Today, many ambassadorial students met with Paul Culshaw, 33, from Liverpool who works with Stonewall and we were provided the task of generating questions to ask him about the work stonewall do, his experience with his orientation and his experiences in life. Paul works as an actor, singer, DJ and actor
Stonewall Interview 1
Stonewall is a charity with a focus on supporting those in the LGBTQ+ community. They have recently had a campaign called TeamPride in which the Premier League Football and the Rugby Football Union wore rainbow laces on the pitch to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. It was a brilliant campaign as it showed that, no matter what the sexuality of the players, they wanted sport to be everybody’s game. Stonewall are also very famous for their bright red campaign poster with the phrase: ‘Some people are gay, get over it’ and their important journey to spread the message that there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ+.
Paul first got involved with Stonewall when he published an auto-biography at 31 years old. Surprisingly, many people got in contact with him and said that his book gave them good advice or really spoke to them. Since Paul is an avid actor, he had an acting mentor at the time that saw a video for Stonewall. They suggested Paul do some work for them and, although he was nervous at first, Paul agreed and since then has served as an ambassador for Stonewall.
Whilst answering our questions, Paul provided us with an insight into what it was like coming out but also made it clear that coming out was a personal thing. He talked about how he came out himself to an older man who was also gay (the man was actually his mum’s hairdresser!) and that his friend was very supportive of him when he told her. Many people consider it easier to open up about things with people who have similar experiences or feelings. However, coming out is also a personal thing and different people go through with it in many different ways. It’s important to also know that some people who consider themselves as LGBTQ+ never do come out; whether it’s because they don’t feel the need, they don’t feel like they can or for any other reasons, it’s essential to remember that everyone has difference circumstances, thoughts and environments which can affect the way in which they live.
There is a lot of discussion surrounding the idea of labels and groups in the world, not just concerning sexuality: some people argue that fitting in boxes gives us comfort and security as part of a bigger picture whereas others say that they can be restrictive and stop us from doing everything we want to do. Like many things, we all have personal preferences and Paul made this very clear whilst speaking to us. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you try for yourself! There are so many unique characteristics and aspects about us that one part doesn’t define all of who we are so, for this reason, we believe that everyone should live their lives as they please as long as they respect everyone and tolerate each other.
During his visit, we learned a lot about Stonewall from Paul and what they do as well as gathered a different viewpoint on, not only sexuality, but how different everyone is and that it is a good thing. It seems the clear message from the visit was to embrace our differences and support each other to overcome prejudice. We are indeed all different and that is a positive thing. Overall, it was a great opportunity which we all enjoyed and found interesting.
Stonewall Interview 2
On the 28th of November some students had a discussion with a member of Stonewall – a charity based around support on the LGBTQ community – and Paul Culshaw is a member of the LGBTQ community.
A group of 17 selected role models and ambassadors were chosen to come up with some questions from a conduct of research regarding Stonewall and Paul’s experience with his orientation and divergence. This research was mainly taken place so that the students can learn more about LGBTQ and Stonewall.
First Paul and the selected students introduced themselves and Paul informed that he was from Liverpool while the students explained their roles in the academy. It was quite amazing that Paul let the students discuss matters about orientation and his personal experience with being LBGTQ.
Paul’s experience finding out that he was gay was shared with the students and was that he found out his sexuality gradually as time passed not in one day or one month, but throughout his school life. He also told us that he first came out to his hairdresser as he was gay too. Then his sexuality was told to his cousins and then later passed on to his mother. The students then thanked Paul for coming and letting them ask questions to him.
From this great discussion the students found out many tips and views with the experience of being LGBTQ and also they learnt that everyone normal whether they are LGBTQ or not.