Handing on our History gallery page

The exhibition Handing on our History, an LGBTQIA+ project by artists Richard Bliss and Phyllis Christopher, seeks to create an archive of people’s experiences in the North East over several decades.

Handing on our History

Phyllis Christopher & Richard Bliss

At the Northern Pride ‘Blue Light Breakfast’ 2023, artists, Richard Bliss & Phyllis Christopher, engaged with Newcastle Hospitals Trust staff, as well as ‘blue light’ colleagues from Northumbria Police, Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service and the North East Ambulance Service.

You can read, in their own words, what Pride means to them.

These staff portraits, and stories, now form part of this ongoing archiving project. This Handing on our History exhibition aims to bring visibility to our LGBTQ+ community at sites across Newcastle Hospitals.

Jonathon Kendal

Pharmacy Division. For me Pride is about the community coming together. Showing that we just want to live the life that we are comfortable with, being who we are and with the people we love. Some people say why isn’t there straight pride, but I say you haven’t had to fight for the things that we haven’t got. Pride isn’t just about the fight, its also a celebration of who we are and what we have achieved.

Darren Beale

For me, Pride is about coming together, celebrating inclusion and about being one big happy family. There are still challenges in the NHS so events like Northern Pride are about gathering together and showing our support for the whole LGBTQI+ community. I think we make change by telling our stories and making sure all our voices are heard. The more voices we hear, the more changes we make and the more difference we make in the world.

Paul Richardson-Scurr

Pride as a Dad, it makes me proud of who I am and my family, and representing myself as a gay man. Working in the NHS being gay has never been an issue for me. Having representation of LGBT people in the NHS helps people who are not so out, or proud, have someone to talk to. There are still some LGBT people in the NHS who don’t feel out and proud, so having something like this, the Trust being part of Pride, it’s really important.

Joanna Bainbridge

Pride to me is all about being who you are. Pride is so important. I brought all my family to the first Newcastle Hospitals Breakfast and I felt so proud of my whole family. I use my pronouns badge, because I know that is so important to lots of people. I want my patients of all ages to feel safe with me.

Catherine McCready

Pride means that everyone’s involved and no-one is left out. In my work, we accept children just as they are, especially as children are just finding out who they are. I think everyone’s different, and accepting people for all their differences is just what we should do, to make things better for the whole of our community.

Stewart Keenan

I am a Specialist Nurse. Pride means we are all accepted and we are all included. We are stronger together and we are stronger as a team. Working in the NHS we see all sorts of people. People with all sorts of sexualities; with different gender identities from different communities. It’s my job as a Specialist Nurse to understand and respect who they are, and to educate my colleagues, so that every patient feels accepted.

Priyanka Krishnaswamy

I am proud to be an ally and support the LGBTQ+ community. I do this by being open with my support for equality and fair treatment without discrimination, I try to stay informed about what is happening so I can support LGBTQ+ people, however I am and wherever I am. I have always seen the world as a place where people should be able to be whoever they are, without being discriminated against or spoken down to. I want to give our patients the opportunity to express themselves as they want to.

Drew Dalton

Senior Lecturer. Founder of Report Out. As a proudly bisexual guy, Pride is a time to be seen a little more, because we tend not to be seen, and we tend to be forgotten about amongst the acronym. I feel that bi people are not able to be authentic in any space. But I’m also a supporter of Pride’s around the World. The challenge we face globally, is the un- relenting and systematised attacks, on LGBT people around the world.

Matt Murray

I am a Detective Sergeant in the CID, and Chair of Northumbria Police LGBT Staff Association. Pride is a personal and professional celebration of equality. It’s about being visible to the wider community and it’s one big party. There have been problems for some people in the Force, and that’s why the LGBT staff association is there, and we have been able to make changes. I like to think that if someone from the community saw me wearing the rainbow epaulets on duty, they would feel more confident to come and to talk to me.

Colin David Scott

Last year I was the first Secondary Head to come out as gay. Pride means to me not having to hide. I joined the Special Constables in 1990. I think I was emotionally repressed, because of Section 28 and the 1980s. So Pride means, just being able to be me, and until we have that across the whole world, people just being able to be who they are, we’ll need Pride for decades, maybe even centuries.

Claire McLelland

Trust Chaplain. I grew up in a time when it was a bit of a stigma to be gay, I’m so glad my lesbian daughter doesn’t have that. In my work I am really happy to be in an organisation that promotes inclusivity, but that isn’t the case in the Church of England, there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to thinking about same sex relationships, and it hasn’t even begun to think about the whole issue of trans identity. But I think events like Pride, where we share our support are really important.

Jordan Brown

Clinical Care Assistant, North East Ambulance Service. Pride means a lot to me, as a person as part of an inclusive service. There is a lot of homophobia, and being publicly facing services, we meet a lot of it. Sometimes in patient’s homes but also at incidents outside. It’s good to hear from people in other emergency services about their experience with the public, sometimes good, sometimes not so good, but let’s hope we move towards more great stories. Some emergency services haven’t had a good press around bullying and harassment recently. We need to show that not everyone in blue light services is like that.

Helga Charters

Pride to me is supporting my friends, my colleagues and people I don’t even know. People are individuals and they should be respected for who they are. I think there is prejudice in the NHS and in society. Supporting Pride is about helping to overcome that prejudice. Pride is about how we bring more allies in to support the LGBTQI+ community. We need to learn to respect every individual’s rights; that way we learn to understand them. It’s about listening and learning how to overcome prejudice.

Elaine Humphrey

I work at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care as part of the Management Team. I am taking part in the project because I am the proud mother of a trans daughter, and I want people to see that I really do support her and the whole LGBTQ community. The NHS is inclusive, we support people from every part of society. As an ally I hope I can help staff and patients manage difficult issues, like recognising that if someone has a cancer that is specific to one sex or the other, we recognise that our biology doesn’t determine our gender.

Martin Wilson

Chief Operating Officer. I’m publicly out as a gay man. I want people to know there is no place for bigotry and discrimination in our Trust. For me it is really important that people feel that the Trust is owned by the communities that we serve. It’s about trying to promote the amazing care that our staff are able to deliver. I want people to live in a world where they have somewhere to live, someone to love, something to do and something to live for able to deliver. I want that for people whatever group, community or background they come from.

Sean Marshall-Kellie

Specialist Clinical Nurse in Stone Disease. Pride allows us to be who we want to be to be free, and also that we are fighting for equal rights. I work for a good organisation, but there are challenges with the older generation, who assume you are heterosexual and ask about your wife. I think we could create a more inclusive NHS by just continuing to shout about it and talk about the great things that we do, because we are very good at just doing it, and not vocalising it.

Nicola Walker

Chief Inspector, Northumbria Police. Pride for me is a real mix of professional and personal. I’ve been a Police Officer for 21 years, and I’ve really seen a huge change in how we celebrate Pride over that time. Undoubtedly the Police Service has come an awful long way, in the past that relationship between the Police and the LGBT community has been difficult. That’s why the commitment to diversity and inclusion is so crucial. It improves leadership, recruitment, retention of officers, and that all links in to making policing better.

Catherine, Jenny, Jackson & Grant van Niekerk

We are a very happy family and for us Pride is about celebrating who we are as individuals, and who we are as a family. It’s about celebrating the people who have gone before us and who have allowed us to be who we are. I think for some companies it’s about a tick box, putting pronouns on the end of emails and thinking that they’ve done their bit, but we need to do more. It’s great that the Trust encourages people to be part of ED&I groups, it helps the NHS to go that bit further. And Jackson? “It’s FUN!”

Amy Tapping

Police Constable in Planning. Co-chair of local Police Association, Regional Lead of LGBT Network. Pride is an opportunity to feel safe in celebrating who we are and to meet like- minded people. But it’s not only that, we need to make sure that we remove barriers for the victims of crimes, like domestic abuse or sexual violence. We need to make people feel safe, we need to support them and safeguard them as victims.These events are great, as there are Police leaders here, who are both allies and who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Handing on our History started as an LGBTQ+ history project collecting portraits and oral histories and includes those who were involved in the first North East Pride events. The people featured included those who fought against discriminatory laws like Section 28 and campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights during the 1970s & ‘80s. It is an ongoing archive of people's experiences and memories here in the North East of England. The project is focused on social and political activists; however, it also includes stories about the family and private lives of people through these decades, giving insight to their lived experiences.

At Newcastle Hospitals we are proud to work with Northern Pride annually and strive to continue our work to champion the rights of LGBTQ+ communities.

This display has arisen through the proactive work of our Pride Staff Network, supported through the Arts Programme, part of Newcastle Hospitals Charity.

Further information can be found here: https://www.handingonourhistory.co.uk/