Walking with Pride
This week the rainbow flag has flown proudly above Durham Castle, whilst a huge rainbow drape hangs in the atrium of the Palatine Building. The rainbow is the symbol of Pride, a movement that recognises and celebrates self-identity, sexual diversity and tolerance. These are values that Durham University shares, as this weekend sees the University and the City host its fourth annual Pride. The event brings together people from across lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, along with their friends, family and supporters and the wider community to celebrate who they are and raise awareness of the issues that they face.
Some may ask “Why does an event like this continue to be important?” But we need only look back over some of the events of 2017 that have made headlines to understand why. In some states of America we have seen moves to take back long fought for equal rights, whilst in Chechnya people are at risk every day simply for being who they are.
More than ever recent events have shown that we need to come together to tackle intolerance and hatred. Whilst over the last fifty years we have seen laws change to help all people to fully participate in society, or for their relationship to be recognised as having equality both legally and socially, there is still so much more to do.
Indeed, there are some areas, even within our own organisation, where people still can’t be who they really are, or don’t feel comfortable talking about what they did at the weekend. It is only by continuing to ask questions and by hearing their stories that we will understand what we can do to make a difference.
So, what has it got to do with me – a white, middle aged, middle class academic? As long as people continue to face harassment, discrimination and even violence for being who they are, I passionately believe we should do everything that we can to make this University and our City places where everyone can be safe and proud of who they are.
The new University strategy has ambitious plans to grow and diversify across the whole student body and workforce. As we do this, we must create an environment and culture where people feel able to openly be who they are. We recognise that we still have some way to go, but we are actively looking at ways in which we can identify issues and monitor change to make this a more tolerant and inclusive workplace as our University grows. We must not lose sight of the potential issues that LGBT staff may face in this changing environment. We must be a welcoming place for all; where people are safe and feel part of the wider community.
We must play an important role in communicating to other employers throughout the region and beyond that we value all of our staff as a progressive employer.
Regrettably I am not able to join in this year’s Pride procession or activities, but Professor Alan Houston our PVC for Education will be there to show the University’s support and to walk with Pride. I urge all of those who are able, to show their support in whatever way that they can.
Antony Long, Provost and DVC
Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Durham University have supported Pride from its inception and we are proud to sponsor the event again this year. Last year we saw the biggest Pride event yet with over 5000 attending. This is a free event which is supported by volunteers and charitable donations. There is now a LocalGiving page for the Durham Pride event itself. If you want to support this event you can do so by following this link: https://localgiving.org/appeal/DurhamPride2017/. The good news is that LocalGiving is set up to accept gift aid!
You can learn more about Pride here
Join us this year in whatever way you can. To celebrate Pride, Durham University will be flying Rainbow flags across its campus and our PVC (Education) will be at the front of this years' parade and representing the University as part of the welcome speeches.
International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT)
As you walk around the city you’ll notice Rainbow flags flying at University and Hatfield Colleges and a transgender flag flying on the Lower Mount Joy site. There is also a rainbow banner hanging in the Palatine Centre in recognition of IDAHOT day. They will be visible from 17 May through to 30 May inclusive.
17 May is an important date for LGBT communities; the celebration brings together millions of people from all over the World, to recognise human rights for all, including countries where same sex acts are illegal.
Durham celebrates this day with the rest of the World as a way of raising awareness and showing solidarity with the LGBT community. Durham University has an inclusive environment in which all staff and students can feel comfortable with being themselves. More than ever we need to show our support for those LGBT people who continue to face harassment, discrimination and even violence for being who they are.