So it’s #LGBTSTEMDay… so what?

Maybe they’re born with it. (Photo from Unsplash)

This is the first LGBTSTEMDay — that’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. A few more letters than a three letter acronym, and a few more thoughts than the usual.

I’m in STEM, so what?

What makes us us whole remains important, whether you are in or out — gay or straight — or just a collection of the above.

Today is a chance to embrace diversity and to support people being people. Ultimately, we can support the humanity that drives us. If you think: “STEM should be just about STEM” — just remind yourself how lucky you are to think this.

Life gets in the way. Life drives our journey. If we forget that, what’s the point in advancing our understanding?

Some people are gay, get over it. I’m gay, and that matters to me. (Phew — that’s exhausting to write.) It affects many of my thoughts and keeps my brain more busy than I’d like it to.

I also happen to be reasonable at Engineering & Science, and some of that makes it into Tech (with the odd Maths calculation from time to time).

For the wider STEM community, there is significant evidence to suggest that LGBTQ+ individuals have significant difficulties in their professional lives — you can find evidence here, and here, and here. Have a read, find out more.

Ultimately, if this doesn’t matter to ‘you’ then you can support your friends & colleagues, and let them get on with their things.

I’m LGBTQ+, so what?

Pride is a celebration, Pride is a protest. The intersectionality of our story remains important. (photo from Unsplash)

STEM is drives us forward. It lives in the engine room of our curiosity. It lives as part of our humanity. The simple fact that you are reading this post on your tablet/smartphone/laptop/desktop/printout-that-your-family-member-gave-you is evidence of the power of STEM to influence our everyday lives.

As people (in STEM), we like helping further our understanding of STEM. We hope that you enjoy the fruits of our efforts.

Life is tough — lets share, build and make that easier

Pride in STEM at Pride 2016

LGBTSTEMDay was the brainchild of a good friend and inspiration of mine. Dr Alfredo Carpineti has been an inspiration and influence for so many people, myself included, as an individual who just wants to get on and rock his life and to help others rock theirs. He has recognised the importance of sharing that there are many people who identify as LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and so much more) and that this identity can hamper individuals to progress in their lives, especially in STEM, because of personal and interpersonal prejudice, concern and stress — just because of who they are. Hopefully LGBTSTEMDay can push us all forward.

Dr Alfredo Carpineti (left) and his awesome husband Chris (right) at Pride 2017

Recognising the importance of our identity has been an increasing priority for my life, especially as I have the privilege to become ‘sorted’ professionally as an engineer and scientist in the UK and beyond.

In practice, I’m not that sorted (just meet me). Yet in the spirit of incrementalist thinking, I’m incrementally getting better and a significant fraction of this growth has been through identifying that being a member of the LGBTQ+ community can be a strength. I can lean on my friends and colleagues to grow my identity and help me be a better person. In turn, I feel I should stand up and let others lean on me and understand how being LGBTQ+ can work as a professional in STEM.

There are so many people who are just dipping their toes into recognising their identity, let alone sharing it with others, or embracing this as part of their professional persona. I’m not pretending it’s an easy story, or it has been an easy journey thus far. It continues to trouble me, and to cause little ‘road blocks’ from time to time, but it is easier as I find more role-models and friends who I can share this journey with. Fingers crossed, I can find ever more peace with this story and share even more great great adventures.

Anyway, I’ll cut this post for now. There’s much more to share, and I’m sure I’ll manage it at some point. In the meantime, why not check out the awesome work of @prideinstem and find more stories from our community.

Pride in STEM at the ITV studios, in between photo shoots.

p.s. Hugs to those who I care about who I haven’t shared all of this with already. It’s a bit tough from time to time.


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You can head over to Twitter to follow Dr Ben Britton as @BMatB, or keep up to date with the group’s work via @ExpMicroMech. We can also be found over at http://www.expmicromech.com.