LGBT+ History Month: Switchboard Interview with Reuben, Social Prescriber

For the third in Switchboard’s series of interviews marking LGBT+ History Month, they had a chat with one of their staff members, Reuben Davidson (he/him).

The conversation is detailed below. We hope you enjoy it.

Please could you tell me a little about yourself?

I have lived in the Brighton area for the last 12 years and I am the Social Prescriber at Switchboard, working with two groups – TNBI (trans, non-binary and intersex) communities and LGBTQ+ communities who have experienced migration or are refugees and asylum-seekers.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?

LGBT+ History Month is an opportunity to come together, to learn and to reflect on the LGBTQ+ community leaders who have come before us and how their efforts paved a new way for us to enjoy today. It is also a great time to consider how far we have come, but also how far we still have left to go.

Why is it important?

How can it not be important? The LGBTQ+ community has such a rich, unique culture that has developed over centuries. It also opens the door for cis/het (cisgender/heterosexual) people to appreciate the struggle of our community for safety, recognition and freedom to live. I have a background in youth work and would often teach LGBTQ+ young people about our history, particularly the Stonewall Riots, the AIDS epidemic, Section 28 and the introduction of the Equality Act and same-sex marriage.

Who are your LGBT heroes?

Marsha P Johnson, Stormé DeLarverie, Elliot Page, Munroe Bergdorf, Leslie Feinberg, Katya Zamolodchikova – I could go on and on!

The theme of this year’s LGBT+ History Month is #Medicine – UnderTheScope – what does this make you think about?

My mind immediately goes to the current state of gender-affirming care in the UK and the unbelievable five-year waiting list to be seen by the London Gender Identity Clinic and the lack of mental health services available to LGBTQ+ people and our wider communities. Also, I want to celebrate the incredible achievements made in recent years for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to become widely available on the NHS. There is so much campaigning going on in Brighton by charities like the Martin Fisher Foundation and Terrence Higgins Trust to raise awareness of regular HIV testing, U=U (undetectable = untransmittable) and tackling stigma.

How would you encourage readers to celebrate/mark LGBT+ History Month?

With a good book! Some of my favourites are A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar, by Harry Nicholas; The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker; Trans Love, by Freiya Benson; Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain, by Imogen Tyler; and The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy.

What would you say about Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard’s place in LGBT history?

Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard has solidified its place in the LGBTQ+ landscape of the UK by serving the community for 50 years! We have always had what we are best known for: our helpline; but we have also adapted to community needs and have launched many other projects. We are also tenacious, spearheading support and discussion on community issues such as ageing, dementia, mental health, suicide prevention and asylum protection for LGBTQ+ refugees. I am endlessly proud of what the charity has achieved and the small part I’ve been able to play in it.