Bringing ‘home’ to Bristol…

It’s nearly the end of term – and we hope you have had a good one!

Many of you will soon be leaving Bristol to see family and friends, but when you return will it feel like you are coming home? And if you are staying in Bristol, does that mean Bristol is already home to you, or will you be wishing you were somewhere else… maybe somewhere warmer?

We asked our student champions Josh and Lottie about what they’ve done to make Bristol feel like home. For Lottie creating a playlist was the key to comfort, and for Josh it was about making his room a place to relax in.


To make my uni room feel more homely, I like to bring plenty of stuff from home to decorate with (and sometimes I go a bit overboard). I have photos plastered all over my walls (using blue tack alternatives to not stain the walls of course), and my shelves are chocked full of books, plants, and Lego.




Music really helped me transition to university at the beginning of first year. Before moving into my accommodation in September, I spent some time putting some playlists together so that I could carry a bit of home with me wherever I went.

My dad always plays music when we have a family meal together on a Saturday night and he has a very specific taste! I created a playlist with all of his favourite songs, mostly consisting of music from the 70s and 80s, and whenever I listen to it, it brings me comfort because I’m reminded of my family and all of our great memories together.

I really recommend doing this because you can listen to the playlist whenever you want: in the library, on the way to lectures or at night before bed!


Let us know what “home” means to you by sending in your pictures and stories to

In the meantime, we hope you have a happy and healthy winter break. If you’re staying in Bristol for the holidays, remember that the Residential Life team is running daily events, open to ALL students. And while the University is officially closed between Friday 23 December and Wednesday 4 January, you can still access some services if you need them. You can also request wellbeing support during this time if you need to do so.

With the very best festive wishes from the Student Comms team. We look forward to hearing from you in 2023!


What happens when you mix a CLO with an SLO?!


Izzy Russell – your Student Living Officer – recently met up with Steve Smith – your Community Liaison Officer – to talk about their objectives for 2022-23 and find out whether they have any shared goals.



Accommodation and community living

Izzy: One of the things I am asked about most is finding accommodation in Bristol that is affordable and in good condition. We are partnering with the University’s Accommodation Services and external partners such as Shelter to help with housing issues and I wondered whether you’ve also found this to be an area of concern for students?

Steve: Yes I have, and part of my role is helping students understand what is in their tenancy agreement and helping them out with any issues they have with their agency or landlord. I also work with eight local residents’ associations and they really want to welcome students into the community – all people really want is a clean street and a quiet neighbourhood! However I had 750 complaints last year and these were mostly about noise and waste, so I am working with residents’ associations, lettings agencies, landlords and students to create good relationships on all sides.

Izzy: I know a lot of students try to manage their waste properly, but they can’t because their bins get stolen!

Steve: Yes I’ve come across that. But they can order new ones on the Council’s website. If they’ve damaged the bin they will need to pay for a new one themselves – but if it’s been taken or gone missing they can get a free replacement.

Harm Reduction

Izzy: I’m really interested in continuing work on harm reduction, and making sure students are safe, even if they engage in drug use. Is that something you get involved in as part of your role?

Steve: Yes, I am particularly concerned by students who find themselves getting into financial difficulty because of the amount of money they are spending on drugs, but are feeling too awkward to talk to anyone about the situation. I’m also aware that there are people who are putting themselves into situations that make them vulnerable, for example lone females going to pick up supplies from people they don’t know in unfamiliar places. We signpost them to people who can help such as Bristol Drugs Project and Student Services.


Izzy: One of the SU Officers’ shared priorities for 2022-23 is sustainability. Are there any community schemes being run which would help us with this objective?

Steve: Definitely. Most of the residents’ associations run initiatives around gardening and litter picking – the High Kingsdown Community Association is a good example, but the others are also active and have newsletters which students can sign up to if they want to get involved. There are lots of other things going on like the Chandos Road Festival and the Window Wanderland. It’s a great way to meet your neighbours, have some fun and feel good about what you’ve achieved!

If you would like to get more involved with your local community please email

If you have questions about housing check out the SU’s My Rent, My Rights campaign headed up by Izzy.

If you need advice about your health and safety please see the range of support on offer.

Meet Jordan, undergraduate Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme

This week we catch up with Jordan, an Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme for undergraduates. Jordan is currently studying Engineering Mathematics, but has many more interests besides his degree. Read on to hear more…




Highlight of being an advocate so far:

The best part of being an advocate has to be seeing the impact we make on students, especially with the return of in-person events last year! Seeing so many people turn up to and take value from our ADHD workshop and the open Iftar, for example, were great reminders that the work we do is valued and necessary to help make students feel like they belong on campus. I’m hoping to really double down on that this year and provide more chances for students to get involved with in-person activities!

Goal for end of 2022-23:

By the end of this academic year, I would love for the BME Success Programme to have a well-defined set of digital material, from high-quality social media posts to (hopefully?) a video which highlights the work we’ve done over the years as advocates! Personally, I’d also like to have learned a few songs on my guitar. I’ve owned a guitar for a good 5 years now but have always shied away from picking it up and actually learning how to play anything, so here’s to adding “amateur guitarist” to my repertoire of “somewhat” useful skills.


What leadership means to you:

Leadership to me is more of an action than a status or title. I’m a huge football fan, so seeing my favourite players influencing the game, both on and off the pitch, taught me a lot about how I can be a leader in my own community and about what skills and qualities would help me achieve that! Firstly, it helped me acknowledge the differences between a leader (e.g. the captain) and a manager. A leader cares about their team and how they can extract the best out of everyone, vs a manager whose job is to make sure everyone fulfils their role and works towards a goal. Secondly, being true to your values in everything you do is important when maintaining integrity. Someone who demonstrates good leadership skills should act with integrity as that gives others the chance to understand their motives and intentions, thus enabling them to get behind or not.


Person who has most inspired you:
I look up to many people in the entrepreneurship and tech spaces, but Marques Brownlee, the mastermind behind MKBHD, is someone whose path I particularly admire. For someone to make videos for fun while graduating from university and becoming a pro athlete, before effectively becoming the face of tech on YouTube, is quite exceptional – especially as a black man living in America!

Favourite meal:

Nothing beats a good curry goat with rice and peas!


Book/film recommendation:

I really enjoyed the movie Rocks, but I can’t recommend the book How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie enough!


Favourite place in Bristol:

Pitch 17 on the downs has a special place in my heart (UTFB), but I’m a big fan of Ashton Court Estate, especially in the summer, where you can catch some deer, great views and a local car boot sale on Sundays!

Huge thanks to Justin for sharing these insights into his experience of the programme, and some of his preferences. Please contact if you have a story you would like to share on this blog for Black History Month, and beyond…!

Meet Nathan, Postgraduate Research Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme

This week we get to know a bit more about Nathan who is one of the first five PGR Advocates for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme. This initiative is run by the Bristol Doctoral College and aims to support an increased sense of belonging and connection among Black, Asian and ethnic minority student PGRs in the University. A similar scheme is run for undergraduates by the Student Inclusion Team.

Highlight of being an advocate so far:

My highlight has been working with a group of incredible people! I am grateful for their consistent support over the past year and the opportunity this position has provided in making connections across the university.

Goal (in reference to the programme) for end of 2022-23:

My goal as an advocate this year is to create a consistent and established support network for BAME PGRs. I hope to achieve this by creating safe social spaces and providing supportive workshops which encourage empowerment in academia for this community of postgraduate researchers.

Top leadership skill gained/developed:

I’ve enjoyed being a person who can listen and I have developed a skill for making people comfortable with openly expressing their feelings and thoughts. I believe that being heard has been a powerful method of peer support for BAME PGRs and has empowered those who have attended our events.


Favourite meal:

Anything from Trinidad, but a favourite would have to be saltfish and fried bakes!

Favourite place in Bristol:

My favourite place in Bristol is Stokes Croft. I think that Gloucester Road has some of the best food places in Bristol and it also reminds me a bit of home (London).



Book/film recommendation:

My favourite book at the moment is Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. I really enjoyed the story, which explores themes such as belonging, vulnerability and mental health, and how the writing immerses you in the character’s thoughts.


Person who has most inspired you:

Both of my parents have, and continue to inspire me most in my life. I try to have the same courage and determination in everything I do and hope to make them proud!


Huge thanks to Nathan for sharing these insights into his experience of the programme, and some of his preferences! Please contact if you have a story you would like to share on this blog for Black History Month, and beyond…!


Black History Month – Black Mothers Matter

Read time 3 mins

For the first of our Black History Month blogs we had the privilege to talk to Bristol alumna Sonah Paton, co-founder of Black Mothers Matter.  Here, Sonah shares some insights into her own time at university, and the ground-breaking work she is undertaking to address the disproportionately difficult experience of expectant and early Black mothers in the UK.

Sonah, what made you decide to study at Bristol?

My dad had been a doctor at the BRI so I already had a connection with the city. My parents also had high academic standards for me and my two siblings, and Bristol met with their expectations.

What was your experience like at university?

I had a great time at university! I met Yomi and Aisha (the other co-founders of Black Mothers Matter) at an ACS (African & Caribbean Society) event at Freshers Week. There weren’t many Black British women in our cohort so I suppose that drew us together. It was a very white space, and there wasn’t much recognition that my experience would be different from that, but there was a good sense of community within my wider friendship group.

How did Black Mothers Matter start?

It basically started from a chat on WhatsApp!  We had all become pregnant during 2019 and had given birth just before or during the first lockdown, so our babies were introduced to each other on Zoom. As well as talking about motherhood in general, we also discussed how lucky we felt that nothing seriously bad had gone wrong for us during our pregnancies and births, especially in the light of the 2019 MBRRACE report which highlighted that Black mothers are four times more likely to die during pregnancy. Between the three of us we have a combination of skills in marketing and medical expertise so we said to ourselves why don’t we take action and do something about these grim statistics.

That is a shocking statistic – why do you think that is the case?

The system was built for white people, for example when babies are assessed to see how much oxygen they are getting the measure is how red/pink they are. This just isn’t a relevant test for a black or brown baby. There’s also NHS advice on nutrition for pregnant women which might not include ingredients that are used in a traditional West African diet such as yam or plantain. Things like that may seem small but they can have huge consequences.

How do you help make a difference to Black mothers?

We have two work streams, one of which directly engages members of the community by pairing women with doulas, providing antenatal support hampers and that kind of thing. The other project addresses systemic issues and includes an anti-racist education and training programme for midwives and maternity assistants. One of our overall goals is to achieve zero disparity based on race by the time our own children are ready to be parents.

What is your opinion of Black History Month?

Black History Month has the potential to be a powerful campaign, but it really depends on the approach people take. For example, at my son’s school they ran a great project about Roy Hackett who was a local man and one of the organisers of the Bristol bus boycott.  The content was really relevant and the children learned a lot. We do get lots of enquiries around this time and I sometimes find myself asking, where were you for the other eleven months of the year?!  But it can be a positive reminder to celebrate black culture, even if it’s through a small gesture – if you are buying a book, why not choose one by a black author?

That’s a nice idea – do you have a book you could recommend?

I love I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite, a very relevant read.


Thanks so much to Sonah for giving her time to us and sharing the excellent work being undertaken by Black Mothers Matter. If you would like to know more about the organisation, or have other stories you would like to share with us, please contact

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Jo Clough

Today’s blog is the last of the week of LGBTQ+ research focussed articles and is a special edition to celebrate Autistic Pride Day which takes place tomorrow, 18 June 2022.  In it, we are featuring Jo Clough who is a PhD student looking at the experience of autistic women accessing social care.  Although we particularly wanted to showcase her work for Autistic Pride Day, Jo explains why her work is also relevant to the LGBTQ+ community in general. 

What is the research project you are currently working on? 

I did a master’s in social work at Bristol University and I guess my dissertation and work as a student social worker inspired me to do what I’m doing now. Alongside this, the project also stems from personal and professional experiences of male bias and seeing how this plays out time and time again in research, practice and day-to-day life. 

I’m looking to interview autistic women and that’s anyone who identifies as a woman or basically non-male – so non-binary, trans, anyone who doesn’t exclusively identify as male!  

It’s to do with their experiences of adult social care, so whether people have had support from social care or whether they’ve tried to access it. I’ll be doing semi-structured interviews and I’m offering a variety of different formats to try and capture as many voices as possible because there’s a large number of people that quite like typing, for example, rather than just your traditional face-to-face talking interview.  

How is this relevant to the LGBTQ+ community? 

I’m coming from an intersectional lens, so I’m interested in how all different kinds of marginalised groups are impacted. For instance, a black gay autistic woman is very likely to have different experiences compared to a white, heterosexual autistic guy. I’m looking at how these characteristics and social identities overlap and can pose as barriers to accessing services and support. At times these can be subtle barriers that it’s not always easy for people to see.  

More specifically to the LGBTQ+ community, current research shows that there are higher rates of ‘non-heterosexuality’ in the autistic population and then, even more specifically, it’s higher in autistic women than it is in non-autistic women. So it’s very pertinent to the community, and going on from that, gender diversity is higher again in autistic populations compared to neurotypical populations, so it is very relevant to the community. 

Is the motivation for your research more to raise awareness or do you have a specific goal of increasing support for these people in some way? 

It’s quite a few things really. Even though there is research that might talk about autistic women or autistic people, it might not even report on sexuality or race. If you just talk about the LGBTQ+ community specifically, research shows that mental health outcomes are poorer, and then you throw autism into the mix and it’s even poorer again. So yes, it would be great to raise awareness, not just about getting support, but knowing that the support is there. The funny thing is that although there’s all this medicalised talk going around with autism, the way you get a diagnosis is through behaviour. So it’s a very socially diagnosed label and a lot of people don’t realise they’re entitled to social care support. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge of getting to hear those voices?  

There’s all kinds of reasons I think.  I’ve found going out and putting up paper posters in the community more difficult than I expected – people almost treat me like I’m a big company looking for free advertising!  We’re living in COVID times – charities are stretched, some are stressed. And because I’m trying to get a variety of voices and do something a little bit different to what’s out there already I haven’t gone through standard routes, like contacting the National Autistic Society for example.  So far I have found online methods to be the best, which makes sense when, as I said, there is a preference for online forms of communication, because obviously, you can have your video off, you can type, and also have that processing time which is really valuable in a world where that is not really the norm yet. 

Will you be celebrating Pride yourself?  

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

Yes, I will be going to the parade but also to Bitch, Please! which is an afterparty in the courtyard of the Christmas Steps. They have some great local DJs and the profits go to the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is an LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity, and to the All Out Ukrainian LGBTQIA+ fund.  So it will be great fun but all in a good cause as well! 


A big thank you to Jo for giving up her time to talk to us.  If you would be interested in taking part in her research you can contact her directly at  And if you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Dr Mario Campana

Mario Campana is a Lecturer in Marketing in the School of Management and has been at the University of Bristol since 2021. His research is focussed on consumer research and consumer culture theory specifically. His research programme is partly centred on diversity and inclusion, focusing on LGBTQ+ themes. We spoke to Mario about his recent work on RuPaul’s Drag Race and its place within LGBTQ+ brand history. 

What is the main motivation behind your research areas? 

I started my PhD in a different area of research, looking at alternative economies. I think it was something like 2012, 2013, and I just came across RuPaul’s Drag Race.  I got hooked to the point that I nearly stopped finishing my PhD! I watched all the series that were out there, and I kept watching it again and again and again!

I hadn’t been to any drag shows before watching Drag Race. So, I really entered this world more socially rather than on any research perspective. What I really found interesting were the stories that they were telling on the show – the experience of being excluded, of being the outcast in school, of growing up at the margins. I found that these stories were resonating with me, and with other people within the LGBTQ+ community. 

I found myself at a party, where two people were talking who were not LGBTQ+ and they were watching Drag Race as well, and these stories were also resonating with them! I found this interesting because when you look at the literature in Marketing, it says that the things that are for LGBTQ+ people are only for LGBTQ+ people, right?  

So, how could Drag Race have achieved mainstream success, despite carrying the LGBTQ+ stigma? We are in a period where there is more, I would not say acceptance, because different letters in the spectrum are facing very different challenges, but at least a bit more legal legitimation of LGBTQ+ people. And while the challenges are still steep, you have this show that showcases drag queens and normalises them. 

So, this is where the project started from. But as I started my research, other things came up too. I am now looking at, with other colleagues, the academic literature in marketing on LGBTQ+ people as consumers. We are trying to map the literature and look at underrepresented consumer segments. For example, transgender men and women or transgender people in general, who almost disappear when it comes to these studies, which are normally focused on white gay men in the Western Hemisphere. 

Has Pride itself taken a similar route to Drag Race in becoming a mainstream brand? 

I am an advocate of Pride as a protest, I think that’s the function of Pride, rather than having a parade of corporate sponsorships. Effectively, as they became a brand, they also become more commercialized. I think Pride is a bit of a crossroad in terms of what it represents. Pride really has to reconfigure what they stand for.  

Will you be celebrating Bristol Pride this year? 

So, I’m not sure I’ll be in Bristol for the march, but I celebrate Pride in general. You have to celebrate Pride if you can. Despite its identity crisis, Pride needs to be celebrated. The creation of visibility is always important. 

Has the response to your research themes changed since you started looking into them and if so, how? 

When we started the research, we were basically trying to show a case of a brand that was becoming mainstream, and we saw that there was more to it than that. So, we integrated this idea of stigma, and spectacles and trying to create visibility around this, the theme of the research has shifted since the beginning.  

In terms of participants that we interviewed, it’s quite interesting to see. I thought that my experience with Drag Race was a shared experience, but then as we started to interview, we started seeing that this story really resonates with people that have had hardships in their lives. So, people that had less hardships, they somehow see less in the show. 

Do you see a difference in responses to Drag Race, across different demographics? 

Yes, there are the very young people! Though we don’t yet have many of them in our research interviews. We have people more or less my age, that went through being in the closet when they were younger, that hardship there. And we’ve interviewed older people, who have been through the same thing, but they’re also really attracted to this fabulousness of drag queens! 

Another aspect is that I was very surprised how drag queens are cultural in the UK. A lot of older people, even non-LGBTQ+ people, have been to drag shows. They will watch RuPaul because they are familiar with drag shows. This gives them something in common with the younger demographic.  

Who has been your favourite drag queen on the show?  

Hands down Bianca Del Rio! But I have to say in the UK, Tia Kofi. 

A big thank you to Mario for giving up his time to talk to us.  If you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Dr Peter Dunne

In today’s blog we talk to Dr Peter Dunne about his fascinating work around LGBTQ+ rights and legal reform. If you ever wanted to find recent, relevant and meaningful research in this area then look no further!

What is the main focus of your research?

My research focuses on LGBTI+ rights. I’m particularly interested in both diverse family units and how the rights of LGBTI+ people have been affected by the European Union in recent decades. I work on all types of questions, including who can get married, how best to protect LGBTI youth and how the law should shape experiences of gender and sexuality. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work in a significant number of inspiring collaborators – in academia, civil society and the policy sphere.

In recent years, my scholarship and policy work has touched upon a number of less obvious or less visible questions, such as male pregnancy. In the United Kingdom, one of the positive aspects of our gender recognition laws (although, I do still think that these laws need to be updated) is that individuals can legally amend their gender without compromising their capacity to have children.

This raises the question of how the law can and should respond where people reproduce outside traditional expectations. An example might be a person, who is legally male, but who decides to conceive and give birth to a child. This is an issue which politicians, judges and policy-makers are increasingly trying to address, both in England and Wales, and in Europe. My research explores this subject from different angles. I also served as an expert in a recent case regarding this question in England and Wales.

What is the main motivation behind your work?

I think that there is often a perception that, within the UK, progress for LGBTI+ people has been unidirectional. Both as a matter of law and social acceptance, we sometimes assume that the situation for LGBTI+ in this country is almost universally positive. Of course, in a comparative context, where we look around other parts of Europe, it is true that some LGBTI+ people in this country experience relative levels of equality and non-discrimination. Yet, many problems remain – both in terms of legal rights (or an absence thereof) and in the lived-experience of LGBTI people. At least in terms of my work on domestic LGBTI+ rights, I am motivated to identify and explain outstanding gaps or problems in our current legal and social frameworks, and to think about ways, big and small, that we might be able to improve the equality and well-being of LGBTI+ communities in this country.

Do you find you get a positive response, or do you feel you’re always meeting resistance to this kind of research?

I think that, within academia, there is a real appetite for understanding how laws, social structures and cultural practices negatively impact the lives of LGBTI+ populations. In recent times, the UK, particularly our different funding bodies, has been good in terms of providing resources for LGBTI+-focused research, and in encouraging and creating relevant conversations within academic spaces. At present, there are numerous academics across the UK who are undertaking really important studies into the lives and experiences of LGBTI+ communities.

My perception is that, within the wider public sphere, it has become, within the last five years, more difficult to respectfully discuss the rights and experiences of LGBTI+ individuals, in a manner which acknowledges the dignity and humanity of the people involved. As an academic, I have a strong commitment to free expression and robust debate. Furthermore, as somebody who is interested in policy reform, I understand that proposed legislative changes, whether or not directed towards LGBTI+ populations, must be subject to appropriate scrutiny. Yet, I worry that, increasingly, our public conversations, particularly about gender and sexuality, disregard the dignity and humanity of those most affected. Furthermore, free speech works both ways. While individuals have the right to critique LGBTI+ rights, so too they must accept pushback against their own comments. Free speech protects both opposition to LGBTI+ rights and those who would criticise that opposition,

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about going into research and the challenges they might face?

For anybody who’s thinking about doing research in the area of LGBTI+ rights, I would say it is a hugely rewarding area of scholarship. In the social sciences, there are a number of questions out

there which remain unanswered, so I’d say it is a very exciting time to be doing doctoral work, post-doctoral work, or even undergraduate dissertations. Every year, I read dissertations from undergraduates who write on issues relating to LGBTI+ rights and it is always fantastic work. It’s really inspiring, and I hope that a number of these students will consider further research after their degrees.

And lastly, how will you be celebrating Pride?

Well, I’ll be celebrating Pride by doing quite a lot of marking! But I’ll also be celebrating how much the community has come on. I’m definitely not going to say there aren’t challenges, but even in the face of those challenges, there are people doing fantastic work. So, I’ll be spending time with friends, attending Pride-related events and taking the opportunity to engage in the research that inspires me!


A big thank you to Peter for giving up his time to talk to us.  If you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Dr Sarah Jones

In the first of this week’s blogs focusing on research we are talking to the vibrant Dr Sarah Jones, a lecturer and researcher in the Department of History.  Dr Jones’ teaching in 2022/23 will include the units Gender in the Modern World, Under the Covers: Sex and Modern British Print Culture, and Sexualities, reflecting her interest in histories of gender and sexuality.  She generously gave her time to discuss some of the challenges around researching queer history, and what appealed to her about taking part in a multi-disciplinary project organised by the Brigstow Institute. 

What was your motivation for getting involved in Jenny: Posed as a woman

The big motivation behind the Jenny project is the fact that queer histories, and especially trans histories, are often told through what we would consider regulatory bodies, so we tend to hear about people when they’re arrested, or oppressed in some way, or when horrible things are happening to them. And that’s obviously a really important thing to look at and understand, but it also means that you don’t really get that much of a sense of these people as real, living people.  History has often tended to focus on victimisation, oppression, and persecution  – what Tom (Marshman) wanted to do is think about different ways we could look at the archive and build a more rounded, human story about someone like Jenny.  Just a wonderfully complicated person living a complicated life in a complicated moment.   

Why do you think queer history is important?

I think it is important for a couple of different reasons. For one, I think it would be a wonderful thing if queer history stopped being something that is only covered as a sort of aside, an appendix to other kinds of ‘normal’ history. There’s this tendency to see it as kind of niche and to assume that it’s only done by angry queer people –  the power of history is showing that these are just people living their lives, and they are just as important and just as much part of history as everybody else. But I also think history is actually really important in helping us understand why we are the way we are now, how we’ve got here. I think it’s actually quite a powerful thing to look at people and say the oppression you’re facing is not inevitable,  it’s a product of historical processes.  And actually, if we understand that, maybe we can challenge it – that’s a really formidable, empowering thing.   

Have you seen many changes in responses to your research and teaching during the last 10 years? 

I would say in my experience, as our student body gets more diverse, I’m teaching more students who are openly, confidently, and happily queer, which is great. And of course that means they want to see histories of themselves. I’m seeing lots more students working on queer history as  part of their assessments for their own research, which is really exciting.  

What are the greatest challenges you face around your areas of research? 

So it’s quite difficult to find the same sort of evidence for queer history as it would be for other forms of history, just because you don’t always have that same kind of archival presence. People were either deemed to be not important enough to keep their archives, and lots of families burnt the papers of people who were in queer relationships after their death because they didn’t want to attract unwanted or negative attention. People wanted to keep their clandestine activities under the radar.  Funnily enough, they’re not going to write a diary that records all the crimes they committed!  

Will you be celebrating Pride this year? 

I think Pride is brilliant. I remember going to my first Pride when I was about 16, in Cardiff, and I was a little baby gay and I was having a proper in the closet, out of the closet the moment. I remember it was slightly terrifying at the time, but also just absolutely brilliant. I love to go to Pride and see the genuine diversity and people celebrating in their different ways. One of my favourite things is going along and seeing people find a comfortable space to be themselves, possibly for the first time. 


A big thank you to Sarah for giving up her time to talk to us.  If you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch:  

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research!

The University of Bristol is known for its world leading research, and throughout this week we will be showcasing some of the work carried out by and for our LGBTQ+ community in particular.  We are very lucky in Bristol to have a commitment to ensuring a positive research culture for all staff, and this is reflected in the diversity of the research we are going to highlight.  (more…)