Unique And United30 August 2022
In 1985 Cardiff held its first gay march, with the first Cardiff Pride event being held in 1999. And this weekend Cardiff hosts its first Pride since the pandemic with its theme of #UniqueandUnited to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community.
The struggle of those before us, who fought for rights of the LGBTQ+ community has resulted in me growing up in a Wales where my sexuality was never a hindrance or obstacle to life. Allowing me to live freely as a gay man without fear. And now I am a Queer researcher working openly within the world of science and research, with a focus towards my fellow Queers. Or as National Student Pride references it, ever so sweetly, Researching the Rainbow.
Since the early days of Leonardo da Vinci queer scientists have been crucial to the contribution of knowledge and improving the human existence. With today there being an ever-growing movement for Queer researchers to take up the mantle and lead the research that is about us and our community. As a gay man completing a PhD exploring the sexual health and behaviour of men who have sex with men, I am fulfilling the mantra of “nothing about us without us”. And I am not alone. Within many realms of science, various forms of queer researchers can be found across disciplines, just look: https://500queerscientists.com/ It is truly inspiring to see.
In response to the point of “nothing about us without us”, I was recently asked if I thought that only Queer individuals should conduct Queer research. This point was also recently raised in a session in the AIDS 2022 conference I attended in Montreal, with Queer activists wanting to that to be the case. However, I would disagree. It is essential that any research conducted includes members of the community within the research team to provide context and understanding of the population. However, as an active researcher you should aim to limit your personal influence within the work, being conscious of your own biases and perceptions of the research topic. Therefore, a member of the community being the researcher is not essential, as beneficial research can be conducted by anyone who holds respect for those involved in research. I also would not want Queer individuals to be boxed into only conducting one type of research, when we should permeate through every field, spreading the rainbow into every field of science and research.
Being present and active as a Queer researcher is extremely fulfilling and while in the UK, I have legal protection allowing me to truly express myself without fear, this is not the case globally. Still today across the world it is illegal and even punishable by death for me and my community to express ourselves and live openly. (As an example, see the Human Rights Watch webpage: http://internap.hrw.org/features/features/lgbt_laws/)
This weekend I will join my fellows Queers and celebrate ourselves in the freedom of Cardiff, but it is important that we all think of those who continue to suffer and be subjected to archaic laws. It is important to celebrate the rights gained but until we are all globally free, no Queer individual is ever truly safe. The fight for our existence continues but I am hopeful for the future, to a world where every Queer person can express themselves openly. #UniqueandUnited
*Here I use Queer as an umbrella term for all LGBTQ+ identities as I find it more meaningful. But this is my personal preference.
-By Adam Williams, PhD Candidate
The Centre for Trials Research is a UKCRC-registered clinical trials unit. It is publicly-funded to enable applied research that informs policy in health and social care in Wales and the UK, and is currently running studies across Wales, the UK and internationally. The Centre is funded through Welsh government by Health and Care Research Wales, and Cancer Research UK.