Chief Operating Officer, Robert Kerse, speaks about his first Pride event

By Vikki McCann-Rogers, Communications Officer

This Friday (1 July) is 50 years since the very first Pride march in London. 2,000 people took part. Now, more than one million people take London’s city streets to celebrate, and Pride events take place all over the world. To mark the occasion, I spoke to our Chief Operating Officer, Robert Kerse, about his very first Pride.

What do you remember about your first Pride march?

It was a mixture of being really life-affirming, because there were lots of other people like me, but I was apprehensive as well. I just didn’t know what to expect. I went to the Brighton and the Manchester ones about a week apart and I finally felt a sense of belonging.

I’ve been to Pride in London about five years in a row, and Bristol Pride whenever I’ve been here. I’ll be at the Bristol Pride event this year with my husband and our dogs.



We’ve clearly made incredible progress through the years. How important is it that we still celebrate pride today?

I think it’s hugely important for two reasons. Firstly, it’s still not always easy for everyone come out. So, it’s important for those people to see others like them, from different walks of life, and different identities. Secondly, some parts of our community are hugely privileged in this country. That’s certainly not the case for all of our community or LGBTQ+ people in other parts of the world, including countries not far away from here.

Pride started as a real protest movement – do we still have a fight on our hands?

I think we do have a fight on our hands for parts of our community, yes. And I think if you are privileged enough to be able to be out and safe, then that gives us a huge obligation in terms of fighting on behalf of others. That’s what people did before us, to give us the position that we have now. So yes, I feel a big responsibility

Do you feel a responsibility to be a role model here at the University too?

I do, and it’s something I need to be continually conscious of. You never quite know who in the room might be trying to find some kind of affinity with you or is making their own decisions about themselves or somebody close to them.

So yes, it is incredibly important. There will be people in our community who are not yet out; who perhaps are not in the kind of circumstance where they feel they’d be accepted; who maybe fear loss or hardship if they did come out. What we can do through role modelling is really important – it can give people hope.

Do you think being gay has had any impact on your work or on your career?

Sometimes people don’t know how to take me when they first meet me, but I think I’ve become less conscious of that over the years.

I also think people sometimes make a special effort to acknowledge my sexuality for whatever reason.  I’m always quite touched by that.

However, personally – given I’m a middle class, Oxbridge educated white male – the fact that I don’t tick the heterosexual box can take some of those edges off. A sort of leveller in some ways. I think because I’ve had the challenges of coming out the world is not as black and white for me as it might have been had I not been gay. That kind of struggle and difference helps me to be more empathetic with other people than I might have otherwise been.

I remember realising as a gay woman in my 20s that you don’t just ‘come out’, you have to keep doing it. Every time you meet someone new, or start a new job. Do you think that’s still as relevant now?

I think it’s still hugely relevant, but I’d hope the world is different than when I came out 20 years ago; I think certainly as a gay man it is much easier now. For other parts of the Community, there’s still quite a long way to go, I think.

When I first came out though – which does seem like a long time ago – I was pretty blessed by both my family and friends. A lot of people were very surprised though.

If I’m honest, I would say I still get a bit nervous about it in some circumstances, because everybody wants to be accepted and not singled out or identified for their sexuality.

What else can we do to help people feel they can bring their whole selves to work?

I think it’s talking about difference, whatever that difference is. I’ve always found any kind of equality, diversity and inclusion training I’ve undertaken where people tell you face to face what life’s like and challenge your preconceptions the most valuable.

We’ve done this previously with our frontline colleagues and our trans students. Experiential training is really, really important. You can’t ever walk in somebody else’s shoes, but the closer we can get to giving people access to those experiences, the better.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at Pride on 9 July and marching together as a Bristol community.

Me too. For me personally, I feel it’s really important to be with colleagues and students at such an important event for our community; but also to remind myself of everything that’s happened before us. The people who have paved the way. And the fact that there is still much more to do.

Of course, it’s always a really good atmosphere as well. An incredible buzz of so many LGBTQ+ people and supporters altogether. Whether it’s your first, tenth or even your fiftieth Pride – come and join us; come and march with us; and join an incredibly important party.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ students and staff for Pride 2022 – Part 2

Part Two Joshua and Abi


UG, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (MEng)

How do you identify?

Gay man

What does Pride mean to you?

To me, Pride is being true to who you are and loving yourself.

Have you been on a Pride march before and what are your memories?

I went on a Pride march back in 2019 in Birmingham. I remember the feeling of acceptance and just having fun and being able to celebrate with my friends

What does it mean to you to be part of the LGBTQ+ community?

I love having a sense of community and knowing that there will always be people out there who love and support each other.

And how important is it to study in such a diverse place?

I think it is important to study/work in a diverse place as it means that you can be true to yourself and not worry about the judgement of others


Undergraduate Student Administrator, School of Management and Co-Chair, LGBT+ Staff Network

How do you identify?

I describe myself alternately as bisexual or queer, although sometimes I’ll use “gay” as shorthand – one of my favourite things about being part of the community is that a queer identity can be a wonderful, fluid thing!   

I’m the Co-Chair of the University’s LGBT+ Network and am so proud to be a part of that group of amazing people and everything they do. 

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is inherently political to me – there’s no separating the two. Although I love the party and the festival and the messy fun of it all, the most important part of it for me is the fact that Pride is a protest, and the marches are a way of marking that.  

Pride for me is a connection to LGBTQ+ folk throughout the ages, and community, and resilience in the face of oppression, and power, and joy and love. It’s a belonging to the huge history of different people who are part of our community and have paved the way for us to march today.  

And I’m really excited to teach my little one about the people who paved the way for us to march together this year – and then to take him to the drag storytime on the Downs afterwards! 

Can you tell me about your very first Pride march?

I grew up in a very small town in the middle of nowhere, so my first Pride was actually the first ever Exeter Pride in 2009, when I went to university. I was so excited to go and so scared I wouldn’t fit in, but I had an absolute blast.  

I actually went with the woman who is now my wife, long before we became a couple! I vaguely remember a hot, sweaty march, and holding up a giant flag, and then wandering around stalls feeling overwhelmed and exhilarated and like I’d finally found somewhere to belong.  

For me, that was a wake up call that being queer was not something I wanted to ignore – it was an intrinsic part of me, and a beautiful part of me, and it informed everything about me. And that it was possible to be out, and proud, and for that to be a brilliant, exciting thing. (I think I went home and immediately googled Marsha P. Johnson after seeing her on a poster!) 




Celebrating LGBTQ+ students and staff for Pride 2022 – Part 1

As part of this year’s Pride campaign, we recently invited LGBTQ+ students and staff for a photo shoot on the very sunny Cantocks steps (appropriately dressed in their rainbow gloriousness!)

In between sessions we also asked them about their feelings about Pride and why it’s still important today.

Part One – Charlotte and Suzanne


UG- Modern Languages (Three Language Programme) (BA)

How do you identify?

I am a Lesbian! and my pronouns are she/her : )

What does Pride mean to you?

To me pride is about supporting all members of the LGBTQ+ community, advocating for gay and trans rights comes before having a silly fun time (although having a silly fun time is also super important). Pride is not about rainbow capitalism or corporations. Because that is cringe!

Have you been on a Pride march before and what are your memories?

Yes! I’ve been to London Pride twice and Brighton pride one time. My first pride experience in 2018 was very fun, I went with my friend Foyle, a young poet and Oxford student, Emily and had a lot of fun! It was awesome to be around so many queer people because I didn’t know many at the time and I wasn’t fully out. The second time I got squashed in Leicester Square McDonald’s because there were too many people and it was less fun but still nice.

What does it mean to you to be part of the LGBTQ+ community?

It means I am a fan of American rock band My Chemical Romance. Also, it means I have the best most awesome gayest little gay friends in the world at home and at uni; queer friendship is the most important thing in the world EVER. Gay rights, kiss your friends <3

And how important is it to study in such a diverse place?

Important! If I was surrounded by straight people forever I would be sad. but I am not, which is good.

Suzanne (on the left) with her partner, Abi

Governance and Executive Manager, Student Union

I was also Co-Chair of the Staff LGBT+ Network for 4 years and stepped down in March 2020

How do you identify?

I identify as Gay or Lesbian

What does Pride mean to me?

Pride is about the LGBTQ+ community from every different identity coming together to show that they exist and are part of society. It is a time to celebrate all the amazing identities and interests which help create a rich diverse society and it shows the straight cis community that we are just like them in so many ways but who we fall in love with, marry or sleep with may be different. It is both a chance to celebrate but also to protest to ensure we have equity in society

Can you tell me about your very first Pride march?

My first pride was in London just after I came out in March 2000 when I was 23 and I was with my girlfriend. It was fantastic. I had watched Prides before and loved them but never taken part in one. When I was marching in the parade it felt amazing as there were so many people just like me and I fitted in and felt I belonged. There were lots of rainbows and bright colours and people were fun and happy to be themselves and it was so lovely meeting people from all different identities.

Why is it important to have an inclusive workplace? 

It’s so important to create a diverse place to work. When you’re gay, you’re coming out every time you start a new job. But it should be something you say as part of everyday life.  

Organisations can do things to make this easier, by using the word partner for example, and remembering to use the correct pronouns.   



Why Netflix’s Heartstopper is the positive representation the LGBTQ+ community needs

By Josh Littleford – Student Champion

I’m sure many of you have watched, or at least heard about, Netflix’s newest hit Heartstopper. If you haven’t, it’s the story of two guys at an English secondary school who end up falling in love, and is adapted from the graphic novels of the same name by Alice Oseman. It consists of an amazing cast of LGBTQ+ characters going through issues that will be relatable for most LGBTQ+ people. It does this in a way which makes it incredibly heart-warming and doesn’t follow the usual tropes of many LGBTQ+ love films which tend to end in heartbreak.

Heartstopper is such an important show for representation and bringing certain issues and aspects of being LGBTQ+ into the mainstream. It spreads a message that LGBTQ+ people don’t have to settle for bad relationships but are able to find happiness. It gives positive bisexual and transgender representation, which is often lacking compared to gay and lesbian representation. The show also tackles the issue of being LGBTQ+ in sport – something that still faces lots of stigmas.

But Heartstopper isn’t the only heart-warming show out there that gives positive but relatable representation to LGBTQ+ characters and relationships – even if many articles I’ve read are suggesting it is the first to do so.

Love, Victor – a spin off from the 2018 film Love, Simon (which itself was adapted from the book Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli) – is airing its third and final season this month. It follows the story of Victor as he begins life at a new school, whilst also starting to question his sexuality. Whilst the first season focuses on the idea of sexuality and coming out, the second and third seasons explore the idea of life of a young LGBTQ+ person after coming out.

Another favourite of mine is Young Royals – a Swedish show on Netflix. Even if you’re not a fan of subtitles, it is so good that you won’t mind. The show follows the fictional Prince Wilhelm of Sweden whilst he attends boarding school and falls in love with one of his classmates. He is second in line to the throne and doesn’t want his family to go through any more scandals. It’s a show that you won’t want to stop watching, until you realise you’ve finished the first season and have to wait months for the second to be released.

In the world of animation, both She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and The Owl House are notable mentions for their vast array of LGBTQ+ representation and strong story telling. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which is the reboot of a He-Man spin-off, featured multiple bisexual, lesbian, and transgender characters – even if some of their identities weren’t really referenced within the actual show at all and those that were referenced weren’t until the last season. It focusses on Adora as she joins the Rebellion to fight the Horde, after gaining the power to transform into She-Ra – a 6ft warrior woman. If you want a show that is fun and silly and yet still provides strong characters and emotional moments, then it is definitely worth a watch. The Owl House follows Luz the human as she stumbles through a portal into the Demon Realm, where she trains with Eda the Owl Lady in the ways of magic. Luz herself is bisexual, and the show also features an array of LGBTQ+ characters – including Raine Whispers who provides notable non-binary representation. The show is made by Disney – a company who have been lacking in any form of LGBTQ+ representation in the past. These two shows allow children to grow up seeing LGBTQ+ representation on their screens, which is vital for young people to see that its okay to be LGBTQ+, whether they are LGBTQ+ or just allies.

In wider media, shows such as The Haunting of Bly Manor, Our Flag Means Death, and Sense8 give some amazing representation too. The Haunting of Bly Manor is a horror show on Netflix that tells the stories of the many people – both living and dead – who inhabit Bly Manor, when a new au pair arrives at the house. Whilst being haunted, an LGBTQ+ romance blooms. Our Flag Means Death is a recently released action/comedy about pirates from director Taika Waititi. Hilarious hijinks ensue when Stede Bonnet leaves the life of an American aristocrat to become a pirate captain and then meets the feared Captain Blackbeard. The show features a diverse range of LGBTQ+ characters  (with prevalent non-binary, gay and bisexual representation). Sense8 follows a group of 8 people from around the world who one day are suddenly able to communicate with each other through a psychic link that forms between them. It features a diverse set of LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ characters who are all well written with meaningful relationships and impact on the plot.  These sorts of shows normalise LGBTQ+ characters by not really focussing on the fact thatthey are LGBTQ+. The characters are LGBTQ+ but aren’t treated any differently for it, which makes them well-written characters who provide some very good representation.

Whilst Heartstopper is a great show for presenting positive LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, it is by no means the first to do so and let us hope it won’t be the last. There also exist many more examples of well-written LGBTQ+ characters in TV but, unfortunately, I cannot list them all. Happy Pride Month!

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…)