Happier Holidays - Meet the LGBT+ Network Chair

With the holidays near, I chatted to the lovely Nura Alyah, the Chair of the LGBT+ Network. I got to hear what the holidays can be like for members of the LGBT+ community, and what the network's Happier Holidays campaign is all about. 

Hi Nura! Thanks for taking time out of your day to come chat and answer some questions, firstly, what is the LGBT+ Network?

“Hello! The LGBT+ Network is one of 13 Networks the SU has set up to represent students of all sorts! We cover the interests of any student that self-identifies as LGBT+, and do things like run campaigns, host socials, and attend about a billion meetings with the SU and the Uni to make sure LGBT+ students voices get heard.“


I hear you have a campaign at the moment called Happier Holidays, what is it for?

“It’s aims are two-fold: first and foremost, we want LGBT students to know that they’re supported regardless of their identity - even if home isn’t great, there are people in Bristol that are here for you. We also want to make sure non-LGBT students know that this is an issue LGBT students are facing! You might not even think to consider it, but checking up on LGBT friends who may be struggling can mean the world to them.”


Why are the holidays sometimes harder for those who are LGBT+?

“The fact of the matter is that homophobia and transphobia is still a huge thing, and even if family members mean well, they can be really hurtful (not even mentioning the overtly homophobic people in the world). I really struggled my first Christmas of uni, not because my family was in any way unsupportive, but because I got used to being very loud and open about my sexuality, but home was the exact opposite.“


How will this campaign offer support to these students?

“We’re publicising the fact that there’s lots going on over the holidays run by the SU and the university, in case you’re not at all able to go back home. But, for those who are going home, we have some discrete helpline cards to have on you in case you need to talk things out, as well as to just remember that there’s a community back in Bristol for you to come back to.“


Do you have any advice on how to support a friend who is LGBT+ this time of year?

“Check up on them! Sometimes just asking, ‘Hey, how is home going? Do you need to rant about it?’ can do wonders. And then, if they do rant, just listen and lend an ear. If they don’t want to, that’s also fine - but remind them that you’re there for them if they ever change their mind.“


Any advice for anyone LGBT+ who may need support this time of year?

“You are so loved <3 There are so many student groups at Bristol for LGBT students, plus others local ones. If you need help or a friend, please don’t feel afraid to reach out - there are so many people who understand and want to help, especially at Bristol SU.“


Finally, are there opportunities for people to get more involved in the LGBT+ Network in the future?

“Well, this is only our first big campaign, and doesn’t even consider LGBT+ History month in February. Keep an eye out on the SU website, our Facebook group, and our Twitter to find out what we get up to! :) “


For more information on the Happier Holidays campaign, check out the Bristol SU website by clicking the link here.

If anyone wishes to pick up a card, you can get them at the Bristol SU office or from Student Counselling.