Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

On the LGBT+ side within the firm, I’ve overseen the firm’s elevation in the Stonewall WEI from 53 to 9, I’ve installed an LGBT mentoring programme (we’re about to hit 40 matches and produced several queer awareness sessions – including for trans aspects at all levels. Recently, I’ve brought in the Terrence Higgins Trust to talk, have engaged Corporate Queer to publish Pride month photos of queer and ally colleagues and have recruited three outstanding queer people into the team I lead. 

With other law firms, I’ve established Queer City Law Career for 4 “magic circle” firms – a grad rec event for 80 registrants, have trained into 15 law firms and am now launching with 12 law firms The LLP! which is a career development programme for queer senior lawyers, the first of its kind (I think).  One thing I love about The LLP! is that its design means some funding will go to several LGBTQ+ charities and NFPs. 

I also chair the City of London Law Society Training Committee and with them have established a fund called SWSQF for which I have personally raised over £1million – over 100 social welfare workers will now be funded to qualify as solicitors.  I am also CEO City Century, a career-creation collaboration of over 50 City of London law firms who will now employ significantly more than 100 solicitor apprentices annually – it’s truly industry-shaping.

Outside the legal sector, I regularly post on LinkedIn re queer matters which impacts people both within and outside of my organisation, including following m being street-attacked this winter. 

In the LGBT world, I have assisted (a little) Legally Lesbians and made a significant financial donation to the Global Butterflies Foundation.

But my biggest achievement is my family – my husband and partner of over 30 years, Neil, and our two dogs, Maxwell and Smith.  And my friendships – my nine closest friends will be joining me on the awards evening.

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

I see intersectionality as a series of layers people need to negotiate – some of them are easy (or afford you privilege), some are more challenging, all need to be looked at together as a tapestry of experience, qualities and insights that deserve exploration, understanding and accommodation. 

There is limited understanding and awareness of intersectionality within our community – intersectionality recognises that we can hold multiple marginalized identities, and these intersecting identities can compound and create unique experiences of discrimination and oppression: the layers thing.  We don’t all understand this and so don’t advocate for it.

Barriers to appropriate representations of IIGs include lack of visibility and representation of marginalized groups (e.g., people of colour) within the LGBTQ+ community (cis, white, middle-class gay men like me are not always the most helpful, although many are, of course). The queer community has made significant strides; there are still many identities that are often overlooked, ignored, vilified, attacked.  And, typically, funding is low/no for queer intersectional identity groups – preventing good access to healthcare, legal protections, and community spaces – this leads to exclusion.

I try to fight for transgender, non-binary, intersex, ACE siblings – my small attempt to help them with their unique challenges and discrimination, often unrepresented in mainstream LGBTQ+ spaces.  I’ve love us to continue to educate ourselves, amplify marginalised voices, and work to include and value all of our queer colleagues.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

Honestly?  Its varied, if generally improving – but not for all, not everywhere, not all the time. 

We have visibility and representation of LGBT individuals in media and popular culture in the UK – thank you, British LGBT Awards!  Major brand and companies openly support the community – thank you, Stonewall!  And it’s been pleasing – as an old-timer queer activist – to see a rise in advocacy and activism – Trans in the City, Global Butterflies, Albert Kennedy Trust, Mermaids, Pride in London, Black Pride etc – promoting equality and fighting discrimination.  And we know there are some great prominent allies at senior societal levels, all of which helps – all of this leads to increased understanding and support.

But there’s such a long way to go, especially for trans and non-binary individuals. Discrimination e.g., through healthcare barriers and violence against this community, such as Brianna’s murder and then the constant media vilification haunts me – we should be so much better than that.  We must push harder for our trans and non-binary siblings.  My own recent experience of being randomly attacked – at the end of my street – makes me question my belief in 100% LGBTQ+ acceptance. 

One good thing is that I know we can do it – we are a creative, resourceful, resilient, tenacious community and so we will win so that we can all be free to be who we are.

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

It’s a surprise and of course an honour to be nominated – and thank you to Jenny and Dorothea, my colleagues, for taking the time to make that nomination.  When I joined City law nearly 35 years ago, things were very different, so it feels *quite the looooooong journey* for the British LGBT Awards to have shortlisted me as a Top 12 Trailblazer.

It means a lot to me but, more importantly, I think it means lots to those in the queer community – out or otherwise – who do not consistently see who we are or what we do being recognised – these awards do just that.

And nowadays, particularly in the UK, having some good news about, around and of the LGBT+ community – in amongst the barrage of negative messaging we encounter on an almost daily basis – is A Good Thing.

So, THANK YOU.

To those of you emerging into our community, there is hope, there is family, there is love, there is fun.

Congratulations to others nominated in the Trailblazer category, one of whom (not me) will win!