In this blog, Monique Boucaud shares her experiences of working as the Cultural Engagement Officer for Support U. In 2011, Support U launched a support service that specifically focuses on the inclusion of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people. In June 2021, Support U were awarded funding with the People’s Health Trust to develop QPOC (Queer People of Colour) inclusion for the LGBT+ community. Monique has worked with RVA’s Inclusion Development worker to consider key areas for moving forward in this important work.
As the Cultural Engagement Officer for Support U, my main work is with representation and support for some of the lesser represented members of our community. Part of this focus is on QPOC (queer people of colour) or LGBT+ People of Colour (PoC). I began working with Support U in January 2021. My job role came from the increasing knowledge that the number of LGBT+ People of Colour engaging with our services was significantly disproportionate to the number of other clients we supported.
We knew there was a lack of LGBT+ people of colour accessing our services, but we did not know why. Therefore, my first task was to conduct a research project. Over several weeks I carried out one-to-one interviews and distributed surveys. I also initially began to hold feedback sessions with our followers and members of the general public. However, I later realised that I could not dedicate enough time to promote this particular aspect of the research project, which was funded on a short term basis. Therefore, my findings focused solely on interview participation and survey statistics. Time is one of the most significant considerations when embarking on any inclusion and diversity project. People need time to trust those who are reaching out to them. They need time to consider whether participation is beneficial to them and their wider, often-marginalised community. Even without the feedback sessions, our initial research project was a success. However, further research is something we are keen to carry out.
Firstly, we found that not everyone had heard of or even resonated with the term QPOC which originates from the USA. We also initially included the acronym BAME; however, both BAME and QPOC were later dropped for the more accepted and understood ‘LGBT+ People of Colour’. Several common themes arose regarding the possible reasons for the low number of LGBT+ people of colour accessing our services. Participants cited lack of awareness of Support U, cultural beliefs, fear, and the need for diversity within LGBT+ organisations such as our own. This, along with other findings, gave us a lot to work with.
Since our initial research project, Support U have engaged more with LGBT+ PoC through social media, reached out to PoC-led organisations, and participated in discussions and conferences. We have also dedicated more time to highlighting and showcasing LGBT+ people of colour by raising awareness of history-making LGBT+ people of colour and chatting with LGBT+ PoC artists and activists on our online digital show ‘Sofa Talks’.
Regarding our plans for the future, we have applied for funding to expand on this work. We hope to start an LGBT+ PoC social group, campaign on critical issues such as LGBT+ PoC hate crimes, run showcasing events, and continue to build on our staff, volunteers and website, all with diversity and inclusion at the forefront.
Monique’s blog highlights some lessons for us all, especially how time is so important for those we are trying to be more inclusive for, and how important it is for us to take time when we are considering our next steps in our own development of inclusion in our organisations. Thank you Monique for sharing some important insights into Support U’s journey so far.