As we shift from summer warmth to a cooler autumn, I’ve taken a moment to reflect on our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work here at Norfolk Wildlife Trust over the summer months. For NWT, June is a particularly important month: it features the summer solstice, World Swallowtail Day and 30 Days Wild, amongst a myriad of other events. However, for some of our nature loving community, it’s also an annual celebration of pride in our identities and the strength of our community. Whilst 30 Days Wild may be over, we can still carry our small acts of wildness into the rest of our daily lives. That’s precisely how I feel about one of the other aspects of June that’s important to me personally, and to the rest of Norfolk Wildlife Trust on our equality, diversity and inclusion journey; LGBTQ+ Pride.
June is an internationally celebrated LGBTQ+ pride month because it marks the annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots, in which Black, trans women made a stand against the police persecution they were facing. It was this early activism that has paved the way for people like me to be out and proud during LGBTQ+ Pride month, in our workplaces, in nature and in our day-to-day lives. As part of The Wildlife Trusts' commitment to creating an equal, diverse and inclusive workplace, we’ve recently established an LGBTQ+ employees network for staff and allies; the Out for Nature network. This operates across all 46 trusts, providing peer for peer support as well as educating and inspiring allies to support LGBTQ+ staff. I caught up with co-chair Nathan Liddle to discuss our experiences as queer people working in nature, what acceptance feels like, Out for Nature’s work, allyship and LGBTQ+ inclusion on nature reserves.
Nathan works as a marketing insight intern for the Royal Society for the Wildlife Trusts, alongside his work as an LGBTQ+ leader for Out for Nature. For Nathan, pride month is “A celebration of how far we’ve come, but also a reminder of how much we’ve still got to do.” He puts it simply; “We see the rise of transphobia and transphobic hate crime all the time. For non-binary and trans people, things are just getting worse.” As Nathan aptly states, “If you’re not in LGBTQ+ circles, you might never know this”. That’s why the work of organisations like Out For Nature, the Gay Birders' Club
and Natural England’s Pride in Nature are so important for us; these organisations work to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in order to create spaces that are inclusive and accepting for everyone.
For Nathan and me, queer acceptance looks and feels like nonchalance – in Nathan’s words, “You're accepted when it stops mattering.” It’s important to have LGBTQ+ support networks to provide a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ employees, volunteers and members, and of course to support and educate allies, but, as Nathan puts it, “It’s also important that having a husband as a man is a non-issue. Having partners of multiple genders as a bi person is a non-issue. It’s about not having to defend yourself in order to feel comfortable, in order to make other people comfortable.”
Fortunately, we’ve both had really positive experiences working for The Wildlife Trusts. According to Nathan, "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. Thankfully I've never experienced that on a TWT nature reserve, but the fear is still there. I think if TWT were to be vocally supportive of queer people, so we knew that was a welcoming space... That would erase those fears”. This change is happening within the Wildlife Trusts. For Nathan, “No-one has ever made me feel like I shouldn’t have a male partner”. As a bi woman working at NWT, I'm happy to report that I can echo that sentiment.
Across the Wildlife Trusts, the Out for Nature network has been busy constructing guidance and learning resources for Trusts to use across the country, as well as running seminars for staff. “We want to create a place of support for LGBTQ+ people within our workshops”, says Nathan. “It’s a way to know that there’s other people like you within the movement who know where you are coming from. We also want to educate and inspire allies to make a more inclusive movement. It’s all about turning awareness into action; we want to support allies trying and failing and getting back up on their road to LGBTQ+ inclusion."
Out For Nature will be appearing at the next Pride in Nature forum
. For more information on the Wildlife Trusts LGBTQ+ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, please head to Our commitment to Equality Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)
Meg Watts is Communications Intern: Diversity at NWT. This role is part of NWT's Future Professionals Initiative. This project is funded by the government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.