Tom William - Editor
Hi guys, my names Tom and I work as the social media and data manager for Fibre, Mission and Viaduct. In addition to this I also run Freedom Quarter, and have rebranded the whole digital platform after being commissioned to redesign the LGBT website for the Leeds community. My main value for this new platform is 'by the community & for the community', and I hope that the community will be able to benefit from the latest news and information featured throughout.
I've always had a passion for creativity and technology, even from a young age I consider myself to be a bit of a geek. I love everything that this great city of Leeds does, for both the community and the LGBT people too!
Rob Wilson - Food, LGBT+ & Community
Rob works as a project manager within the Communities team for Leeds City Council, with an area of focus including the support of city leaders on developing Leeds as an LGB T* inclusive city. In addition to this Rob chairs the Councils LGB T* Staff Network, and is involved in a voluntary capacity with West Yorkshire Police, Leeds Street Angels and Yorkshire MESMAC.
Having formerly been involved in a number of social networking groups in Leeds, he is now the chair of the Leeds Inclusive Sports project supporting the development and engagement of the LGB T* community with active lifestyle opportunities. As part of this Rob chairs The Leeds Hunters RUFC, The Bad Mittens and The Pink Ping Pong Pals sport groups.
Andrew Smith - Law
Blacks Solicitors LLP is a firm of solicitors in Leeds, providing legal services to clients throughout Yorkshire and the UK. We specialise in family law, wills and probate, commercial, sport, property and a wide range of other private client and business law issues.
Blacks is featured as a leading firm in the Legal 500 and we were recent winners of the Law Firm Award (11 – 30 partners) in the 2016 Yorkshire Legal Awards. We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service and we are actively involved in the promotion of services to the LGBT community in Leeds.
Our columnists will provide legal advice on topical issues facing the LGBT community and give guidance and insight as to your best course of action on a wide spectrum of matters.
Emily - LGBT+
Emily is a bisexual activist living in Leeds. She set up and has been running Leeds Bi Group (a social/support group for people attracted to more than one gender) since 2014
She also works closely with other groups and organisations such as Leeds City Council, Touchstone and Trans Leeds, leads the bi+ sub group for the Leeds City Council LGB&T* Community Hub and from time to time writes pieces for the bi-monthly publications Bi Community News.
Johnny Clarke - Fashion
My names Johnny, I'm 23 and I dress mannequins for a living. Sound like i'm on Blind Date! I studied Fashion Design at Leeds Art college and had a strong passion for the world of Menswear ever since i was little.
Being the Creative Pisces type has it's plus points. For the past 3 years i ran my own online menswear magazine with a huge instagram following and interest.
I hosted my London Fashion Week Mens parties and events as well as attending shows of huge Designers such as Bobby Abley, KTZ, Paul Smith and SIBLING to name but a few! So my passion now is to bring and showcase the real and true Fashion world to GayLeeds! So watch out...
Jordan Small - Arts & Entertainment
Leeds based Project Manager and creator of club night BE LGBTQ, R’n’B With Edges at Queens Court which is for everyone yet focuses on the LGBTQ community. We play New & Classic R’n’B blended with Soul, Disco, House, Pop, Rap, Dance Hall and more!
Welcome to my new monthly column which will be a hub for reviews of songs, albums, films, nights out, gigs and so forth. If it's something that'll potentially keep you and I entertained I’ll do my best to see or hear it and let you know if it’s worth your time and money.
Everything gets reviewed out of 10 and If you think there’s something I need to review drop me message and let’s do this!
Jack Mac - Sports
Jack is the current editor of the Leeds LGBT* Sports Newsletter as well as the Recruitment Officer for Yorkshire Terriers FC, Yorkshire’s only LGBT* football team.
He has always had a passion for sport and has tried a lot of them! From Tchoukball (google it, you’ll love it!!) to more orthodox sports like Football and Rugby his columns will mostly be about how you and people from the Leeds LGBT*community can get involved in local sports teams and groups! Jack will also be promoting the various, potentially unexpected benefits everyone can gain from paying more attention to their health and fitness, it can give you so much more than just getting fitter and losing weight!
So get reading and if you feel inspired by any of the articles, make sure you get involved with the LGBT* inclusive sports teams/clubs that are based in and around Leeds!
Kieran Ferdinand - LGBT+ BME &/or Faith in the community
25, University of Leeds graduate, currently working at Leeds City Council. Alongside my ‘day job’, I am currently working with the Chief Officer for Communities, Shaid Mahmood, on a project that explores ‘Multiple Identities’- specifically, LGB or T* and/or BME/Faith (acronym galore right there).
Identities have always interested me; as someone who has lived experience of identifying as LGBT*, BME and also coming from a family of faith, it was almost inevitable that I’d explore this area further. There remains today a succinct lack of visible BME LGB&T* role models for our community to draw inspiration from, and there also exists a conflict between faith and sexuality/gender identity for people across the globe. For me, it is crucial we do all we can to create harmony on all of these fronts.
So, what will I blog about? I’ll be providing updates on the work of the project that is looking at the needs of our communities here in Leeds, but also writing on anything else related to the unique experience of identifying as a BME/FaithLGB or T* person. This way, we can truly celebrate the rich diversity that makes up the Leeds Freedom Quarter.
Cllr James Lewis - Leeds City Council
Hi I’m James Lewis, I’m a Labour Councillor for Kippax & Methley ward, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council, Executive Board Member with the Resources, Strategy and Sport portfolio and I am proud to be the Council’s LGBT* community champion.
I’m really excited at the launch of the ‘The Freedom Quarter’ as Leeds aims to be a fully inclusive city with people, businesses and organisations working in partnership to make this happen. Our aim as a council is to see a ‘Strong Economy and a Compassionate City’ and the Freedom Quarter supports this objective and is a real celebration and representation of diversity for everyone in Leeds which includes all expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity. I am pleased to see the ‘Freedom Quarter’ website will feature contributions from the whole LGB T* community.
The fantastic new ‘Rainbow Bridge’ is a great example of the partnership between the community and the Council and partners Network Rail, the first of its kind in the UK. Other people may be building walls but here in Leeds we are painting bridges.
David Goulding - Sports & Music
22, is a chemistry graduate from Cambridge University currently studying at the University of Leeds for a Masters in Colourants, Polymers and Fine Chemicals. With no prior experience to rugby and having only moved to the city in September, David was one of the first members to join the Leeds Hunters back in November and since has enjoyed training with the ever growing club. He has also recently taken on the role of the club’s secretary, hoping to get more involved in the organisation and running of Leeds Hunters.
With previous experience in student radio and performing at local open mic nights before moving to Leeds, David is hoping to get more involved in the city’s rich music scene. Alongside that, he is also working on setting up an online shop for his home printed t-shirts and handmade accessories which he is currently in the process of designing. Until then though, David will most likely be found training on the weekends with the Hunters or spending too much money on tea and cake.
Emma Simpson - Trans Identity
Emma Simpson is a trans non-binary activist, facilitator and trainer based in North Yorkshire. A graduate of the University of Leeds in 2015, Emma has been part of global justice and social rights movements in the North of England for the past 6 years. After half a decade in the third and public sectors, Emma launched their training and consultancy business, Simpson Training (http://www.simpsontraining.org/), last year.
They now spend their time running between locations across the UK, talking to people about trans identities and helping organisations to be better allies. Emma is most often found at protests, crouched over Twitter or lying awake at night thinking about what gender even is.
Emma's ambition is to turn awareness into action: taking the public's widening knowledge of what it is to be trans and transforming it into allyship that uses its voice to support and empower trans people. Talk to Emma about transness on @simpsontraining on Twitter and follow their never ending adventure to pet as many dogs as possible
Ryan Thompson - Arts & Entertainment/Trans*
Ryan Thompson is a non-binary queer artist, curator and writer based in Leeds. They have been a fixture of the Leeds art scene since 2010. Ryan has exhibited and performed at places such as Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, Live Art Bistro and The Rag Factory - London. They were shortlisted for Vantage Art Prize 2013 and SLAP moves Prize 2014.
Ryan can often be found propping the bar up at exhibition openings or at Wharf Chambers and is usually in the middle of curating an exhibition, such their 2016 project Planetine or their 2017 project Queerology - celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England.
Leeds has a vibrant art scene with a wealth of wonderfully creative talent, including many amazing LGBTQ+ artists. Whether it’s serious sculpture exhibitions or freaky and fun performance art, Ryan sees it all and loves to tell you all about it.
Phil Oldershaw - Brands, Food, Arts & Entertainment
Phil Oldershaw is a man of many talents, primarily his operational skills within multiple venues in our Freedom Quarter. He has a wide knowledge of events, brands, marketing, presenting and more. Phil has been living in Leeds for nearly 2 years now, and he will be blogging about pretty much anything that he see's as interesting, watch this space.
Eleanor Broadbent - LGBT+
Hi I’m Eleanor and I’ve been living and working in Leeds since I came here as a student in 2009 and after nearly eight years I can say that I know Leeds and I know a lot of people!
I’m a Zumba enthusiast, a vegan and a cat-lady. Women give me strength and I like to put my energy back in to the community. I’ll be writing about all things lesbian, bisexual and queer in the city that matter to us – high-brow, low-brow and eyebrows. I’ll be joined by fierce guest writers to zap you with Sapphic feminist vibes.
Angela Williams - Community & Engagement
My name is Angela Williams, and I am currently a Temporary Assistant Chief Constable at West Yorkshire Police. I now have 25 years' service across the force including being District Commander at Bradford, Airedale and latterly Calderdale Districts, and in a wide array of departments. I have a strong sense of loyalty to both the area and the residents of West Yorkshire, having been born and brought up in Bradford and now living in Leeds and as such am passionate and care dearly about our local communities and what serves in their best interests.
I am currently the West Yorkshire Police lead on Neighbourhood Policing, looking at the ways to bring communities together and responsibility for overseeing the Criminal Justice process ensuring that victims and witnesses are supported from the beginning of the criminal justice journey to the end. Alongside this, I am the Force Lead on hate crime looking at additional ways to support victims, target offenders and crucially ensure that these matters are reported. It's important for people to remember that being who you are is not a crime, but being targeted because of race, sexual orientation, religion disability or gender can be.
My colleagues and I are only too aware as to the devastating consequences being victim of either hate crime or incident can be and that whilst there have historically been misconceptions that victims may not be taken seriously or indeed listened to, I would like to encourage all victims of this type of offence to ensure that it is reported. We have specially trained officers on hand who can support victims of hate crime and we will continue to do all we can to help people have confidence in reporting hate crime and hate incidents.
If you don't feel that you can turn to the Police, then you can also turn to one of our partner agencies to report it. This information will then get fed back and allows us to gain a true picture of what is happening out in the communities we serve, and be in the best position to tackle it.
The important thing is that we get to find out what is going on. Those who are subject to these type of offences are not alone, and should be assured that West Yorkshire Police are working in conjunction with out partner agencies to eradicate hate in any form within the communities. The actions of those involved will not be tolerated.
Bev Adams - Community & Engagement
I’m Beverley Adams, Principal Community Engagement Officer for West Yorkshire Police. I was born and brought up in Armley in Leeds and I’ve worked for the Police for just over 13 years now in a civilian role and have seen many positive changes in that time.
There are three things I am passionate about; people, inclusion and equality. I work closely with communities and strategic partners to make changes that benefit the public and I am blessed to work with so many inspiring, challenging and caring people from our communities.