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Alexandra: “LGBT+ history month matters”

LGBT+ History Month banner
10 February 2021

“LGBT+ history month matters because it gives a sense of place; a sense of family; inclusion, belonging, a sense that you are not alone and not the only one.”

Alexandra Norrish, Senior Programme Director and LGBT+ network member at Sheffield Children’s has reflected on why LGBT+ history month is so important.

Thank you to the network and Alexandra for helping the Trust understand why LGBT+ history as well as current issues.Alexandra, brunette with glasses smiling

People sometimes ask me why LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, plus) history month matters.

“The best answer I ever found to that was while I was a volunteer tour guide for the LGBT+ history tour of London. We ran the tour every Sunday afternoon, sometimes with a group of 20 people, sometimes with just two. Theoretically we weren’t supposed to do 1:1 tours, but I always felt mean turning anyone away if they’d made the effort to turn up.

“On this particular February afternoon I was waiting by myself in the pouring rain, and about to give up when I saw a young man sprinting up the road with his suitcase bouncing along the road behind him. His name it appeared was François, he was 17, and he had just landed at Heathrow having travelled by himself from a small village in France. He was as white as a sheet and totally terrified: he had been planning this trip for months, and I was the first other gay person he had ever knowingly spoken to.

“I spent two hours walking through London with him, telling him stories: Oscar Wilde, Radclyffe Hall, the Vere Street Coterie, Quentin Crisp. I dug up all the French connections I could, including Chevalier d’Eon, who was taught how to behave as a woman by Marie Antoinette, and gave fencing lessons wearing women’s clothing in Soho Square on Tuesday afternoons. I took him to see the mosaic of Virginia Woolf in the National Gallery, and outside Downing Street we talked about Lord Rosebery, perhaps Britain’s most closeted Prime Minister, who reluctantly oversaw the Wilde trial. François listened to the whole story, and at the end of the tour he turned and said to me, ‘Je pensais que j’étais seul’. I thought that I was the only one.

“LGBT+ history month matters because it gives a sense of place; a sense of family; inclusion, belonging, a sense that you are not alone and not the only one.

“And of course LGBT+ history month is not only about history. Celebrating it in an organisation, as we are at Sheffield Children’s this month, is a fantastic moment to increase the visibility of LGBT+ issues, and the contribution that our LGBT+ colleagues make to the organisation. It is an opportunity to make connections between people, and celebrate the range of backgrounds and stories that our staff bring to the organisations. It also enables us to celebrate what the LGBT+ community has won – up until the repeal of section 28, in 2003, any of my Local Authority colleagues could have lost their jobs for writing this article – and to look at what more we need to do, for our colleagues and our patients.”

“Above all it is about creating and building community.

“The LGBT+ Network is here for our LGBT+ staff and allies. Our Rainbow Badges scheme is here to show to our patients and their families that this is a safe and supportive environment.”

Thank you Alexandra for your reflections, Sheffield Children’s is looking forward to learning more and celebrating LGBT+ history.

You can find out more about the Rainbow Badge scheme here: https://www.sheffieldchildrens.nhs.uk/news/sheffield-childrens-launches-rainbow-badge-scheme-to-support-lgbt-patients-families-and-colleagues/

For staff, anyone wanting to join the network should contact Victoria Creaser on Victoria.creaser@nhs.net.

 

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