It may have just been the start, but everything starts somewhere!
Lillie reached out to several members of the LGBT+ community and allies as a way of gaining support and building the framework for the Partnership. At first, organisations such as GayGlos, GGLC and Gloscats invested a great deal of time into making it a successful launch.
Further to this, a link with Cheltenham Library and resources in the Council Chambers led to the first IDAHOT awareness campaign (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia). This involved talks from key community figures, as well as support stands with information and support available for members of the LGBT+ community, as well as family and friends.
As the Partnership began to gain more momentum and additional members, this led to greater activities and the ability to promote what each group were doing.
People in the community were starting to talk more openly around LGBT+ matters, and family and friends of those that identified as LGBT+ were able to easily find support. The University of Gloucestershire was now onboard, with the Students' Union and LGBT+ Society also making a commitment.
Key awareness campaigns were run during LGBT History Month in February, and then came the plans for a greater IDAHOT campaign, focusing on a number of matters the LGBT+ community faces on a regular basis. With a talk from Paris Lees, several workshops and information sessions ran throughout the day, and opportunities to discuss LGBT matters, the day was a huge success, with many members of the community feeling empowered and safe knowing they were able to access groups and services without judgement.
The Partnership now had around 10 key organisations involved, as well as multiple connections around the county offering their support. The Partnership started to put more resources in place, and promoting LGBT+ events in Gloucestershire and beyond.
From the very start of January 2017, the LGBT+ Partnership was pulling together a range of campaigns for History Month and IDAHOT, the main two focuses of the group, as well as supporting their member's gatherings.
LGBT History Month saw the launch of the Identity campaign, which was an opportunity to bring together the Partnership's organisations for a weekend event at The Wilson Art Gallery in Cheltenham. With a range of stalls and workshops over the two days, the event got people talking about what it means to identify as LGBT+, their heritage and what they hope the future will be like for them.
Identity also marked the start of a new image for the Partnership, with an overhaul of their marketing to the 'rainbow eye', now seen across much of their social channels and materials.
For IDAHOT that year, Matt Wester, then President for LGBT+ Society at the University, produced an hours radio programme about 'Identity', which was aired on Upload Radio and now available on Mixcloud. As well as this, the Partnership attended a number of events at this time, including Gloucestershire Pride and Cheltenham's Midsummer Fiesta.
The Partnership continued to grow throughout 2018, with a social media campaign throughout LGBT History Month, #CheltOut. This gave members of the Partnership the opportunity to discuss what they do to support the LGBT+ community in Gloucestershire. The campaign also focused on local events, and figures who identified as LGBT+ or supporters.
As well as this, the LGBT Partnership website was launched, giving more around the county the option to find information about what we do, as well groups within the Partnership.
Throughout 2018, the Partnership focused on making more connections and having greater visibility in the community, reaching beyond Cheltenham, into Gloucestershire and surrounding counties. There was a larger presence at events, such as the University's Freshers' Fayre, as well as several nearby colleges as an chance for young people to talk more about LGBT+ matters.
Come the end of 2018, the Partnership had over 20 member orgnastions and had formed a strong relation with newly-opened Sober Parrot in Cheltenham, where they now have monthly coffee socials.
In 2019, the Partnership expanded it's attendance at a number of events, ranging from Pride On Tour, Cheltenham Midsummer Fiesta, Freshers' fayres and community events. With this new members and partners have joined, such as Gloucester Lesbifriends, Inclusive Church, Trans Gloucester and The Eddystone Trust, and many others!
There was a greater focus on asking what the LGBT+ community was needing in the area - better access to healthcare was one of the big things that came up on our radar. We partnered with Healthwatch Gloucestershire who ran a number of sessions and opportunities for feedback.
The Chatty Parrot socials have grown, as a monthly gathering at The Sober Parrot in Cheltenham, and the same venue now also sees a regular Open Mic Night hosted by the Partnership.
A new decade with lots to look forward to, but more to do on gaining equality and inclusion across Gloucestershire and neighbouring regions!
Whilst we are living in a time when a good majority of people are accepting of those that identify as LGBT+, there's still opposition in places. We, as a Partnership, will be working to mutually support individuals and partners in Gloucestershire and neighbouring counties to gain a greater sense of security, know who our allies are and where to find them, and strive for more education and understanding for those who may not be quite as accepting at the moment.
Whilst 2020 brought with it huge challenges with the Coronavirus pandemic, which had a much wider impact on society, we were able to continue to move much of our support online.
With the likes of Rainbow Cuppas and Open Mic Night Live Streams, we continued to welcome LGBT+ and allies to join us from wherever they are.
Along with this, we've grown our partner organisations through making connections and having conversations to establish new links. New and existing members have helped shape our latest mission, which is now available on the 'Who We Are' page, and new volunteers and partners are always welcome!
We're hoping 2021 will bring more physical events that we can head out to and invite partners, friends and allies from across our network.