Author: Army LGBT+ Forum

Handover of the Army LGBT+ Forum Chair

Handover of the Army LGBT+ Forum Chair

A message from Maj Rob Ridley, our outgoing Forum Chair…

Rob Ridley & Jamie CarrAfter six years on the Army Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Forum Committee, initially as Media Rep to Major Damian Jenkins RAMC, Vice Chair to WO1 Karen Styles AGC(SPS), and two years as Chair; it is time to hand over leadership in order to maintain the Forum’s momentum and exploit fresh ideas and direction.  I look forward to seeing the Forum continue to evolve and innovate in delivery of the, still essential, advice and support it provides to Army Headquarters, unit commanders and individual personnel under the leadership of Captain Jamie Carrahar AGC(ETS), the core Forum Committee and growing network of Regional Leads and sub-groups.

All those involved with the Forum; ChampionsArmy Headquarters Diversity StaffCommittee members, wider community of personnel identifying as LGBT+ and our Allies, can be rightly proud of what has been collectively achieved since the small, discreet, enthusiastic origins of the Forum, to the professional team of today.  Whether it is the lived-experience aware guidance to Army Headquarters on policy development; advice to the chain of command on inclusive leadership education, welfare or discipline; practical support for regional Brigade engagement with their local LGBT+ communities; facilitating volunteers to feature in Army recruiting campaigns; advice and training support to the Army Cadet Force adult volunteers; Prides; supporting articles from Soldier Magazine to the Forces Pension Society feature on Armed Forces pensions application to same-sex couples, or the move from small meetings at Oxford colleges, to the well-attended annual conferences at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, there is much to be proud of.

The most important work of the Forum, remains the advice, guidance and support the network provides to those personnel serving or contemplating ‘coming out’ as openly LGBT+ in their teams.

The most important work of the Forum, remains the advice, guidance and support the network provides to those personnel serving or contemplating ‘coming out’ as openly LGBT+ in their teams.  In an organisation such as ours, where we are so utterly dependant on each other and where our working and social lives are so heavily intertwined, the ability to serve authentically and to be respected for your ability as a soldier, regardless of who you love, isessential for strong teams, and ultimately operational effectiveness.

The Forum has benefited from two exceptional Champions during my time; both Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders CBE DSO and General Sir James Everard KCB CBE have provided considerable, and genuine, support that whilst potentially unnoticed by many has certainly improved the lived experience of personnel across the spectrum of diversity.

Whilst I shall continue to support the team, from the side-lines, I wish thank all who’ve made the current Army Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Forum what it is and wish the Chair, Committee and wider network of LGBT+ personnel and allies every success in continuing to mainstream inclusion for the benefit of individual personnel, their teams and the Army.

Major Rob Ridley CEng MICE RE.

MBE for Capt Hannah Graf in New Year’s Honours List

MBE for Capt Hannah Graf in New Year’s Honours List

Hannah WinterbourneWe’re delighted to announce that the Army LGBT+ Forum’s previous Lead Transgender Rep; Captain Hannah Graf (nee Winterbourne) has been awarded an MBE for her leadership in this year’s New Year’s Honours List.

The list recognises the achievements of individuals across the United Kingdom for outstanding service to the community. Capt Graf joins our previous Forum Chair, WO2 Karen Styles MBE, who was also awarded an MBE honour in June 2017 for her services to promoting diversity.

An MBE, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is an honor bestowed on people who give outstanding contributions to arts, sciences, charities, welfare organisations, and public services.

Capt Graf acknowledged the award through the following tweet thanking those that had supported her:

Congratulations from everyone at the Army LGBT+ Forum for a very well deserved honour.

Nomination for ‘Positive LGBT Role Model Award’ for Forum Secretary

Nomination for ‘Positive LGBT Role Model Award’ for Forum Secretary

Guy Lowe-BarrowThe Army LGBT+ Forum was honoured to join representatives of the Army BAME Network at the National Diversity Awards, supporting positive role models, community organisations and a variety of different employers driving diversity and inclusion in their sectors. Especially so as Sergeant Lowe-Barrow, long serving Army LGBT+ Forum Secretary was nominated for a Positive LGBT Role Model Award recognising the years of exceptional work he has done for inclusion of both LGBT+ and BAME soldiers.

The black tie event, held in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Europe, had a touch of glamour befitting the importance of recognising those working to improve the lives of their communities. It was a privilege to meet many of the nominees and our mess dress uniform certainly attracted a lot of attention. Every one nominated for an award and their allies can be rightly proud of having done something positive for their communities.

Sergeant Lowe-Barrow was pipped to the award by a very worthy nominee, but we are unashamedly proud that he was nominated, and then shortlisted as a leading role model for the LGBT+ community.