Two of the first winners of a new LGBTQ+ scholarship inspired a packed audience at the launch of De Montfort University’s #DMUPride celebration.
Adam Choufi and Mercy Nduku were selected from more than 120 applicants for the positions, open to postgraduates looking to advocate LGBTQ+ rights and helping DMU become a safer, more inclusive space.
And in front of a busy audience at the university’s Campus Centre, they took to the stage to help mark the start of #DMUPride – a series of cultural events to mark LGBTQ+ History Month.
Adam, studying MSc Mechatronics, spoke about the difficulties of growing up gay in his home country of Lebanon – and how different he finds the culture at DMU.
He said: “In Lebanon, and more so in other countries in the Middle East, being gay is punishable by law. You have to hide it, it’s not as free as in the UK, the scene is more underground and people don’t talk about it openly.
“There are some free spaces in Lebanon like in Beirut, and there are efforts being made to make it more open, but there’s very little progress.
“Coming to the UK, I was shocked - in a good way that is. I like it; now I get to be in a country where you can be who you are without getting judged, you can walk down the street and no one cares.”
SEE THE FULL #DMUPRIDE PROGRAMME
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE LGBTQ+ SCHOLARSHIP
Rachel Clarke, who is DMU's equality and diversity coordinator and a member of the #DMUPride planning committee, grew up in Leicestershire and came out in sixth form.
She said: “It’s been absolutely fine for me, half my family is queer and really liberal so I’m really lucky I have had nothing but support. I want other people to have that same experience.
“I am so stoked about the events we have for this year’s #DMUPride – one of my many highlights is will be seeing Sarah Keyworth, and there’s the Pride café for any students who want to come along and meet members of the LGBTQ society and staff.”
Over the next few week, the packed #DMUPride programme will see talks given by leading campaigners for LGBTQ+ rights, including transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf and non-binary dancer Shiva Raichandani.
DMU is taking the events across the city, with film screenings at Phoenix and performances at Curve, along with talks at LCB Depot.
Posted on Tuesday 5th February 2019