Liam Webb: LGBT+ History Month is a poignant reminder of the struggles and dangers communities still face
Doing what is personally rewarding is the key to balancing lots of roles in College and University life says Liam Webb. Alongside his BioMed studies Liam has a role as a representative for the graduate community at Trinity Hall and also works at the University level helping represent the LGBT+ community. Here, to mark LGBT+ History Month, he reflects on how the month helps remind us of the struggles and dangers still faced by LGBT+ communities around the world.
How have you been involved in the LGBTQ+ community at the University/College level?
I currently sit on the committee of the University-wide LGBT+ campaign as the Postgraduate President. My role on the committee involves working alongside our Undergraduate President to help with both the political and administrative sides of the campaign. Alongside the LGBT+ committee, as presidents of the campaign we sit on the Cambridge Student Union (SU) Executive, which is a group of elected students that work alongside the six elected sabbatical officers in ensuring the union works for – and is relevant to – Cambridge students. In addition to this, we also attend biweekly Cambridge SU council meetings to represent the views of our constituents. Furthermore, we keep in regular contact with JCR and MCR LGBT+ officers from colleges across the University, and work with the other SU campaigns to ensure the welfare and safety of our community.
How do you balance your role with your studies?
Fortunately, the majority of the meetings associated with my role on the committee take place outside of standard working hours, meaning I can use this time to focus on my academic work. Without wanting to sound too clichéd, the most useful thing I can do to manage all of the many different requirements involved with being part of a large campaign is to plan out my time thoroughly and ensure I am as organised as possible. It’s definitely a bit of a juggling act, but it’s certainly not impossible to strike a healthy balance, and as the work is very rewarding to me, it’s a very worthwhile undertaking.
What motivated you to take on the role of Postgraduate President for the campaign?
The pandemic not only heightens existing worries and worsens ongoing problems for many, but also introduces new, unexpected difficulties to members of the LGBT+ community. I stood for this position as I wanted to make certain that postgraduate perspectives are centred by the CUSU LGBT+ campaign’s committee – the challenges they face may be different to those of undergraduate students, but are equally important. This was especially pertinent at the present time seeing as many postgraduate students aren’t located in Cambridge.
Do you have anything planned for LGBT+ History Month?
We have a whole host of different events taking place throughout February to celebrate LGBT+ History Month, as well as our usual online social events. Our committee have strived to ensure there are talks and events relevant for everyone, no matter how they identify. All of our events are publicised on our social media channels, and everyone is welcome to come along whether they are a member of the campaign or not, so do feel free to check out our events calendar (which is being regularly updated as the month goes on) and see if there’s anything that interests you.
What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?
For me, it’s a chance for both individuals and larger organisations such as colleges and the University as a whole to show they support, recognise and act in solidarity with members of the LGBT+ community both past and present, and use their reputations to add credibility and gravitas to the very valid and fundamentally important causes that members of our community are striving for across the globe. When you live in a relatively liberal city such as Cambridge, it’s very easy to forget the struggles and dangers that LGBT+ individuals face in other parts of the country or the world for something as simple as who they are attracted to, over which they have no bearing. LGBT+ History Month serves as a poignant reminder of this.
Who is your LGBT icon?
I would have to say either Claude McKay or Justin Fashanu. McKay became Britain’s first Black newspaper reporter in 1919, and used his position to encourage resistance against racism and white supremacy. Fashanu was Britain’s first openly gay footballer, but it is said that tensions caused by his sexuality shortened his career at the top of the sport. Even to this day, there have been just a small handful of LGBT-identifying players in English football.
Liam is studying BioMed and is also a member of the Trinity Hall MCR Committee, serving alongside Charlotte Davison as joint Entertainment Officer.