Stephen Lawrence Day 2022 – A Legacy of Change.

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In 1993, Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a group of white males in a racially motivated attack whilst waiting at a bus stop with his best friend. His death caused waves within the South London community he had grown up in and swept across the nation in the years that followed, where the mishandling of the case sparked the debate of the Metropolitan Police being institutionally racist. Seven years after his death this was confirmed by an inquiry, proving racial bias influenced the efforts to solve the case.

Thirteen years later in 2012, two men were found guilty of his murder after new evidence was discovered and both received life sentences.

For over two decades, Stephen’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, tirelessly campaigned for police reform and founded Blueprint for all, formerly the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in his memory. In 2003 she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her efforts and in 2019, launched Stephen Lawrence Day on April 22nd to further commemorate her son.

Baroness Doreen describes her work across the last twenty-six years as the hope to create an “inclusive society for everyone to live their best life, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religion, disability or background”.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence

For Stephen Lawrence Day 2022, you can get involved tomorrow by donating to the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation and amplifying and supporting their Instagram by liking, commenting and sharing their posts using the #alegacyofchange hashtag.

UWE Bristol also offers the following courses on My learning to raise your awareness around race and racism to work towards a cultural change across the institution:

  • Speak Up: talking about race and becoming an active bystander
  • Unconscious bias
  • Understanding bias: helping to eliminate prejudice in organisations.

Committed to gender equality? Learn more about Athena Swan at UWE.

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Athena Swan is a charter mark that drives UWE’s work on gender equality. The Athena SWAN Steering Group leads the application to the charter mark and ensures the development of strategic actions. The team are currently seeking new members from across the university to support UWE’s gender equality journey in a number of departments. This will be an excellent development opportunity, for those committed to advocating for equality, diversity and inclusion. 

What is Athena Swan? 

Athena Swan is a global charter mark, used in the higher education sector to support and transform gender equality. It is a framework to recognise gender equality efforts, and also helps institutions identify areas of development. Athena SWAN awards usually last five years and applications require institutions to submit gender-disaggregated data and provide an action plan, outlining key objectives for gender equality. During renewal processes, applicants must assess their development against their action plans. A key outcome is to ensure universities can be held accountable against their proposed action plans. As a Steering Group member, you will ensure the university is ambitious in its approach to progressing towards gender equality goals, feeding back concerns at a high level, and sharing best practices.  

Athena Swan at UWE 

UWE’s action plan, created in 2017, maps out key focus areas including; addressing issues related to the intersection of gender and ethnicity, reducing gender pay gaps, improving gender balances in promotional rounds and increasing awareness of family-friendly policies.  

The university currently holds a Bronze award at institutional award and several awards at departmental level: 

  • Department of Health and Social Science (Bronze) 
  • Departments of Allied Health Professions and Nursing and Midwifery (Bronze) 
  • Department of Engineering, Design and Mathematics (Bronze) 
  • Architecture and the Built Environment (Bronze) 
  • Applied Sciences (Silver) 

Due to the upcoming re-structure within the university, these awards will be extended to allow colleges and schools to align. During this transition process, the Steering Group is responsible for ensuring that the university continues to have a robust approach to developing the outputs mapped out in the action plan.  

UWE’s Athena Swan steering group 

The Athena Swan Steering group is currently chaired by Martin Augustus and Sarah Grabham, and the Vice-chair is Clare Wilkinson. Suzanne Carrie and Vicky Swinerd are key representatives from EDI and Grace Biddulph is the EDI officer for the meetings. The Steering Group is made up of colleagues from across the university all working on gender equality. Currently, topics on our meetings agendas are family-associated leave, the impacts of COVID on different genders, trans health care provisions, levels of women in promotional rounds and much more.

The Steering Group should be representative of the university community and have at least two representatives from each department (soon to be college) and service across campuses. We are particularly keen to have representatives who may have lived experience of a protected characteristic (for example, race, sexual orientation or disability) but welcome applications from anyone interested in getting involved. Members may be designated areas of responsibility and should represent a mixture of grades and roles representing different stages of the career ladder, including students. As this work is focused on gender equality, we particularly welcome staff who identify with diverse gender identities, expressions or sexual orientations, for example, people who identify as trans, non-binary or gay. 

“Athena Swan is an important part of our university commitment to embedding equality, diversity and inclusion. Colleagues from all areas across the University play an important role in championing and embedding gender equality, enabling us to continually challenge ourselves to strive for excellence”. 

Amanda Coffey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

What next? 

Vacancies are currently available in:

  • Art and Design  
  • Education and Childhood
  • Business and Management
  • Law
  • Computer Science and Creative Technologies
  • EDM
  • School of Health and Social Wellbeing
  • Applied Sciences
  • Research Representative
  • Awards Officer
  • Marketing
  • HR

For an informal discussion about the roles please contact Martin Augustus ( or Sarah Grabham ( 

Applications should be submitted to the EDI team on by Friday 20th May using the expression of interest form (Word). Please ensure you check with your line manager if this role is suited to your work commitments. Please state which vacancy you are applying for. 

Currently, meetings are held online on teams. We expect new members joining to be available for an initial in-person meeting, to meet peers and the Athena Swan team. This will take place Tuesday 14th June, 12-1pm.  

An Evening of Gender Exploration Through Performance and Art.  

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Continuing conversations after LGBTQ+ History Month, Arnolfini hosted an evening of visual work which included a performance of ‘Beyond the Buzzwords’ by internationally renowned queer artist and icon, Del LaGrace Volcano.  This was a collaboration with UWE’s School of Art & Designs Visual Culture Research Group and Social Sciences Research Group.

The evening was opened by UWE’s Rachel Miles, Senior Lecturer of Visual Culture, and Bristol performance artist Tom Marshman with a rendition of ‘Deuce 2’. The performance explored gender and sexuality whilst growing up in the 80s. The performance focused on finding solidarity and friendship in other LGBTQ+ individuals and was structured around a Vanity Fair cover, released in 1993, with Kd Lang and Cindy Crawford. The image was deemed progressive for the time for being a visual representation of queer relationships in media. 

Next up was Del LaGrace Volcano, an international photographer known for their work documenting LGBTQ+ lives, and promoting queer culture. Del LaGrace shared their creative inspiration, which is embedded in the firm belief in non-hierarchal societies and relationships. Their feminist methodology centralises working with people, rather than objectifying bodies as sites for consumption. Del La Grace talked openly about ageing, relationships, raising children as non-binary and the societal resistance they have faced in this decision. 

Del LaGrace shared their personal and professional journey through imagery, with an expansive archive of photographs taken throughout their career. From growing up attending political and civil rights events to years attending art school in San Francisco, Del LaGrace portrays the often-overlooked LGBTQ+ communities in America since the 80s. They also shared multiple, powerful images of global pride marches with well-known icons such as Ian McKellen.    

Del LaGrace was assigned female at birth but now identifies as a gender queer, intersex artist. They have focused on raising awareness of intersex, queer, trans and marginalised lives through photography, focusing on portrait images and images of the body as a site for exploration and expression. Threaded throughout the talk was the consistent message of making queer bodies more visible, and how they have been historically contested in media and society. They discussed the use of photography as a form of activism and as a way of celebrating gender non-conformity.  

The event was attended by UWE staff and students and the general public. Thank you to the event organisers for an insightful and engaging evening. You can read an interview with Del LaGrace Volcano, with Bristol magazine, 24/7 here.  

Why Transgender Day of Visibility matters

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by Cal Russell-Thompson, Project Officer, FBL

Transgender Day of Visibility takes place on 31st March. It was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall to celebrate transgender and nonbinary people – and mark their struggle for civil rights around the world.

What is being transgender?

Gender identity is who you are, your self-perception, and how you would describe yourself.

Most people feel comfortable with the gender assigned to them at birth based on their primary sexual characteristics (cisgender).

Some people are transgender (trans). Trans women are typically presumed to be male at birth, but actually feel feminine, and would much rather live as women. Meanwhile, trans men are typically presumed to be female at birth, but actually feel masculine, and would much rather live as men.

In addition, some people are nonbinary, meaning they don’t see themselves as strictly “male” or “female”.

Each trans and nonbinary person is unique, and the community is as diverse as any other. Being trans and nonbinary is not a “new” phenomenon; gender fluidity has a documented history spanning thousands of years, and is likely as old as human society.

What’s it like being trans in the UK?

It would be amazing for Transgender Day of Visibility to be a simple day of celebration. But while public attitudes are broadly positive, two thirds of British trans people still hide their identity, fearing that others might react negatively.

Many things motivate this fear. 25% of British trans people have experienced homelessness, while 28% have faced domestic abuse from a partner. Transphobic hate crime is also increasing, with trans people in England and Wales currently twice as likely to suffer crime. There’s also been an increase in negative coverage of trans people in British media over the last decade.

This is complicated further by legal barriers to recognition. You still can’t legally self-define your gender outside of the “male” and “female” binary; and if you’re a trans man or woman, you still can’t legally change your gender without medical permission.

Sadly, these system-wide factors have exacerbated poor mental health outcomes for many trans and nonbinary people in the UK.

What does the future look like?

There are glimmers of hope. Social attitudes are changing, and this is beginning to have an impact. A recent employment tribunal ruling extended protection against workplace discrimination to nonbinary and genderfluid people. Eventually, medical barriers to gender recognition will likely disappear altogether, as in countries like Norway, Brazil, France, India, and Ireland. And as trans and nonbinary voices become more prominent in the media, the world will start to feel like a safer place to come out.

So, there does appear to be a better future for trans and nonbinary people. But it can only be realised if progress continues to be made in how society represents, treats, and understands us.

It is for this reason that we celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility: as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.

Abortion Rights and Reservation Politics in Young Lakota

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Women’s History Month offers the opportunity to shine a spotlight on often overlooked contributions to culture. This March, UWE third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly film reviews that showcase women’s lives globally. This week, Lydia Cooper reviews ‘Young Lakota’.

Sunny Clifford and Brandon Ferguson in a shot from Young Lakota Dir. Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt, ITVS, 2013

Young Lakota is an inspiring, and at times brutal, documentary about the struggle of Native American women to have their voices and opinions respected within their own community, and within the United States at large.

Young Lakota focuses on three young people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota during an election with abortion issues at the heart. At the beginning of the documentary, state officials in South Dakota propose a bill that would effectively ban abortion in all contexts, and when the Tribal President of the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, publicly opposes this, announcing her plans to open an abortion clinic on the reservation, she is impeached.

During the next election for tribal president, twins Sunny and Serena Clifford throw their support behind Cecilia and her campaign, attempting to get information out to other residents. These moments of campaigning are particularly poignant as their frustration at the lack of care some in the community have for abortion issues is clear. Sunny and Serena’s neighbour Brandon Ferguson gets hired to work for the candidate opposing Cecilia, much to the disappointment of Sunny and Serena, who saw him as a pro-choice ally prior to this.

Although the film does largely focus on the campaign, directors Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt scatter moments of the subjects reflecting on life on the reservation throughout the film, helping to contextualise the issues and conflict within the community. Although the low life expectancy, substance abuse and poverty that prevails over many reservations in the United States is often reported on, it’s good to see these issues being spoken about by people who actually live these experiences, and to contextualise these issues with the way the Native American community has been treated historically and today.

Although there are many shots of the beautiful surrounding landscape, most of the time we see the subjects in their cars, or inside their houses, cluttered with documents, leaflets and children’s toys. When we do see them together, outside with others from the reservation towards the end of the film, it is a refreshing change to the fractured community and relationships bringing Young Lakota to a more positive hopeful end.

Further viewing on Kanopy:

Personhood (2019) – Dir. Jo Ardinger

Argentina: My Body, Their Choice (2019) – Dir. Lucy D’cruz

Harriet – The Long Overdue Biopic of Harriet Tubman

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Women’s History Month offers the opportunity to shine a spotlight on often overlooked contributions to culture. This March, UWE third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly film reviews that showcase women’s lives globally. This week, Aoife Ranyell reviews ‘Harriet’.

Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, in Harriet, dir. Kasi Lemmons, United International Pictures, 2019 [Description: close up of a woman’s face with a pensive expression looking into the distance, there are trees behind her in the background.]

Women’s History Month was created to highlight and celebrate the contributions of women – past and present – in history and modern society. For all of us, there will be a handful of influential names that come to mind when we think about significant female figures who have made a difference in the world, and for many, one of those women will be American abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman.

Despite her extraordinary life and work – born into slavery in Maryland, escaping and fleeing on foot almost 100 miles to Pennsylvania (a journey that could’ve taken up to 3 weeks), subsequently returning to help rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, going on to become an armed scout in the Civil War, and become a prominent activist for women’s suffrage – Harriet, is the first biopic to tell Harriet Tubman’s story. After being in the works for several years, Harriet finally came to fruition in 2019. Female-directed, by the wonderful Kasi Lemmons, and boasting a stellar cast including Cynthia Erivo as Harriet, Leslie Odom Jr., Clarke Peters, Janelle Monáe, and many more, Harriet is an accessible film for those that aren’t the most aware of Tubman.

Lemmons beautifully captures the sprawling landscapes of the American countryside basking in golden sunlight, and Harriet’s aggressive fight for her freedom. The visuals are complemented by a powerful and moving score (composed by Terence Blanchard) – which is a little marmite at times, but it is undeniably affective. However, the real standouts are the performances: Cynthia Erivo’s performance as Harriet is enthralling, and her command carries the film along. Even without dialogue she manages to keep control of the film as her eyes capture Harriet’s blazing spirit, so it’s no surprise that it garnered her several nominations, including Best Actress from the Academy.

Although it’s not the most ground-breaking biopic, nor does it really delve into the intricacies or the real adversities of Tubman’s life and story, Harriet is an important watch, and pays a respectful tribute to an extraordinarily important woman. A woman whose courage and heroism truly impacted America, and who deserved a biopic many years before this.

If you’re not a fan of the Hollywood-style biopic, but want to learn about Harriet Tubman, then YouTube has several documentaries (long and short) available, including:

The Tale of a Young Girl Looking for Freedom in Wadjda

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Women’s History Month offers the opportunity to shine a spotlight on often overlooked contributions to culture. This March, UWE third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly film reviews that showcase women’s lives globally. This week, Lydia Cooper reviews ‘Wadjda’, the first female-directed Saudi feature film.

Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) and her Mother (Reem Abdullah) in a shot from Wadjda. Dir. Haifaa al-Mansour, Soda Pictures, 2012.[Description: young girl sat in the middle seat of a car looking out the window. Behind her in the backseat is another woman also looking out the window.]

Haifaa al-Mansour’s 2012 film Wadjda is remarkable not just because of its quality as a film, but also because was made in the first place. Wadjda is the first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first Saudi Arabian film from a female director. On top of all this, it’s a great coming of age story of a girl trying to be herself in an environment that is holding her back.

Wadjda stars Waad Mohammed as Wadjda, a young girl living in Riyadh with her mother, who, after making friends with a boy in her neighbourhood, decides to save up to buy a green bike so she can race him.

Wadjda is discouraged from getting the bike and is continuously told that girls should not ride bikes. Wadjda’s fixation on buying the bike provides an isolated incident to show the issues of women’s freedom in Saudi Arabia; although a bike is quite a simple thing for a child to want, for Wadjda this represents the prospects of hope and freedom in the conservative, patriarchal society she lives in.

Wadjda is a really lovely film with a lot of heart and Waad Mohammed is a large part of this. Despite being a first-time actress, she sparkles on screen, and manages to give a natural performance that is equally funny and emotional. The structure of the film is quite conventional but al-Mansour’s use of location filming and handheld camera creates a sense of realism and makes us feel closer to the women the film centres around.

Wadjda may not be the most innovative film in the world but it is a thoroughly enjoyable and hopeful story about a very complex subject, with a charming performance at the centre.

Further viewing on Kanopy:

Feminism Inshallah(2014) – Dir. Feriel Ben Mahmoud
Ten(2002) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Mavis! The Joyful Life of a Gospel Legend.

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Women’s History Month is taking place throughout March with multiple events happening at UWE. As part of the celebrations, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly film reviews. The first in the series is Mavis! which documents the life of civil rights icon and blues singer, Mavis Staples, reviewed by Aoife Ranyell.

Shot from Mavis! Dir. Jessica Edwards. Dogwoof, 2015. [Description: A woman is standing on a stage looking at the crowd singing into a microphone. She has both arms in the air and is smiling.]

There is no better way to begin Women’s History Month than by showcasing a true power icon and legend of women’s music history. Directed by Jessica Edwards, Mavis! is a feel-good documentary focussing on the life and talent of the woman in question: rhythm, blues and gospel singer, lead vocalist in her family band The Staple Singers, inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and verbal civil rights activist, Mavis Staples.

Taking a chronological, first-person approach to retelling Mavis’s life and story, the 80-minute runtime tightly packs in decades’ worth of music and history: from her roots in church gospel singing, through her connection with Dr Martin Luther King, to where we can find her now. She is still performing and making her incredible soulful music, and at the point of release, Mavis had been touring for 60 years – she’s not your ordinary 82-year-old. Mavis’s warming, animated personality radiates through the screen and it’s very difficult not to be completely enamoured with her. Edwards intersperses charismatic interviews with footage from Mavis’s bellowing live performances (that will undoubtedly give you goosebumps), backstage recording sessions, and snippets of her private life – including a fleeting romance with a young Bob Dylan, and her electric friendship with the one-and-only Prince.

This confident documentary truly highlights the innate joy, passion and hope that Mavis generates in everyone she meets, and it’s no surprise that by the end of the film you are left feeling her good nature and powerful energy within you. As she says herself:

“I’m just doing what I’ve always done. Just trying to bring love and music to the people.”

Mavis Staples

And she certainly does that.

Further Viewing:

You can access the full list of events happening for Women’s History Month via the UWE Website.

A Melancholy Love Story in Happy Together – film review.

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For the final review in this series for LGBTQ+ History month 2022, Lydia Cooper provides a review of ‘Happy Together’ a film that follows a struggling queer relationship.

Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) in a shot from Happy Together. Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, The Criterion Collection, 1997. [Description: A close-up film shot of a topless man who is covering his face with his arm. There is a mirrored reflection in the background.]

Wong Kar-Wai’s 1997 masterpiece Happy Together is a film about a gay couple from Hong Kong who have travelled to Buenos Aires but are kept apart by the conflict and toxicity of their relationship.

Wong Kar-Wai’s trademark style comes through with time lapses, snappy jump cut editing and repeated uses of song motifs throughout the film. Many of the scenes between Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) and Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) take place in the small room that Lai is renting and this tiny room and the building it is in, contain some of the best sequences in the film – the dancing scene in the kitchen is one of my favourite scenes of any film.

All the actors are great but the stand out is Tony Leung as Lai, who throughout the film is struggling with his relationship with Ho – which is filled with conflict and jealousy – and the loneliness and struggle of being a migrant without much money. Every performance in the film is organic but Leung’s in particular forms the emotional centre of the film.

Unlike a lot of films centring on queer couples Happy Together does not rely on stereotypes and shows the relationship between Lai and Ho with depth and detail. Despite the film being only just over an hour and a half long, we feel like we know them intimately. It’s also nice to see a film where the two main characters have genuine chemistry and the sexual tension throughout the film is palpable – making the progression of their relationship throughout the film even more heart-breaking and realistic.

Further Viewing on Kanopy:

Desert Hearts (1985) – Dir. Donna Deitch

Beau Travail(1999) – Dir. Claire Denis

Thank you to both Lydia Cooper and Aoife Raynell for this engaging series of film reviews for LGBTQ+ HM 2022, following the theme ‘Politics in Art: The Arc is Long’. If you have something you’d like to share, please let us know at

‘Chocolate Babies’, Stephen Winter’s Forgotten AIDS Debut – film review.

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In honour of LGBTQ+ History month 2022, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly reviews that capture this year’s theme of Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. Next up is Aoife Ranyell’s review of ‘Chocolate Babies’.

Sam (Jon Kit Lee) and Max (Claude E. Sloan) in Chocolate Babies. Dir. Steven Winters, Frameline, 1995. [Description: A view from the back of a sofa with two people sitting on it. The individuals are looking at each other intently with their heads resting on their hands.]

For the LGBT+ community, the 1980s and ’90s will forever be associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic – an immunodeficiency virus that alters the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. By 1993, over 2.5 million cases had been confirmed worldwide, and by 1995, given the lack of substantial response from the government, AIDS was the leading cause of death for Americans aged 25 to 44, disproportionately affecting the queer Black American population. In 1996, at the height of the epidemic, Chocolate Babies was released. 

Given the lack of narrative films focussed on HIV-positive, Black American minority LGBT+ communities in New York, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Chocolate Babies is a documentary. However, inspired by the New Queer Cinema movement and classic Humphrey Bogart movies, Stephen Winter wrote and directed his debut feature film as a drama. Chocolate Babies follows a group of loud queer activists – Max, Sam, Jamela, Larva (my personal favourite of the group), and Lady Marmalade – as they inflict war against the city’s conservative politicians who are failing to act in response to the AIDS epidemic that is destroying their community and their loved ones. The story not only highlights the epidemic taking place, but also addiction, abortion, religion, alcoholism, and fears of coming out, producing a raw and honest portrayal of inner-city life for the LGBT+ communities at the time.

Despite premiering at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival in 1997, Chocolate Babies never received full distribution and has been mostly forgotten in the world of queer cinema – it had never crossed my radar before now. It’s a huge shame because the film’s unique and transgressive style and point of view make for an absorbing and powerful film, one that will definitely pull on your heart, and has certainly expanded my perspective on the events of the 90s.

Further Viewing & Reading

Queering the Canon: BIOPIC NYC. Chocolate Babies Q&A with Stephen Winter.

The Early Days of America’s AIDS Crisis, by Tim Fitzsimons

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