Back in 2020 one of the Women’s Hub members approached the Women Friendly Leeds team to ask if we would consider putting on an event to raise the visibility of, and celebrate LGBT+ women in Leeds, and of course we agreed. The Women Friendly Leeds movement is committed to hearing and amplifying all women’s voices, and include them in our movement to be the 1st UK Women Friendly City.
From there, we pulled together a steering group of representatives from the LGBT+ Forum, Leeds City Council LGBT+ staff network, Sage at Mesmac, the WY Archives where WY Queer Stories has been deposited, Leeds City College LGBT+ network, Women’s Space, and NAIL (Networking Alliance In Leeds). The steering group designed the event, suggested panel members, pulled together the questions for the event, and publicised it among their networks.
The panel discussion event aimed to celebrate and raise the visibility of Leeds LGBT+ women, hear about their journeys over time, and their role models, hear about their experiences and views on activism, in particular women’s movements, and their experiences of navigating services.
Tamara Turner-Moore, a Senior Lecturer and lead of the Stigmatised Sexualities and Sexual Harm research group at Leeds Beckett University, and also a former volunteer for Bi Pride UK, led and facilitated the discussion. The panel members included Maggie Dawkins, founder of Leeds LGBT+ forum, Jane Stageman, Project Freedom, Wieke Eringa, CEO of Yorkshire Dance, Jenny Wilson, Chair of Happy Valley Pride and former producer of Bradford Pride, and Pauline Fleck, member of Sage, Women’s Space, Friends of Dorothy, and Trans 25+ group.
The event was a great success with lots of positive comments from the attendees. The discussion was thought provoking, insightful and informative, and Women Friendly Leeds has made a commitment to hold further LGBT+ events and to make these more culturally diverse. Our next plans are for another event in June, which will coincide with Pride Month and Black Pride UK. We look forward to planning that event in the coming months. If you would be interested in taking part in either the steering group or as a panel member, please do get in touch with Emily at [email protected]
I would like to thank the steering group, the panellists and the attendees for all your contributions and for raising the visibility of LGBT+ women in Leeds and their fantastic contributions. Here is a quote from one of the attendees “A big thank you for your honesty and visibility as LGBT+ women. What a celebration of who we are, what we share, and also our differences.”