This year marks the first time that all colleges have committed to the principle of flying a pride flagAmy Howell

30 Cambridge colleges, as well as the University Library and the Old Schools Site, are flying an LGBT+ flag during February for LGBT History Month.

Magdalene College is the only college not flying a flag this year, which is the result of a broken flagpole, Magdalene JCR told Varsity. The College has flown a flag in recent years, meaning that 2021 is the first year in which all colleges have committed in principle to flying an LGBT+ flag.

Some colleges, including Girton and Newnham, will be flying a flag continuously throughout the month.

Meanwhile other colleges, including Emmanuel, Fitzwilliam and Clare, will only fly a flag on certain days at the beginning and end of the month.

This follows an incident last year in which two Clare students raised the flag themselves in protest against the College senior leadership’s refusal to fly it.

Instead of the standard six-colour rainbow flag, the Progress flag is being flown by a number of colleges, including Girton, Wolfson, Gonville and Caius and Churchill. The Progress flag was created in 2018 by American graphic designer Daniel Quasar, and incorporates arrow-shaped colours to represent the transgender community and LGBT+ people of colour.

David Sánchez García, LGBTQ+ Officer for Wolfson College Students' Association, told Varsity that the additional colours of the Progress flag are “important […] in the current context, given the big level of mobilization but also social and legal backlash that members of these groups are facing in the UK and worldwide - and I would speak perhaps particularly of the spike of transphobia in the UK.”

A spokesperson for Cambridge SU LGBT+ Campaign told Varsity: “A college flying the pride flag only has as much significance as the college is willing to prove through its actions. Those that do fly the pride flag do so because of hard work and pressure from student representatives at the college, so the flag doesn't speak to whether the college actually supports its LGBT+ students.”

They referenced the Cam SU Care+ initiative, launched this month, which lists a number of ways colleges can improve provisions for LGBT+ students.

An LGBT flag is also flying over the central administrative buildings on the Old School Sites, having been flown there in 2020 for the first time.

In addition to the flying of pride flags, both the University and individual colleges have organised various events to celebrate LGBT+ History Month. 

Across the University there will be “talks, film nights and book clubs [which] will explore the experiences of the LGBT+ community, discuss significant moments in queer history and honour those who have worked to promote equality and diversity.”

These will include the Department of Archaeology’s annual “Queer(y)ing the Past” event which features several short talks on the topics of sexuality and gender in the past. 

In light of the Channel 4 drama It’s a Sin, depiciting the lives of a group of gay men at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Dr. Richard McKay from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and PhD student George Severs will discuss “gay men’s sexual health in the decades running up to the emergence of the disease” and the rise of HIV/IDSs related activism. 

There will also be a LGBT+ Staff Network History Month Film night in which staff will be watching short films from the Iris Prize, LGBT+ film festival, followed by a Zoom discussion.

Additionally, individual colleges have also organised a variety of events. The Christ’s College LGBT+ Society and the Christ’s Seeley Society are hosting a talk with Cheryl Morgan, who will look at a play, ancient texts and archaeology to examine how gender and sexuality have changed over time. 

St. John’s will be running a series of talks, with the first one entitled “Does God Hate Queers?”

Wolfson will also be flying the transgender flag on 17th February when they are planning to host a virtual talk with Rico Chase, director of TransActual UK, about trans lives in British history. They have also confirmed three more talks throughout the month. 


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Liberty Beswick, LGBT+ Officer at King’s, has told Varsity that she has been sending weekly emails to undergraduates “with information on queer history and notable figures, which will continue this month.” Similarly, Ted Kehoe at Selwyn is sending out an email detailing various events and figures in the LGBTQ+ liberation movement, “especially with a focus on how it’s always been an intersectional movement.” 

At Clare, students have written short pieces “about queer historical figures/figures that they are interested in” which will posted throughout the month. There is also a queer music playlist put together by the Clare LGBT+ community.

In light of LGBT+ History Month, Trinity have also announced the creation of a gender expression fund which will allow the Trinity College Students’ Union (TCSU) and the LGBT+ officers to “purchase items on behalf of students to help alleviate dysphoria and allow them to feel comfortable in their gender expression.” These items can cost up to £80 per student. 

A number of colleges have introduced gender expression funds over the past two years, including Christ's, Girton, Robinson, and Clare.

Multiple colleges are also planning to host virtual social events and welfare chats, some of which are inter-collegiate. Jordan Gerardy at St Edmund’s told Varsity that “this year the cross-College engagement has been inspiring and a real benefit to help link together LGBTQ+ identifying individuals across the whole of the University.” He added that he hopes this “trend continues [in] post-Covid times as well.”

Members of staff have also taken part in celebrations. Dr Diarmuid Hester, who is a fellow at Emmanuel, has created a “free queer audio trail of Cambridge” called A Great Recorded History. In it, he interviews residents, explores queer spaces in the city and honours reknowned queer Cambridge alumni like EM Forster and Edward Carpenter. 

Frankie Kendal at Clare also pointed out that they thought LGBT+ History Month was especially important “for all queer people to remember the persecution we have faced throughout time and that this is no different. We need everyone to come together and fight for our trans and non-binary community who are being attacked purely for existing in this world, despite the historical proof that gender non-conforming people are as old as everyone else.”