On liberation, LGBT+ and libraries

I’ve enjoyed marking LGBT+ History Month at King’s, where we are fortunate to have our Queer@King’s research centre in the Faculty, a thriving LGBT+ Staff Network and an LGBT+ Student Society. The UK has come a long way in a relatively short time: it’s worth remembering that 2017 sees the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in this country. So we need both to celebrate and to protect the freedoms we now have; we also need to remember that there are still many LGBT+ people who live in fear and do not yet enjoy the freedoms that should be available to all. There’s a lingering prejudice, of course, that it’s not okay to be LGBT+, that being LGBT+ is a choice – and a mistaken one at that. I’m glad that we as a Faculty can play our part in liberating people by declaring loudly and clearly that being LGBT+ is not only okay, it’s wonderful, and by providing a space in which we are all empowered to express ourselves openly and to be who we are, without fear of judgment.

I’ve also spent time this month preparing to mark International Women’s Day. On Wednesday 8 March we as a Faculty will be responding to the worldwide challenge to #BeBoldForChange by hosting an Arts & Humanities reception in the Chapel, 3-4.30pm, when we’ll be hearing from women – both academic and Professional Services colleagues – about their experience of taking bold action to help improve or develop an aspect of their life or career, about how they did it, what motivated them, what difference they made and how we can learn from them; we’ll also be making pledges about new ways in which we, individually and collectively, can make a difference in the future.

And another pledge we’re making in the Faculty is to expand and diversify the holdings of the Maughan Library at King’s by encouraging students and staff to champion and celebrate the liberating effect of books and reading. We want to ensure we have more works by authors from groups underrepresented in academia and more works on topics relating to the Students’ Union’s Liberation themes (including, but not limited to, race, queer studies, gender studies, disability studies, international/global studies, class, and economic inequality). The Faculty will buy a copy of any book nominated by a student or member of staff that is not currently stocked in the Maughan Library, and there will be a competition to identify the ten most inspiring ‘Liberating Books’.

Step by step, we’re making a difference.

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