Tyrone Steele, our political speakers officer, wrote this piece to reflect on why he is involved with LGBT Leaders, and what this November’s conference has in store.
The LGBT Leaders conference came about from a desire to increase queer awareness in important and influential spaces, and to connect activists, politicians and current leaders on the one hand with students from across the country on the other.
Through LGBT Leaders we hope to do our bit to challenge and change the homophobic, trans phobic, and bi-erasive attitudes that unfortunately still exist in our universities and workplaces. Our ambition is to inspire students and give them direct access to LGBT folk who have faced similar adversity in their own lives.
There are so many role models from every walk of life, and we’re delighted to bring them together for our second LGBT Leaders Conference.
My big focus is on arranging political speakers and organising panels that students will find engaging and relevant.
Last conference we had great sessions about careers in politics, along with being LGBT in an election and the challenges that poses. I had the privilege of going head to head with Lord Smith of Finsbury, one of the first openly gay MPs, and a champion for an increased LGBT presence in all spheres of life.
Although there has been progress in LGBT rights over the years, issues still remain, and we should never be complacent —trans rights, for instance, have too often been neglected by movements focused on narrow and not very intersectional issues.
I’m proud that this year we have a ‘Being Trans in Business and Politics’ panel session, with Labour’s first trans parliamentary candidate, Emily Brothers, to amplify these causes and promote greater solidarity between LGBT peoples.
International LGBT rights are also a key passion of mine, and this conference helps champion those issues to the next generation of leaders. We are proud to have Lord Cashman, the Labour Party’s global LGBT rights envoy, present at this year’s conference, reminding us of the challenges of queer people across the world.
I am so proud to be involved in this conference, but I won’t pretend that issues will change overnight, or that LGBT Leaders can provide the keystone in liberation. But if even a handful of students come away with a renewed confidence that leadership positions in business, politics, or activism are open to them, then it’s worth it.