Interview: Tessa from Forum+
Ahead of IDAHOBIT on Sunday 17 May, we had a virtual catch up with Tessa Havers-Strong, Executive and Governance Officer at forum+. You can join in with the commemorations on IDAHOBIT safely this weekend.
Could you tell us a little more about IDAHOBIT and how you will be commemorating the day this year?
IDAHOBIT stands for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. IDAHOBIT occurs on the 17th May every year and is a day of commemoration marking the date when, in 1990, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).
This year, because of the restrictions in place to keep people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ll be with forum+ hosting a live online event of discussion, poetry and performance with Lisa Power LGBTQ rights campaigner, Xnthony award winning performer fusing cabaret and theatre, acclaimed performance poet Hannah Chutzpah and, Europe’s largest LGBTQ choir, the London Gay Men’s Chorus. For more information and a link to this free event please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Could you tell us about forum+?
Formed in 2002 and originally called Camden LGBT Forum, forum+ provides support for LGBTQ people as well as service delivery for local authorities to help meet their community safety and equalities objectives.
By hosting LGBTQ events throughout the year, providing training on LGBTQ issues and offering casework support to clients, our partnership work with Islington and Camden Councils creates safer communities for all and improves the lives of LGBTQ people living and working in the boroughs.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that LGBT people face today?
The UK has made great strides in recent decades in our acceptance of LGBTQ people, who make a vital contribution to our culture and society. Nevertheless, some LGBTQ still experience discrimination, harassment and crime because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Work continues in translating that progress into realising acceptance and understanding for all LGBTQ people.
What can forum+ do to help people in Islington and Camden address these?
forum+ provides services to support victims of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime and discrimination. We host LGBTQ social groups and events throughout the year, which help reduce social isolation and loneliness in the LGBT+ community, as well as raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ people in the local community. forum+ offers bespoke training and consultancy for companies and organisations to improve accessibility and services to LGBTQ+ customers, employees and communities. We have a wonderful team of volunteers who are integral to us delivering our services and improving the lives of LGBTQ people in Camden & Islington.
Tessa Havers-Strong with forum+ at Pride
What do you love most about Islington?
Islington has a proud and rich LGBTQ history and a strong LGBTQ community. Many significant events in the UK’s LGBTQ history have taken place in Islington, including the first public gay rights protest in Britain, which took place in Highbury Fields in 1970; the election in 1984 of Chris Smith, the UK’s first openly gay member of Parliament; and one of the UK’s first same-sex weddings at Islington Town Hall on 28 March 2014.
Islington has long been known as a diverse and inclusive place to live, a place where different communities and cultures achieve together. The LGBTQ community in Islington has made a significant contribution to the vibrant and diverse life in borough.
If you could change one thing about the borough what would it be?
It would be great to see more community festivals across Islington throughout the year. We have enjoyed past community festivals in the borough and would love to participate in more of these celebrations which strengthen community cohesion and celebrate the contributions we all make to Islington life.
Thank you, Tessa! Don’t forget to join in commemorations.