LGBT+ Society runs a successful 'Can I Come Out Now' event in town

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On the 23rd February 2019, the University of Gloucestershire LGBT+ Society ran the event 'Can I Come Out Now' Spearheaded by James Wood, President of the LGBT+ Society and Alice Stanley, LGBT+ Experience Officer and VP of the LGBT+ Society. The event's aim was to celebrate LGBT History month and the 50 Years since the Stonewall Riots. The focus of “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, a quote from George Santayana, guided the organisation and theming of the event. With a view to bring together the LGBT+ Student population and the wider community, along with educating and celebrating the Stonewall Riots, Celebrating the LGBT+ rights movement sionce, evaluating the current state of the movement and education along with looking to the future, the event was setting up to be a big and well-rounded day of activities, education and celebration.

On the day, the event had a shop unit in the Regent Arcade, with a number of stalls being ran by local organisations, The LGBT Partnership Cheltenham, FFLAG Cheltenham, Pride in Gloucestershire, Hate Crime/Victim Support, GayGlos, 2Gether NHS Foundation Trust, Healthwatch, Gloucester LesbiFriends, InfoBuzz and Young Gloucestershire. This central location gave stall holders a perfect opportunity to engage with the general public and the work they do and how they support the LGBT+ Community. The LGBT+ Partnership, in particular, were placed just outside the entrance and acted as the first point of engagement to draw the public in.

Workshops were held in the John Lewis & Partners Discovery Room. We had workshops from the Society President on the History of LGBT+, a workshop by Hate Crime, one from The Eddytone Trust, a Yoga session and finally, a session from the Vice President on education and the future.

Also in attendance, was the Sheriff of Gloucester and Mayor of Cheltenham, who both have personal interest in the LGBT+ community. The Mayor and Sheriff attended in their chains and official gear and were seen to “legitimise” the event and the LGBT+ community for many people and drew people over to see what was happening. We also ran a #ComeOutForLGBT campaign, which some students may remember from Freshers’ Fayre 2018, whereby we got members of the public to sign our campaign board with pledges on how they would be supporting the LGBT+ community or simply sign their name in support. We filled up the first board within an hour and a half, with both boards filling up with 2 hours left of the event to go. Engagement throughout the day was high, and when the event drew to a close all organisation and volunteers left in high spirits after what shaped up to be a huge and successful event!

Photos of the day can be found here:

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