Whilst Norfolk Wildlife Trust celebrates June as our month of easy actions for nature (otherwise known as 30 Days Wild), I’m also celebrating for another reason: it’s LGBTQ+ Pride month!
LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (or Questioning) people, however the term covers a whole umbrella of many different sexualities and gender identities. In fact, there are so many we’ve added, plus – it’s quite impossible to narrow down the whole spectrum of gender identity and sexuality to a catchy acronym! It’s important to consider LGBTQ+ issues alongside experiences of nature and environmental issues because being an LGBTQ+ person can severely impact your experiences outdoors. As our CEO Eliot Lyne says, “We want Norfolk’s nature to be enjoyed by everyone, and we have a lot to do to get there!”
Let’s put this into context. Most (if not all) LGBTQ+ people will experience discrimination outdoors, however transgender people are particularly likely to experience hate crimes. 2,630 trans victims reported attacks in 2020/21; a UK statistic that becomes even more shocking when you consider that 88% of trans people don’t report serious hate crimes. This begins to illustrate why LGBTQ+ people might not feel comfortable walking alone outdoors, being outdoors with a partner, or even going to an isolated space like a reserve. As former Out for Nature LGBTQ+ leader, Nathan Liddle, describes; "Nature reserves are often seen as if they’re for a particular type of person – older, white, middle-class. How are they going to react to two men holding hands? It’s always in the back of my mind.”
We want to eradicate this fear. NWT ambassador Nick Acheson describes Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s stance perfectly; ‘As nature conservationists we celebrate biological diversity, we understand how important it is for functioning ecosystems, and we stand up to protect it. The same is true for human diversity. Our society is richer, stronger and more creative for including and fostering a wonderful diversity of people and their voices. People from every background and from every point on the amazing spectrum of human identity are not just welcome on our reserves, at our events and in our team. It's more than that: diversity is at the core of who we are and what we strive to achieve for nature and society.”
During my time here at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, I’ve written about LGBTQ+ people in nature and conservation, joined the national ‘Out For Nature’ LGBTQ+ staff network and made excellent progress working with LGBTQ+ people across Norfolk to make nature more welcoming for everyone. This work is vitally important to the trust, but also to me as a (self-described) queer, non-binary person. In my work as a paid Equality, Diversity and Inclusion intern, I’m drawing all of our teams together to brainstorm a greener future for everyone – cultivating a culture of acceptance, recognition and support for staff, volunteers and visitors alike. After all, we’re all just here because we love nature – discrimination should ideally never play a part in how we experience the natural world..
It’s amazing watching this conversation grow within the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, but I know we can go further – so I’m extending a branch (or a rainbow) to any LGBTQ+ or social justice groups who are interested in visiting our reserves, collaborating on events, or working together moving forward. We want you here. We want you out in nature. You’re just as welcome as all of our other visitors, staff, volunteers and trustees, and we’re excited to get to know you all.
For further information and collaboration opportunities regarding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, you can contact me at [email protected].
Have a lovely pride if you’re celebrating!