LGBT+ Role Models

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

As part of our ongoing commitment to LGBT+ inclusion, we all have a responsibility to create a community where individuals can be themselves in a safe and welcoming environment.

Having visible LGBT+ role models can help others to develop a stronger sense of self and show that there should be no limits on who our LGBT+ staff and students can be and what they can achieve. Visibility can break down barriers and challenge misconceptions.

To show our community that we should all be proud of who we are, we welcome expressions of interest from members of LGBT+ staff who wish to be profiled. If you would like to be included please contact

Lesbian Role Models

Professor Gill Valentine: Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Gill Valentine

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.

Professor Fionn Stevenson: Chair in Sustainable Design - School of Architecture


Fionn holds a Chair in Sustainable Design at the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, and was former Head of School from 2013-17. She has worked in five other UK universities and prior to that was in practice for eight years, becoming a team director with the ASSIST Architects co-operative. Her research and consultancy work focuses on developing innovative methods of housing performance evaluation. As an RIBA Diversity Role Model she is able to challenge traditional ways of thinking in relation to work practices. She champions inclusive design and structural support for unpaid caring responsibilities. She believes her time at Greenham Common Womens Peace Camp evolved her identity as a feminist and a lesbian and left her with a strong belief that women – and others who are not part of a dominant culture - need to work together and help each other.

Professor Jacqueline Marsh: Faculty of Social Sciences Director of Learning and Teaching

lgbt role models

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.

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.

Gay Role Models

Professor Duncan Cameron: Co-Director of the University of Sheffield’s Flagship Research Institute for Sustainable Food


As a Professor of Plant and Soil Biology in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, his research investigates soil microbiology in the context of sustainable agriculture and global food security. Duncan is also Sheffield's academic lead for sustainability.

As a visible member of the LGBT+ community, he is actively engaged in issues around LGBT+ equality and inclusion and as a science communicator, has worked on projects such as the multi-media sci-art installation, Gaiamycota, and the Sound of Science. 

Professor Graham Gee: Head of the School of Law


Graham joined the University in 2015 as Professor of Public Law and is currently the Head of the School of Law. He writes on the UK’s contested constitution. Much of his work focuses on the working, governance and composition of the judiciary. This has included reflecting on the proper role for and limits on courts in debates about the recognition of marriage equality in common law jurisdictions such as Canada, South Africa and the United States.

Some of his more recent work investigates institutional barriers to a more diverse and representative judiciary in the UK.

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 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.

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 Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

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. 

He is currently Interim Director at The Montgomery theatre.

Bi Role Models

Adam Parkin: Global Opportunities & Exchanges Coordinator - Worldwide


When deciding to apply for a position in 2017, Adam was delighted and motivated in part by the University's commitment to the LGBT+ community. His role involves looking after the Study Abroad programme, overseeing inbound and outbound student exchange outside Europe, as well as supporting short-term mobility through international summer schools. He has developed the face-to-face support offered to Sheffield students, including setting up more regular drop in hours and new targeted information sessions for LGBT+ students and students with support needs. Adam is also the male bi representative on the LGBT+ Staff Network committee and outside of work, he is involved with Leeds Bi Group and Leeds LGBT+ Book Club.

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 biphobia 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.

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

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.

Eddie Izzard: Stand-up comedian, actor and alumnus

lgbt role model

In 2006, Eddie received an honorary doctorate in Letters from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at the University of Sheffield, where he began 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 talk freely about his transvestism at venues like Edinburgh Festival as early as 1992. Eddie identifies as "somewhat boy-ish and somewhat girl-ish", and prefers "either 'he' or 'she'" pronouns. In the past, Izzard identified as a transvestite, and he has also called himself "a lesbian trapped in a man's body" and "a complete boy plus half girl".

BAME LGBT+ Role Models

Josh Willacy: former Stonewall Client Account Manager

Josh Willacy

Josh joined Stonewall in 2014 and in his capacity as the University’s Stonewall Client Account Manager, he provided a high quality service to Stonewall Diversity Champions and employers in the Top 100 Workplace Index, either through. He supports the wider aims of Stonewall in promoting LGBT equality in the UK, and supports their events, campaigns, conferences and training programmes.

Public LGBT+ role models speaking openly about mental health

Stephen Fry: actor, comedian, writer and President of mental health charity Mind

Stephen Fry

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."