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Making History in LGBTQ+ History Month

The one thing I’m certain we can all agree on, is that time is flying by way too quickly! Not sure if it’s an age thing, but definitely everyone in my circle has said this at least once in the past month.

My job has also seen me spending a great deal of time in local archives researching Queer History, so I’ve come to really appreciate the importance of documenting everything, telling our stories, and sharing our memories. Coupling this with how fast time is passing us all by, I’ve decided to write a monthly recap letter as a way of remembering and sharing the work that WLQP is doing.

We kicked off the New Year with a Kindred Power Brunch,  an idea that I got from when I was working for Vodacom in South Africa back in 1998. Once a month, before the working day started, staff were invited to a Power Breakfast, which was basically a buffet breakfast in a fancy hotel with a motivational speaker.

I always remember leaving these events feeling very uplifted and inspired, and so I wanted to curate something similar that would give others the same feeling, and this is how the Power Brunch idea came about.

Polly Shute of Out and Wild Festival and Outspoken Speakers moderated a panel discussion with Beth Sherman, a multiple Emmy-winning Hollywood comedy writer and Jonathan Phang, the much-loved presenter, broadcaster, food writer and cook, and it was brilliant!

I’m thrilled to say that not only will there be more Kindred Power Brunches this year, but we have also partnered with Kindred, as one of their official charity partners for 2024.  

“Kindred is an open house for West London. A space to gather for coworking, live events and exceptional food and drink.” Do check them out if you can

Pictured: Back Row, Joe Leonard of WLQP & Jonathan Phang - Front Row, Beth Sherman. Polly Shute and Aubrey Crawley at Kindred 06 January 2024.

January also saw us kick off our partnership with the Wellbeing and Recovery College,  the education arm of the NHS, with a series of mental health and wellbeing workshops.

The workshops were designed to be informative and interactive, but more importantly a way for the college and WLQP to draw ideas and inspiration from our members about how we can best connect our community with the college’s courses as well as other mental health and wellbeing services.

The workshops were all well-attended, and we received tremendous praise and gratitude, but most essentially, we were able to gather significant insight and understanding into the needs of our community.

Over the coming months, the college and I will be reviewing all this feedback to co-design new courses and come up with innovative, fun, and accessible ways of delivering mental health and wellness workshops.        

On a personal note, I wasn’t expecting some of the subjects that we covered to be so close to home, and it’s been a real eye opener to learn I’ve been neglecting my own mental health, and how out of balance I am.

I’ve therefore made a commitment to fixing this with the tips, tricks and tools (as Katy, our trainer would say) that were shared with us.

With February being LGBTQ+ History Month, I have spent a considerable amount of time in January finalising events celebrating this, and it was during this time that I came to realise, not only are we celebrating our history in February, but we will be making history too.

On Saturday the 10th of February, the West London Warriors and Pride in Touch, will be cementing in our new Partnership with Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club with a Touch Rugby Saturday Social. This will be the first time that Ealing Trailfinders will be officially partnering with an LGBTQ+ Sports Club.

The Warriors have been training at ETF on Saturday mornings since October last year, but this session on the 10th will be the first taster at ETF where members of the public will be invited to take part. Why don’t you come along and try it out too?

To register for this taster session, please go to our events page.

If that wasn’t enough, February is also Football v Homophobia Month of Action, and to highlight this, on the 24th of February WLQP will be hosting a Festival of Football at Grasshoppers RFC in Isleworth.

This will be a day tournament of 6-a-side matches between local football clubs and community groups, and even the NHS and the Met Police will have teams taking part. There will also be some keynote speakers, a prizegiving and a social thereafter.

It’s with almost disbelief that I can also finally share some very exciting news with you; Brentford, Chelsea, Fulham and QPR Football Clubs have all agreed to partner with WLQP on this on this very important event, and obviously my mind is blown!

I had been trying for some time to get the 4 clubs into a meeting to present them with the idea of joining forces for Football v Homophobia Month and the Festival of Football, and this meeting finally took place in the first week of January.

When we first started doing touch rugby almost two years ago, people were always very open to the idea trying it out, however, whenever I mention football, there’s usually a hesitation and a “no thanks”.

I’ve always been aware of the homophobia in football, but I was not aware of how deep-seated it was with so many people and why this was the reason for their disdain or lack of interest in the game.

With the Festival of Football, I don’t want to focus on the homophobia, but rather the joy of our community coming together and taking part in a team sport in a very positive and visible way. Afterall, visibility leads to acceptance.

Further details will be published closer to the time.

I remember back to the lockdown summer of 2020, when WLQP was still in its infancy and our only offering was the Sunday Socials in the garden at the Queen’s Head in Chiswick. I shouldn’t say only because I know how meaningful they were to a lot of people, and how many friendship circles were formed because of them.

This was also a very pivotal moment for me because it was at these socials that I got to appreciate how important spaces and opportunities for our community are, and it was at this time that I thought “Hmm, this is a project…”.

As it turns out, I was back to the Queen’s Head last night for a farewell dinner for my friend Junior who’s moving to Australia. I met Junior at one of the Sunday Socials in 2020 and he has played a very important role in WLQP’s journey in the last 3 years.

Joe and I hope to see you at one of our events in February, and happy LGBTQ+ History Month, everyone!


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