02 June 2011

Celebrating Colchester’s Diversity

Colchester Campus

Celebrating 40 years of queer

The University of Essex’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) and Friends Society will be celebrating 40 years of diversity in Colchester this month as part of its national award winning 40th Anniversary campaign.

Colchester Town Hall will provide the venue for a panel discussion on Tuesday 7 June to explore the history and development of sexual equality in the town.

The University of Essex had one of the first LGBT Society’s in the country with meetings taking place in one of the residential towers back in 1971.

Since then the Society has helped to raise awareness of LGBT issues and campaigned for sexual equality. Particular highlights amongst its 40-year history include organising a major gay liberation conference, helping to establish the Colchester Outhouse, home of the Colchester Gay Switchboard, in 1979, and more recently, winning the LGBT Society of the Year Award at the National Union of Students LGBT Awards in 2010.

Panellists include past and present members of the LGBT and Friends Society, together with representatives from Colchester Outhouse.

Robert Wayman, current President of the LGBT and Friends Society, said: ‘The Society, together with the University and Colchester community, has been instrumental in raising awareness of LGBT issues. The level of acceptance and support amongst the wider community has made Colchester a unique and safe place to live, work and study.

‘This event will be a real celebration of everything that has been achieved over the past 40 years and we hope to welcome as many people as we can to get involved with the discussion.’

‘40 years of queer in Colchester: Panel discussion’, takes place in Colchester Town Hall on Tuesday 7 June at 7pm. Admission is free and open to the public but please register to secure a place, e-mail events@essex.ac.uk, telephone 01206 872807.

Notes to editors

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone 01206 872807, e-mail comms@essex.ac.uk.

Colchester Gay Switchboard, based at The Outhouse, is a major centre for the surrounding region. It not only runs the helpline, but also offers a range of support services covering LGB, HIV/AIDS, TV/TS.

For more information about the LGBT Society, visit www.essexlgbt.co.uk.

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