Blog | LGBT+ History Month 2023 – CI Nicola Walker

The theme for this LGBT+ History month is ‘behind the lens’, a theme which aims to celebrate LGBT+ storytelling in TV and Film as well as celebrating queer people who work in the industry. Network members have shared their stories of how seeing representations of LGBT+ people in TV and Film affected them.


Rhona Cameron / Martina Navratilova

My personal experience with LGBT+ film and wider media has been a real journey of discovery from the secretive to the overt. As a teenager I was a huge tennis and football fan and played both locally. Consequently, my bedroom was covered in a rather confusing and eclectic mixture of both. From Manchester United male “heterosexual” footballers to Martina Navratilova who was my true idol. Of course Martina was/is a phenomenal tennis player, but the additional aspect of her life that received subtle interest by the media at that time was her sexuality and private life. I watched this with quiet interest as her “female friend” was referred to in the players box,  and I used to watch my annual Wimbledon Videos on the VHS time and again!

Sticking on the theme of technology from the archives, I also had a small TV in my room which had a wire running from it with an ear piece attached. I secretly used to stay up late and watch and listen to “Gaytime TV” with Rhona Cameron on it without my parents knowing! Gaytime TV was a late night gay themed comedy show aired in the late 90s on BBC2, and at the time attracted a small but loyal LGBT+ audience.  At the prime age of 16 I remember watching it feeling a sense of  strong curiosity and somehow starting to belong to something.

I was lucky enough to go to University a couple of years later where I was able to be out and be myself. Studying Sociology, in 2001 I then chose to do my dissertation on the “Representation of Gay Women in the Media, Education and Religion” – this was the perfect excuse to critique media images and articles such as the Ellen DeGeneres coming out show, and that famous photo of KD Lang being given a “masculine” shave on the front of Vanity Fair magazine in 1993 by Cindy Crawford. My dissertation went on to be published in the University library which was a proud and significant moment for me personally. It represented how the media, sport in the media and role models can have a real influence and be used in a positive way to give strength to young LGBT+ people growing up and finding themselves.

Thankfully the media has moved on significantly, particularly so in the last decade. Instead of the subtle nods to characters being gay or “leading alternative lifestyles” we now have some real and overt role models in soaps, dramas and in the wider media which is fantastic to see.

LGBT history month continues to be of great significance to me. It’s a celebration of LGBT+ people’s achievements, its an opportunity to come together locally, nationally and across the globe to recognise the journey so far. I also think it is an important opportunity to increase visibility and highlight role models. I think this has real prominence of continued importance in policing. Internally, as we continue to work hard to increase the diversity of recruitment, understand better retention and increase the diversity of our leaders – having open and authentic leaders who represent and are ambassadors for the LGBT+ community is crucial. Externally, as we see challenges to public trust and confidence, it is more important than ever that we continue to represent the often lesser heard communities.