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Ant Brewerton

Name: Ant Brewerton.

Role: Head of Academic Services in the Library.


How would you describe yourself in terms of the LGBTQUA+ community?

I would describe myself as a gay man.

How would you describe your journey?

I am now in my mid-fifties. Growing up ‘Queer’ in the ‘eighties (when I suppose I first really identified myself that way) wasn’t easy. There were no positive role models on TV, the press was generally hostile and you had a Government promoting Clause 28 (preventing the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities) and pouring scorn on ‘pretend families’. Abuse in the street was relatively commonplace and there was the fear that if someone started something others wouldn’t come to your defence but would join in. Being out was difficult in the workplace. Homophobia could be subtle: I was repeatedly asked in the informal element of a job interview why I was wearing a vibrant fuchsia pink shirt (I didn’t get the job!). Sometimes it was not subtle at all – I was told after leaving one job that some of the staff thought that instead of having a fairy on the top of the Christmas tree they should have me. (This was in another university in the 1990s.) As the years have progressed things have become easier and I have become braver - I have taken each job change as an opportunity to be more out. The world still feels heteronormative (and I occasionally get asked at work what my ‘wife’ does rather than my ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’) but in the right circumstances such questions can lead to friendly and constructive conversations.

What advice would you give your younger self?

This is difficult as my younger self (obviously) grew up in a different time and context but I would probably say ‘be your authentic self’. Coming out is very difficult and is an on-going process – you don’t just come out once. And you sometimes have to consider ‘how out do I want to be?’ in a particular situation. But when I have really been myself the results have sometimes been tremendous. I once had a member of staff who told me her son had just come out. She said her husband (who was serving in the army at a time when the forces were less LGBT+ friendly) found this less difficult because he had got to know me and my partner and realised that (despite what he had been exposed to often in the media) gay people could lead ‘normal’ happy lives. [I am getting slightly emotional as I type this!].

How long have you been at Warwick and in what context?

I joined the University in 2006 and I am the Head of Academic Services in the Library. I am responsible for the teams that work directly with the Warwick community. This includes the Academic Support Librarians, the Community Engagement Teams and the Modern Records Centre team. They work directly with their communities and have produced support and resources aimed directly at the LGBTQUA+ community (see examples below).

How are you active in the LGBTQUA+ community at Warwick?

Warwick is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and has submitted to the UK Workplace Equality Index for a number of years. In the 2020 Index we ranked 123 out of 500 institutions. I now Chair the Stonewall Self-Assessment Team that helps puts the submission together – working very closely with Claire Algar who does all the hard work!

I also chair ‘rainbow meetings’ of the University’s ED&I Champions. These meetings help ED&I colleagues to spread news across the network and enable members to share good practice in LGBTQUA+ inclusion and learn from other departments. We also use this as an opportunity to identify progress that can be used as evidence in the Stonewall submission.

I am a member of the Rainbow Taskforce which does sterling work to move forward the University’s agenda on LGBTQUA+ issues

In a wider context, I am on the University’s Social Inclusion Committee, am active in promoting Dignity at Work, and I designed the University’s new ED&I Award trophy.

What is good about being LGBTQUA+ at Warwick?

Warwick is the most open and welcoming place in which I have worked. I am properly out at Warwick. I feel I am able to be myself with my manager, my team and those I work with across the University. ED&I is taken very seriously at Warwick and the LGBTQUA+ community seems large and is very visible and active.

What could/should be improved?

We all of us still have a lot to learn. I am the G (and Q) bit of LGBTQUA+ but there is a lot more I can learn about the lived experiences of other members of our community. Working with ED&I Champions, I know colleagues are sometimes afraid of getting it wrong and asking the wrong questions. But this desire to learn is coming from a good place and we need to have more brave conversations. And that extends to all protected characteristics.

Are there any LGBTQUA+ resources you would recommend to colleagues?

One of the good things about Warwick is that there are lots of resources to support members of the community.

If we should all be learning more (as I suggest) a good place to start is the University’s Getting Started pagesLink opens in a new window and the ever-growing Queering University pagesLink opens in a new window.

From the Library, we have recently put together some pages on how we have been Diversifying our CollectionsLink opens in a new window which includes MRC displays for LGBT+ History Month as well as our Stonewall 50 reading list, a Trans and Queer Pedagogy resource list and a student-curated Diversity reading list.

If you check out the Library Catalogue you will find hundreds of books on LGBT+ history and politics and a fine array of authors from our community. We have some great electronic resources (such as the ‘LGBT Magazine Archive’ – you can lose hours here!) and if you want to see how the community has been portrayed and reported on TV over the years don’t forget the wonderful ‘Box of Broadcasts’.

If you want to learn more about the ‘lived experience’ of others, I would recommend the Library’s ‘Human LibraryLink opens in a new window’ events.