Published on 29 June 2021
It’s Pride month – a time to recognise and celebrate of the lives, achievements and history of the LGBTQI+ community.
To coincide with the celebration, the Pride Power List 2021 has been released, revealing the members of the LGBTQI+ community across the UK who have made the greatest positive impact over the past year in the fight for the equality and inclusion of LGBTQI+ individuals.
Among them, is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Programme Leader MSc Inequality and Society at the University of Sunderland, Drew Dalton, who ranked 64th out of 100.
“It feels incredible,” he said.
“To be recognised on the same list as people like Olly Alexander, Sir Michael Cashman, Peter Tatchell, Owen Jones and Phyll Opoku-Gyimah feels pretty humbling.
“I am honoured that all my decades of work, activism and campaigning has been recognised. I feel like I am walking on air.”
For the last 20 years, Drew has worked tirelessly both in education and the third sector, dedicating much of his time to voluntary and community organisations and groups, including setting up Northumberland’s first LGBTQI+ service for young people, heading up an HIV organisation and being Chair of Hidayah, an organisation for LGBTQI+ Muslims.
Now, he is pouring all of this experience into his charity ReportOUT.
Founded in 2019, ReportOUT reports, informs and defends against human rights abuses towards sexual and gender minorities across the globe.
Drew, 41, said: “From researching human rights abuses in Uganda, to training and educating a new generation of LGBTQI+ campaigners, I am proud to have seen ReportOUT grow.
“We are entirely volunteer-led and now have more than 60 volunteers and we are engaging in United Nations level mechanisms, which keeps me busy outside of work.
“I am also proud to say that we are one of the only human rights organisations outside of London and one of the few organisations who do this specific work on a global level.”
When it first launched in 2012, the Pride Power List struggled to find 100 names worthy of inclusion. Now, it is a very different story, with LGBTQI+ people and their achievements becoming increasingly visible over the years.
Drew, who won the North East Equality Award for ‘Individuals who make a difference’ and the LGBTQ+ North East Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution’ in 2016, said: “I think it is partly because public attitudes have begun to change and so more people can come ‘out’ in the media and to their families and communities, but also, I think that LGBTQI+ campaigning is taken more seriously by the public with every decade that passes by.
“People are starting to change their views with some aspects of LGBTQI+ lives and more allies are getting onboard to make social change happen. It is a beautiful thing to see younger people have more open-minded attitudes to what I had to put up with when I was their age.”
Drew admits there is still work to be done, though.
“There are still barriers,” he said.
“We are seeing a sustained attack on the transgender community in the UK by the state, some parts of the media and other prominent social actors and movements.
"We still insist on medically unnecessary ‘corrective’ surgery on intersex children, racism and Islamophobia is a huge problem in queer spaces, bisexual people are routinely ignored and violence is still rife – the risk of being affectionate toward a same sex partner or not having the ‘correct’ gender expression, still comes with homo/bi/transphobic violence and abuse.
“These are just some elements of some of the problems we still face in the UK, and in many parts of the world, people routinely face this and worse, such as torture, state-led witch hunts and death.”
So, what advice would Drew give to anyone who may be struggling with being their true selves, afraid of how society might view them?
“Being your authentic self is vital,” he said.
“I learnt a long time ago that ‘regret is a useless emotion’ and it has been my guiding motto in life ever since. This may not work for all, but it has certainly helped me.
“I have experienced prejudice. Routinely, as a bisexual man, you come up against a great deal of stigma. My approach is to grab the bull by the horns and make the active change that you want to see, happen.”
Linda Riley, founder of the Pride Power List, said: “The LGBTQI community is made a better place by our grass roots campaigners.
"People like Drew, who go above and beyond to fight for the rights of LGBTQI people across the world, help make the world a better place. Through the intersectional approach of this type of work so many people are helped and awareness is increased.
"The Pride Power List helps give a voice to individuals who are often taken for granted or overlooked. I would like to personally thank Drew for his work and commitment to our community.”
Recognising and celebrating all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of the University of Sunderland’s ethos and the University actively celebrates our diverse communities and the unique things that make us all different.
“I love being at the University," Drew added.
"It is a place that lets you have the freedom to shine, explore your own interests and it supports you to achieve this. There are some amazing people here who do incredible work and who inspire me daily.”
View this year’s Pride Power List here: https://www.pridepowerlist.com/post/pride-power-list-2021