlin where he was teaching “Pre and Post Colonial Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa”
He also serves on the board of Stonewall Housing, AllOut and None On Record.
His TEDx talk, “There should never be another Ibrahim” has been listed as one of the 14 most inspiring QUEER TEDtalk of all time. Alimi gave the closing speech at the Daily Beast event hosted at the New York Public Library titled, “I am Bisi Alimi and I am not a victim.”
He is currently working on his memoir “The Boy from Mushin” with a full length film launching next year.
He consulted for World Bank on Economic impact of Homophobia and served on the Bank advisory board on SOGI. He is a fellow of Salzburg Global LGBT Forum and New Voices at the Aspen Institute.
He was second runner-up for Campaigner of the Year at the European Diversity Award 2016, a shortlist for Diversity Role Model- LGBT for the National Diversity awards in 2015 and 2017 and a shortlist for Roberta Cowell Gay Times Honour.
Listed 19 most important LGBT person in UK 2015 and was number 68 on the World Pride Power List 2017.
He is the founder and Director of Bisi Alimi Foundation. In 2005, he founded The Initiative for Equal Rights and in 2012, was a founding member of Kaleidoscope Trust in the UK.
He lives in London with his husband.