LGBT+ Role Models

Our LGBT+ roles models work at the University of Sheffield, within the local community or have Sheffield connections.

Lesbian Role Models

Gill Valentine

Professor Gill Valentine: Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Gill is the University’s senior LGBT+ champion and has been recognised for her dedication to equality, diversity and inclusion by The Financial Times’ 2017 OUTstanding Leading Public Sector LGBT+ Executives list, 2017 Stonewall Starting Out Guide, and the Excellence in Diversity Awards. Gill’s distinguished career has seen her author and edit 15 books and her influential research has helped shape government policy and strategy. Gill was awarded the highly prestigious Murchison Award for publications in recognition of her outstanding work on the geography of difference, equality and diversity.

Rev'd Anthea Colledge: University Associate Chaplain

Andrea Colledge

Anthea is an ordained Anglican (Church of England) priest and, since 2014, has worked part-time in the University Multifaith Chaplaincy Service as part of the Christian Chaplaincy team. The Chaplaincy offers individual support, faith-specific activities, and community-building opportunities to all students and staff at the University, including the successful Religion and Belief Tandem Learning Programme. Anthea says, "It's important for me to be out, as a gay ordained woman, because we far more often hear stories of conflict between faith and LGBT+ identities. People need to know that it's possible to reconcile faith and sexuality or gender identity." Anthea is also a part-time White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH) doctoral student, researching Christian theologies of mental health.

lgbt role modelsProfessor Jacqueline Marsh: Faculty of Social Sciences Director of Learning and Teaching

Jackie’s research is focused on the role and nature of popular culture, media and new technologies in young children’s literacy practices, both in-and out-of-school contexts. Jackie’s activities include: Faculty of Social Sciences Director of Learning and Teaching, 2013; Head of the School of Education, 2009 – 2012; Co-editor, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy; Chair, UKLA/ Wiley Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Award Committee 2011-2013; Member of ESRC Peer Review College.

lgbt role model

Dr Nicky Hallett: Reader - School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Nicky joined the School of English in 2007, having worked for several years immediately before that at the University of Kent, where she co-founded, with Jan Montefiore, a Centre for Gender, Sexuality & Writing. Her research interests are broadly in those subject areas, particularly as they relate to women's self-writing and auto/biography, from around the later fourteenth century through to the contemporary period.

Dr Rosie Valerio: former Director, Human Resource Management

lgbt role model

For 17 years, Rosie was the Director of Human Resource Management at The University. In this role she established the University’s reputation as an employer welcoming and celebrating diversity amongst its staff, sought to improve career prospects for women and led the University to recognition as an equal opportunity employer for LGBT+ colleagues. Under her leadership the HR team won the award for best in a UK University in 2010. Now retired, Rosie decided to use funds donated for her retirement, matched by support from the Vice-Chancellor, to develop The University of Sheffield Portrait of a Woman Prize, leading to the commissioning of a formal portrait designed to reflect the contribution of women to the University. To acknowledge her work and achievements, Rosie received an Honorary Degree in July 2015.

lgbt network

Jane Wright: Partner, Irwin Mitchell

A partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell in 1995, Jane is passionate about providing a legal service to clients who have sustained life changing injuries. She has been involved in a number of ground breaking cases including Sowden v Lodge and Havenhand v Geoffrey. She says ‘As a lesbian partner, I am proud to work in a firm with a strong culture of celebrating diversity. Our people are our key strength and IM provides a positive and open working environment. We have an active LGBT networking group, are a Stonewall Diversity Champion and rank as a Stonewall Top 100 Employer.’

Gay Role Models

Dr Matthew Mears: University Teacher in Physics

lgbt role model

Matt joined the department of Physics and Astronomy in 2002 as an undergraduate, stayed for a PhD in 2006, followed by a Research Fellowship and Teaching Fellowship. He was appointed as University Teacher in 2014. His research interests include Physics, education in HE, Directed motion of self-motile cells, Cellular adhesion in male factor infertility, Glass transition of thin films and Polymers at surfaces and interfaces. As well as representing LGBT staff and students within the department Matt is the LGBT rep on the Faculty of Science E&D committee and Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network.

James Gregory: Senior Software Engineer, epiGenesys Ltd

James Gregory

James works for a University spin-out company called epiGenesys, who develop web applications for the University. His job mostly revolves around speaking to customers, investigating the problems they want solving, and then building web information management applications that solve those problems. James is also joint Vice Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network. The Network works in partnership with management and staff at the University to create an inclusive and diverse working environment that encourages a culture of respect and equality for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Stewart Campbell: Concerts Director

Lgbt role model

Stewart is Artistic Director of The University of Sheffield Concerts. He is responsible for the programming, planning and production of the busy annual series of concerts, festivals and other creative music projects. He also oversees the series' development, promotion, administration and financial performance. Alongside working at the University, Stewart also has a professional singing career as a tenor.

Dr Mark Pendleton: Lecturer in Japanese Studies

lgbt role model

Mark is a social and cultural historian who joined School of East Asia Studies in January 2012 after completing a PhD in history at the University of Melbourne. His interdisciplinary research includes drawing from history, cultural studies, memory studies, literature, geography and critical theory. His core interest is the history of 20th century Japan but his active research interests include the histories of gender and sexuality, transnational social movement histories, the politics of violence and the relationship between memory and history. Within the School of East Asian Studies, Mark is the Japanese Studies undergraduate degree tutor. He also serves on the Faculty of Social Sciences Equality and Diversity Committee and the University's Gender Equality Committee.

Councillor Neale Gibson: Labour Councillor for Walkley

Neale Gibson

Neale is a local business man in Sheffield and is the current Labour Councillor for Walkley. He is the Director and co-owner of several business including Mowbray Accounting Ltd, Gemfish IT Ltd and Red Sea Dream Ltd. As well as working with local businesses in the South Yorkshire area to help them improve and enhance their business offerings, Neale is also Assistant to the Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, Member of GMB, Chair of Central Local Area Partnership and LGBT Champion for Sheffield and in Civil Partnership with Hussen. He is also an avid foodie and fan of Coronation Street and the Archers.

lgbt role model

Daniel Evans: Artistic Director at Sheffield Theatres

Daniel trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His work as an actor includes leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Royal Court and Donmar Warehouse, as well as roles on television and film in Doctor Who and Les Misérables. Daniel began directing in 2005 and was appointed Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres in 2009. During his tenure, the organisation won Best Regional Theatre for an unprecedented consecutive two years.

Mr Mark Feakins: Award Winning Photographer

lgbt role model

Mark trained as an actor before going into theatre management and becoming first General Manager at the Young Vic Theatre, London and then Executive Producer at Sheffield Theatres where he worked alongside artistic director Sam West. A management restructure prompted a career change and in 2009 he set up his own business Marmalade Photography. His passion for creative photography has won Mark the coveted award of Best Wedding Photographer in Yorkshire in 2014, 2013 and 2012.

Dr Michael Paddock: Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer

Dr Michael Paddock

Michael is an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Academic Unit of Child Health, Department of Oncology & Metabolism. He trained as a clinical radiologist in Sheffield following undergraduate and clinical paediatric training in London. He has a clinical research interest in the imaging of suspected physical child abuse and has won national and international research awards for his work. He currently serves as a Personal and Academic Tutor (PATS) for several undergraduate medical students at the Medical School and has a strong interest in medical education.

Bi Role Models

Sarah Shahid: ELTC Clerical Assistant

Sarah Shahid

Sarah joined the University in 2008 and has worked in the English Language Teaching Centre for the past 6 years. As an out and proud bisexual, Sarah was elected to represent all UNISON Bi members nationally at UNISON's LGBT conference in 2010. She is passionate about working towards eradicating Bi-phobia and Bi-Invisibility and has delivered conference workshops on these subjects. Sarah is keen to continue raising awareness of these issues and also hopes to work as a Counsellor with LGBT youth in the near future.

Jess Meacham: Student Support Tutor

Jess Meacham

Jess joined the Department of Journalism Studies in 2014 as the Student Support Tutor and is the first point of contact for students experiencing any kinds of difficulty. She is a member of the University's Sexual Violence Working Group, the Faculty of Social Sciences' Equality and Diversity Committee, and the staff LGBT and disability networks. She also sits on the branch committee of Sheffield UCU, which regularly campaigns on equality and diversity matters including the gender pay gap, disability awareness, migrant and BAME rights.

Bella Qvist: Journalist and Vlogger

Lgbt role model

Bella is a freelance journalist, vlogger, writer and video maker. Originally from Sweden, she lives in Sheffield and writes on pop culture, language, music, food, online trends, LGBT and diversity issues. She has written on bisexual issues for DIVA and The Guardian and contributes to DIVA’s HiBi tumblr. Bella revels in questioning the way sexuality is portrayed in the media and her article on labels and bisexuality was recently published in Grazia magazine. Her Youtube channel ‘Backstage with Bella’ is a hub of queer culture online. Public speaking engagements include speaking at the London School of Economics and The University of Sheffield. She is also the Chair of E.D.E.N Film, a Sheffield based film production company campaigning for LGBT+ equality and visibility and has been included on the ‘Biscuit Purple’ List which celebrates people whose work has benefited the bisexual community.

Trans Role Models

Eddie Izzard: Stand-up comedian, actor and writer

lgbt role model

In 2006, Eddie received an honorary doctorate in Letters from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sheffield where he completed an Accounting and Financial Management course in the early 1980s. In 2010, he was elected as the Honorary President of the University of Sheffield Students’ Union. Eddie started to freely talk about his transvestism at venues like Edinburgh Festival as early as 1992. His stance is that cross-dressing is neither part of his performance nor a sexual fetish. He identifies as "a straight transvestite or a male lesbian". He has also described himself as "a lesbian trapped in a man's body", transgender and "a complete boy plus half girl".

Non-Binary Role Models

Sam Bannister: Facilities Assistant

Sam Bannister

Sam works as a Facilities Assistant at the University, which includes everything from delivering mail to giving guided tours and providing first aid. Usually based in the Diamond, their team is often the first port of call for any information required by the building users and visitors. Working in the University shows Sam every day that all people have a purpose. Fortunately, Sam has been subjected to very little personal abuse or obstruction for their identity, which for them is Non-Binary gendered, Pan-Sexual person, but they define their identity by living it and not labelling it. Sam thinks The University’s Open@TUOS initiative, showing alliance and support for LGBT+ people regardless of one’s own identity, is a fantastic step to inclusion.

Ruby Willows: Facilities Assistant, The Arts Tower

Ruby Willows

Ruby works as a Facilities Assistant mainly at the Arts Tower. As an FA they are the first contact and a friendly face for visitors and other building users with duties ranging from room set ups, postal deliveries, waste disposal, contacting relevant services regarding building faults, etc. to helping customers with various queries. As a pansexual person within the University they enjoy working within such a safe, vibrant and diverse workplace. They have been subjected to homophobia in the past long before joining the University and find the atmosphere here welcoming and supportive to everyone from all walks of life.

BAME LGBT+ Role Models

Josh Willacy

Josh Willacy: Stonewall Client Account Manager

Josh is the University’s Stonewall Client Account Manager. He joined Stonewall in December 2014 and provides a high quality service to employers, either through Diversity Champions programme or on a consultancy basis. He supports the wider aims of Stonewall in promoting LGBT equality in the UK, and supports their events, campaigns, conferences and training programmes.

LGBT+ Parents

Rachel Collier-Wilson

Rachel Collier-Wilson: Resource Discovery Manager, University Library

Rachel is joint Vice Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network and as a result, has spoken at the Stonewall Workplace Conference in 2016. Having been inspired by a conference in 2015, Rachel has endeavoured to be a positive lesbian role model and representative of LGBT+ staff at the University. She has also been involved with the LGBT* Studies undergraduate course on several occasions. Rachel and her wife have an 18 year old daughter, who they are both 'mum' to.

LGBT+ role models speaking openly about mental health

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry: actor, comedian, writer and activist, and the president of Mental Health Charity Mind

Stephen is an openly gay man who has spoken publicly about his bipolar disorder. In 2006, he wrote and presented the Emmy Award–winning documentary "Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive", which saw him explore his  disorder. In 2011, Stephen was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Sussex, for his work campaigning for people suffering from mental health problems, bipolar disorder and HIV. In 2013, he presented "Stephen Fry: Out There", a two-part documentary in which he explores attitudes to homosexuality and the lives of gay people in different parts of the globe. He was also voted the second most influential gay person in Britain in 2007 by the Independent on Sunday Pink List.

One of his most famous quotes on LGBT+ and mental health: "Where LGBT and mental health issues collide is over stigma. And stigma is society's problem not the problem of the LGBT or mental health community. What we have to deal with is the ignorance, fear and prejudice that blight the lives of those who have nothing wrong with them in any moral or transgressive sense. It is society that is ill."

If you would like to be included as a role model on these pages, please get in touch at