LGBT+ Role Models

These are just a few of the University's LGBT+ Role Models. They have all attended Role Model training with either Stonewall or the Oxford Learning Institute. The training provides individuals an opportunity, in a safe and supportive space, to explore what it means to be an LGBT+ role model, to identify potential barriers and ways to overcome them. Some of the Role models are also trained mentors, click on the profiles to learn more.

Helen Charlesworth

I’m Helen Charlesworth, Head of Communications for Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, and also the Chair of the LGBT+ Advisory Group. Role models are important to me because I remember the few people that were openly LGBT when I first came out. It made a huge difference to see other people that were living happy and honest lives. It’s important to have openly LGBT people at the University so that colleagues can see this is a safe and welcoming environment. We know that people perform better at work when they feel happy and able to be themselves.

James Fletcher

I have always been out at work and rightfully received a warm or (even better) an indifferent response from my colleagues. Being out about my sexuality, partner, and so on has never been an issue. It is difficult to unpick whether that is a result of my own attitude, the attitudes of others, the nature of my workplace or a mixture of them all. It is clear though that, for many others, being out at work is not as easy. I believe it is the duty of those who can stand up for themselves and others, and those who can testify to the positive experiences they have had in their own workplace, should do so. That is why I joined the Stonewall Role Models programme.

Dr Clara Barker

During my youth there were few LGBT+ role models around. I certainly never met any in my school, when section 28 was in force. I assumed that it was not ok to be transgender and as a result my mental health suffered, resulting in severe depression and suicidal thoughts that continued until I transitioned. When I finally came out as transgender I was met with absolute acceptance. As a trans-woman, I took a position with the Department of Materials and became the vice-chair of the University’s LGBT+ Advisory Group. once living my life authentically my mental health improved significantly, showing that it really can get better.

Outside of work, I was featured in Stonewall poster campaign and I work with Oxfordshire LGBT+ youth groups.  Which goes to show the importance of role models – be it in the work place, in schools, universities or the community at large. It is easy to say that these places accept people for who they are but it is vital to actually see that this is true.

I am a trained mentor and would be happy to mentor LGBT+ members of staff within the University, especially research and academic staff. Email:

Read Clara's article in the Huffington Post: You Can Be Yourself And Be A Scientist Too.

Professor Richard B Parkinson

I think it’s important to be entirely oneself to one’s colleagues and students, without any self-censoring. Being gay for me is just a normal part of my life, and doesn’t bring with it any obligations to conform to expectations. In a university like Oxford, there are all sorts of LGBTQ people - artists, gardeners, scientists, mathematicians, and even Egyptologists.

Matt Tennant

After attending the Stonewall Role-Model training, I wanted to make sure I was happy and proud to identify as LGBTQ within the workplace. Having small things like the LGBT Network logo in my email signature or a Pride Flag postcard on my desk is a way of showing to other staff and students in the Students’ Union that being Gay isn’t something I’m ashamed of. Being a role-model to me is also about being visible, so that other LGBTQ staff know I’m always happen to talk to them about any LGBTQ issues or promote specific events.

Hannah Boschen

I work at the Oxford Learning Institute in Professional Development. I spend my time facilitating workshops for all staff in the University primarily based around aspects of management and leadership, communication skills and personal effectiveness. I’ve seen the look of relief in people’s eyes when I’ve told them I’m part of the LGBT+ community. And I think it’s important to remind people that we exist, throughout the organisation, doing all sorts of different things. My desk is unmistakable in the office. A rainbow flag flies proudly on it, which sits next to a rainbow unicorn. A simple, yet powerful way of conveying an important message to everyone, regardless of their identity.

Read Hannah's article in Medium: My rainbow family suddenly expanded in the best way possible

Emma-Ben Lewis

Emma-Ben Lewis

We all agree that 'being yourself' at work is important, but for a non-binary person like me that's easier said than done. My close colleagues are great and try to be respectful, but ultimately I am most people's first experience of meeting someone who is neither a man nor a woman. It’s tough sometimes. I joined the role models programme because I want to do better at making myself visible, and to feel less guilty when I have to tell someone 'actually, you've made a false assumption about me'. I have a lot in common with my LGB colleagues on this, although non-binary awareness and inclusion has some catching-up to do... we're working on it!

Freyja Madsen

I joined the Role Models programme because I believe everyone deserves to be honest about who they are at work, and that doing so makes us all happier, healthier, and more productive. I’ve been out as a bisexual woman for my entire adult life, but haven’t always felt comfortable discussing this with colleagues. Meeting more out and proud people both professionally and socially has really encouraged me to be honest about my sexuality in my professional life, and I’d love to return the favour by increasing LGBTQ+ visibility within the University – our community has done incredible things, and we should be proud of them. I also believe that little things can make a huge difference; it’s amazing how many productive and interesting conversations a rainbow flag on a pin board can start.

Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston

I am Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston and I am a DPhil student in the Faculty of English and a tutor on LMH’s Foundation Year programme. I joined the Role Models programme to raise the visibility of gender queer people in Oxford, and to think about how best to educate others about LGBTQ+ issues in a friendly and inclusive manner. Having studied here as both an undergraduate and a postgraduate, I was nervous about how people who had known me personally and professionally as a cis man in the institution would react to my new identity. A large part of finding the confidence to be myself came from the support and encouragement I received from other members of the community, and from the example set by people by LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues. As a Role Model, I hope to offer the same sense of safety, support, and inclusivity in my teaching practice and in my interactions with staff, students, and friends throughout the university.

Dr Samantha Knight

I’m a University Research Lecturer and a PI for the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and I’m based at the Wellcome Trust Centre For Human Genetics (WTCHG) ‘up the hill’ at the Old Road Campus. Although I have worked for the University for over 25 years, openly out as gay woman, it was only in the Summer of 2016 that I made the conscious decision to step up and step out as an LGBT+ role model. I was spurred on by the Stonewall Role Model Course which was held in Oxford for the first time that year. I was curious to find out what I could do that would be relevant and effective for the LGBT+ community and our allies in the workplace and to explore ideas for making this happen. The course gave me the impetus to join the University’s LGBT+ Advisory Group as well as the gentle nudge I needed to use my membership of the WTCHG’s Gender Equality Committee to encourage colleagues also to reflect on how we can become more effective and inclusive in the workplace. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable and able to be themselves, welcomed and secure in their daily working environments and within the University as a whole.  So let’s make it happen! Oh and if you’re still reading this and might enjoy a relaxed, informal, reasonably priced dinner out amongst friends, do come along to Cheap Eats, a social get together that I organise for the third Sunday of every month. You’ll find this and other events posted to the Oxford University LGBT+ network mailing list (to sign up send a blank e-mail to

I am a trained mentor and would be happy to mentor LGBT+ members of staff within the University, especially research and academic-related staff, regardless of grade. Email:

Rich Plummer-Powell

I joined Oxford's Role Models in order to be more assertively "out" at work, and to help me demonstrate (to myself and for others) that it's alright to be just whoever you are at work. LGBTQ+ visibility matters because it creates a more equal world, builds self-acceptance, and encourages everyone to be confident in their own identity.

Mel Parrott

I am a trained mentor and would be happy to mentor LGBT+ members of staff within the Collegiate University, especially those working in a college in Professional Management roles. Email:

If you are interested in taking part in a future LGBT+ Role Models programme and joining the network please email: