Name: Helen Knight
Role: CDT and PGT Administrative Officer, Department of Physics
How would you describe yourself in terms of the LGBTQUA+ community?
I would describe myself as a bisexual woman. I also sometimes use the term Queer.
How would you describe your journey?
Thankfully, my journey has been quite smooth. I came out quite late - in my mid thirties, and quite gradually. I was initially worried what people would say or that they might be sceptical, however I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of my friends weren't in fact surprised at all! Some people did question why I bothered to come out, as I was in a relationship with a man at the time. However, it's important for everyone to be their authentic selves. My bisexuality is a part of my identity and I want to embrace who I am.
What advice would you give your younger self?
This is quite a difficult question to answer in a few sentences as there is a lot I would love to tell myself or TRY and advise myself about. However, I was a stubborn teenager who thought she knew more than she actually did.... I'd tell her to recognise the power of language, challenge your own assumptions often and understand how important it is for everyone to be their true and authentic selves, including you.
How long have you been at Warwick and in what context?
I have worked at Warwick since 2004 in a variety of research and project-related roles across three faculties, and also on a cross-faculty project. I managed the Warwick-Laksh Programme as well, and set up placements for Warwick students at an educational NGO in rural India which was something I was deeply proud of. I am currently working in the Physics Department. Since January 2021 I have been in post as the Administrative Officer for the department's Centres for Doctoral Training in Diamond Science and Technology and the Modelling of Heterogeneous Systems. I've never worked in the Faculty of Science before - Physics is a fascinating place to work and really eye-opening! I am so pleased to be able to make positive contributions to our PhD student's journeys and do my bit help them along.
How are you active in the LGBTQUA+ community at Warwick?
I currently sit on the Rainbow Taskforce, which is group that works to move forward the University’s agenda on LGBTQUA+ issues and I am also a member of the Stonewall Self-Assessment Team (SAT). If you didn't know, Warwick a Stonewall Diversity Champion and has submitted to the UK Workplace Equality Index for a number of years and the Self-Assessment Team helps colleagues from ED&I put the submission together.
What is good about being LGBTQUA+ at Warwick?
I can be fully out and proud here, and I can get involved with work which directly addresses issues within my community alongside my full-time work. Physics have been really supportive of my work on the Rainbow Taskforce and the Stonewall SAT.
What could/should be improved?
Unfortunately, there are still quite a lot of assumptions made about bisexuality and bisexual people. Biphobia is very real as well, and sadly within the LGBTQUA+ community too. These inaccurate assumptions and biphobia can discourage people from coming out, meaning it can be quite a lonely place for bisexual people - imagine being met with comments such as "You're doing this for attention" or "Are you sure you're not just gay?" It is important for people to acknowledge that bisexuality is a legitimate orientation, and not just a lifestyle choice. If an individual is in a relationship with a person of a different gender to them it doesn't make them any "less" bisexual. Try not to make assumptions is my message here. Things are getting better, which is absolutely great - however the wheels of change move quite slowly and there is still a long way to go.
Are there any LGBTQUA+ resources you would recommend to colleagues?
The Bi Inclusion resources along with the other tools on the Getting Started webpages are a great place to start. For any Bisexual colleagues reading this I would highly recommend the book Purple Prose which has helped me tremendously. Joining networks is also incredibly helpful and a way of finding support on campus. There is the Staff network, Warwick SU Pride and Equitea, plus the Queering University webpages is an excellent resource and constantly being updated. Our allies can join the Supporters Scheme too which includes access to some training resources.