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Aditya Tiwari (he/him)

LGBTQ+ Role Model

Communications Assistant Aditya Tiwari is an activist and award-winning poet. He reflected on how he uses his work and social media presence to be the role model that he didn't have while growing up queer in India.

What was it like 'coming out' as an LGBTQ+ person?

My childhood was tough, just like it was for a lot of people from the queer community. At that time, there wasn’t a lot of representation in India, and we didn’t have the same rights as our heterosexual counterparts. I battled discrimination and verbal and physical abuse for being myself at school, and that hatred followed me in my adult life, too.

But, through it all, I was determined to break through.

I wanted to grow up to be somebody that people could look up to and see themselves in. I’m proud to say I do this now, through my role at Teesside University, my writing and my social media presence.

I often receive messages from young people sharing how I have helped them in their journeys. They feel happy seeing someone like them living their best life. This makes all the experiences I have had, good and bad, worthwhile.

How easy is it to be open about your identity whilst working at Teesside University?

Of course, moving a thousand miles away from home and starting fresh in a new place with a new job could be daunting. However, my colleagues have made me feel like I belong. They have ensured that I am protected, heard, seen, and represented. In my opinion, that’s the best thing you can do for your queer peers.

Being an LGBTQ+ role model allows me to express my identity even more, sharing it not only with members of my team but with my colleagues across the University.

Teesside University is a champion for equality, diversity and inclusion. It provides opportunities and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students and staff, and it approaches LGBTQ+ inclusion with sincerity, sensitivity and awareness. I think that makes it much easier for people to be open about their identities while working and studying here.

Why is it important to have LGBTQ+ role models?

Growing up, there weren’t a lot of voices like mine represented, which was challenging.

We all need someone to look up to, and by having visible LGBTQ+ role models, we’re making it easier and safer for others who want to share their authentic selves.

What advice would you give to other LGBTQ+ colleagues or students who may be facing difficulties because of their sexuality or gender identity?

Be kind to yourself.

And take advantage of the networks available at Teesside University if you need them. There’s the LGBTQ+ Focus Group, LGBTQ+ Society and 24/7 support available through the wellbeing helpline. Then there’s additional support from the external organisations we work with, including Queer Base’s social group and Hart Gables.
Find out more about our support

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