UK (Ulster University) Ulster University celebrates Pride festivals across campuses this summer

Ulster University has teamed up with the Belfast and Foyle Pride festivals to host events at its Belfast and Derry~Londonderry campuses to promote LGBT+ inclusion, led by university staff and students.

The University has partnered with the Belfast Pride Festival to offer an amazing viewing gallery of the parade as it turns onto Royal Avenue. On Saturday 29 July, the Belfast campus will open its doors and offer ‘a room with a view’ for people with additional access requirements, and particularly for neurodivergent individuals who would like to see the parade from a quieter area. The University’s Staff Disability Network will be providing complimentary refreshments to those that will be using the space, so no one misses out on the fun. Booking essential, click here.

As well as the viewing gallery, the campus, will be a starting point for colleagues, students, alumni, family, friends and allies who want to join the parade at Custom House Square, behind the University banner: ‘Diverse – Equal – Proud’. Join us from 10.45am and enjoy some light refreshments and music, while browsing the LGBT+ themed art exhibition ‘Through the Lens’, organised by the University’s Schools’ Outreach team and the LGBT+ Staff Network. The Belfast campus will be lit up over the weekend with rainbow colours in celebration of the LGBT+ community.

In the week leading up to the parade, Pride-related activities got underway with a Polari workshop on Monday 24 July on the University’s Belfast campus, hosted in partnership with Belfast Pride. Polari is slang which was used by the gay subculture to avoid imprisonment when homosexuality was still illegal. The workshop was delivered by Dr Lee Campbell, an artist, performance poet, experimental filmmaker, writer and Senior Lecturer at University of the Arts London.

On Thursday 27 July, Dr Victoria McCollum will lead an Inclusion Hour online: ‘Hidden Histories of Queer Love, Sex and Relationships Before the Liberation in NI’, and later that day, the Belfast campus will host a banner making session ahead of the Belfast Pride parade. Ulster University will provide paint, banner material and brushes – everything needed to make a placard or banner for the parade. Everyone is welcome to come along and get creative in a comfortable and supportive space.

Celebrating Pride in the Northwest

The University will host the launch of the Foyle Pride Programme on Tuesday 1 August, and attend the North Coast’s Pride Parade on Saturday 5 August, to show solidarity with the LGBT+ community across the Northwest.

As part of a wide variety of events, Ulster University is proud to host a film premiere on Thursday 24 August with the screening of a short Irish language film Different (subtitled in English) by film maker and recent BSc Cinematic Arts graduate of the University, John Farrelly. The film, which has been selected for Screen Ireland’s Feature Film Development Fund, is set in the 1980’s in the West of Ireland, a time and place where homosexuality is frowned upon.

Finishing off events in the North West, colleagues, students and friends of the University will assemble from 1pm at Waterside Railway Station, to join the Foyle Pride Parade on Saturday 26 August.

Commenting on the University’s plans for Pride 2023, Provost Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan said:

“We are delighted to be teaming up with Belfast and Foyle Pride festivals this year to show our support and solidarity to the LGBT+ community and are looking forward to hosting Pride-themed events across the summer.

“We are inviting our colleagues, current students, alumni, and family and friends to campus so they can get involved in the activities and share in the joy that is celebrating LGBT+ Pride. At Ulster University, we embrace diversity and celebrate unity and we hope everyone has an enjoyable time at Belfast and Foyle Pride this summer.”

Spotlight on LGBT+ research

A number of inspiring and exciting LGBT+ research projects are underway at Ulster University, spanning queer history in art, gay identity formation through photography, LGBT+ youth and mental health to drug use in the LGBTQ+ community:

  • Dr Joseph McBrinn is an Irish art historian who writes about queer history in art and design. He has published extensively on the intersecting global histories of masculinity, disability and the queer in modern art and design.  His most recent book, Queering the Subversive Stitch: Men and the Culture of Needlework, was published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts in 2021.
  • Dr Victoria McCollum has published several books on popular culture, and how it shapes and is shaped by ideology, including ideologies about sex, gender, and sexuality. Her latest article explores how LGBTQ+ short filmmakers can tap into powerful personal experiences to tell important stories that advance queer representation.
  • Dr Gail Neill researches youth, gender and sexualities and specialises in participatory research with young people and in using research for awareness raising and public engagement. She has co-produced several resources including: ‘The L-Pack’ (a sexual health resource for young women); ‘OUTstanding Youth Work’ (a training resource for youth work practitioners); and various multi-media outputs to profile the voices and experiences of LGBTQ+ young women in N. Ireland.
  • John Post is a PhD researcher in the Belfast School of Art. His work considers how photography’s modern ubiquity plays a role in directing gay identity formation and transformed the way in which homosexuality is conducted. Through this intersectionality, his research aims to reveal how societies in the Global North have positioned the gay man as the ordinary way to be queer and highlight the potential consequences this may have on the gay male persona, the wider LGBTQ+ community, and the photographic medium itself.
  • Dr Nicole Hamilton is a researcher in literature and film in the School of Arts and Humanities. Her research explores queer representation in Young Adult fantasy fiction, focusing on themes of visibility, monstrosity, and fandom.
  • Emma Wallace’s doctoral research is focused on ‘Queering Suicide Prevention’, which is mixed-methods research exploring the mental health needs, suicidality and lived experiences of LGBTQ+ young adults here in Northern Ireland. Her research interests include suicide prevention, mental health, the intersection of trauma and identity, minority stress, help seeking, critical suicide theory, queer theory, and intersectionality.
  • Jessica Spratt is a PhD researcher in the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences. Her PhD research is an investigation into drug use among members of the LGBTQ+ communities in Northern Ireland, considering the negotiation of risk and enhancement theories. Jessica was awarded a NINE DTP studentship from the ESRC for her research, and it is in collaboration with The Rainbow Project and The Department of Health.
  • Sveto Manev is completing a PhD in Creative Writing. His novel, The Half-Made Man, examines the intersections of myth, gender (as well as gender-based violence), and queer (male) sexuality in contemporary fantasy literature. His most recent article is titled, ‘Queerpunk: A Speculation on (Sub-)Genre Formation’.
  • Sarah Murray is completing a PhD in Creative Writing. She is adapting British and Irish myths using magical realism to examine identity. This includes explorations of gender, sexuality, race and disability in a modern setting.
  • Frankie Bradley is a creative writing researcher focusing on decolonisation in speculative fiction. Their thesis aims to be a novel that subverts colonialist tropes and explores dismantling imperialist regimes through their narrative. Chloe Austin’s PhD brings together formerly overlooked archival studies, typographic history, and queer theory to explore embodied and ephemeral interventions with text-based communication on the island of Ireland. This study examines the ways in which the queer community has used printed materials to perform in social contexts through engaging in artistic archival interventions.

The University has set up a new website for all things Pride-related – further information on events and activities will be updated here.