Name: Leonie Hodge Position: Anti-Harassment and Training Officer Pronouns: She/her
How long have you worked at the Uni? What does your role involve?
I have worked at the university since November 2020. I am Anti-Harassment and Training Officer, so I am looking at ways to make the University a more inclusive and safe space, to tackle issues including racism, sexism, homophobia and ablism. I look at campaigns, behavioural change programmes, and pledges people can take to really be the change. I also work with the policy department to see where gaps may be in policy.
What does it mean to you to be an LGBT+ ally?
It means a lot to me to be an ally. To me it means really listening to people’s different experiences and learning from them. I have personal experience as my older sister came out when we were teenagers, so I have seen some of the challenges she has faced; for example she was outed at work by a colleague when she was not ready to be out.
For me, it is really important in terms of human rights. I don’t know why some people get so homophobic or angry, I think as long as you are not hurting anyone, just accept people. I just want to help the cause and tackle those attitudes.
Why is LGBT+ history month important to allies?
I think it is so important for allies, as it makes us remember the pioneers who have come before who have fought so hard, and maybe did not have the support around them. In particular there has been a new TV show called “It’s a Sin” and it goes over the history around the cultural shift around HIV. I think it’s really important to see the history and how far we have come, but also how far we have not come. It’s good to measure against history, and be able to see that it’s not all achieved yet and we still have so far to go.
Why is LGBT+ history month important for universities to celebrate?
Its all about making sure people feel safe and included. It really sets expectations of attitudes and behaviours, if we say we are proud of what people have done in the past it sets a good expectation. People really start to understand more about what you can say, or what jokes are not acceptable for example. It makes people realise that this is being taken seriously.
Do you have a favourite LGBT+ film, book, or music?
I really like George Michael’s Faith. He had come from the typical boyband stereotyped background, but this was him stepping out of that. Also his song Let’s Go Outside, I love that, some of the lyrics of that are incredible. I miss George Michael, he was a really nice man, but for me that real culture change came when he really stood out and stepped forward.
If you could start your own dream business, what would it be?
It’s a charity not a business, and I’ve half set it up already. It is working with defence barristers in court to try and change their behaviours in court in terms of victim blaming. My dream job would be working to train up juries to not have unconscious bias, and understand what the victim has been through a lot more.
When are you happiest?
When things feel balanced in my life. I am one of those people who tends to go all out, and I have to work quite hard to find a balance! I feel happiest when I am connecting with my son, taking good self care, doing a bit of exercise, and eating well – I am really bad for snacking, but I feel happy to know at least I am trying to eat well! Just feeling connected and being able to be honest and open with people – for example even if you’re having a low day, being able to say that to someone is a good thing for me.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
I have to say I would like to meet Jesus! In the whole of history, what an incredible human being he has been. I would like to have a discussion with him to find out what was going on at that time. From what I understand a lot of his teachings were about kindness, tolerance and understanding. I would like to talk to him and find out how he sees the world now, and if he thinks those values are still there.