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OHT Celebrates #LGBTHistoryMonth 2020!

During February every year we celebrate LGBT History Month, an annual observance of the history and experiences of LGBT people that aims to promote acceptance and raise awareness of the issues faced by this community.

There are so many events happening all over the UK and worldwide, check some of them out here on the LGBT+ History Month Website!

One way OHT is celebrating, is by interviewing two fabulous people who have shared their experience.

Meet Natalie Banner - @natalie_banner

Tell us about yourself

I lead an initiative called Understanding Patient Data, based at the Wellcome Trust. Our aim is to make the way health data is used more visible, understandable and trustworthy. We do this through exploring people’s views and attitudes to data use, especially in the development of data-driven technology, and channelling that into policy and practice. Before getting into policy and engagement, I was a Philosophy post-doc at King’s College London. I live in London with my New Zealander wife and we’re about to fulfil that most excellent of lesbian clichés by adopting two rescue cats. I’m also training for my black belt in a form of martial arts called Xendo, which keeps me fit while helping manage my mental health.

Has technology created positive change for LGBT people?

It is definitely a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is possible now to find a sense of community and connection through technology that was simply not possible when I was younger – I grew up in the era of dial-up and MSN messenger! Finding other people ‘like me’ when I was grappling with my sexuality would’ve changed my life. On the other hand, it has allowed abuse to filter into the mainstream on quite a massive scale.

I work specifically on data use, and one thing that I constantly grapple with is how to navigate the benefits of better visibility and representation in data while mitigating the risks. ‘Standing up and being counted’ can be great: more, better quality data lets you see patterns you didn’t know existed, like shocking inequalities in LGBT+ mental health compared to straight populations. But at the same time, ‘standing out’ and being visible can entail risks: marginalisation, discrimination, violence. I don’t think we’ve yet figured out how to develop and harness data-driven tech in a way that pushes the balance enough towards the benefits.

Is there visible LGBT+ support at board-level?

It ranges hugely, but I think the most effective organisations are those that take the full breadth and intersectionality of diversity seriously, from neuro-diversity to social background as well as sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability and gender. Board-level visibility of LGBT+ role models can be a powerful signal, not just that an organisation recognises and values its LGBT+ staff, but that it values inclusion more broadly. But it’s no good changing your logo to a rainbow for Pride if you’re not actually tackling root causes of discrimination and injustice - sometimes I do worry LGBT+ inclusion can be a marketing exercise rather than being about deeper cultural and systemic change.

What is your favourite app?

Spotify. I listen to podcasts on my commute in (my interests are pretty varied: current favourites include ‘Freakonomics’, ‘The Guilty Feminist’ and ‘Myths and Legends’) and have a diligently-curated deep house playlist that keeps me energised but focused for when I need to write.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have faith that the existential venn diagram of “being gay” and “being happy” overlaps more than you think is possible right now. Oh and talk to people, they’re (mostly) not as judgemental as you fear.

Biggest LGBT idol or Favourite Gay Bar?

Biggest idol has to be Barbara Gittings, a founder of the LGBT civil rights movement and one of the driving forces behind declassifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in the US. My academic background is in the philosophy of psychiatry – essentially how we conceptualise mental illness – and during my studies I was fascinated by the story of how Barbara fought formidably to change the views of American psychiatrists, leading to homosexuality being dropped from the psychiatric manual, DSM-III, in 1973. Her focus on constructive dialogue was incredibly bold in a climate that had treated homosexuality as either criminal or pathological until then.

Meet Annemarie Naylor MBE

Tell us about yourself

I began by working for the Civil Service in regional government and economic development, before developing my career in national third sector roles as a specialist in community asset ownership. Following a secondment to the Cabinet Office working for the National Technology Advisor, I established a successful consultancy exploring the potential for digital asset and enterprise development led by communities. I am currently Director of Policy and Strategy at Future Care Capital with an oversight role in respect of research, policy and advocacy activity. Future Care Capital (FCC) is a national charity operating in the health and social care arena which works with policy-makers and practitioners to promote the ethical and innovate use of data and technology in the service of its beneficiaries.

Has technology created positive change for LGBT people?

I think tech developments have largely been a force for good – promoting community, connectedness and peer support at the same time as bringing about dramatic improvements to information, advice and guidance services. They’ve also empowered many LGBT people to be loud, proud, digital butterflies whilst raising general awareness of the ongoing challenges that young people, in particular, face. There are, undoubtedly, abuses of new and emergent technologies – with dystopian outcomes for LGBT people living in less tolerant societies around the world – and more needs to be done to guard against such unintended consequences. But, on balance, tech gets a big thumbs up from me!

Is there visible LGBT+ support at board-level?

I am fortunate to have worked for many years in national third sector organisations since charities are, in many important respects, leading lights in promoting and espousing equality, diversity and inclusion. FCC is no exception. Our Trustees and staff team alike live and breathe those values in all that they do. Of course, I also recognise the wider context in which we operate where there has been real progress in recent years, but there is always more that can and must be done.

What is your favourite app?

I spend most time using social media, broadcast and publication apps – largely, because I’m a news junkie and banned myself from games - but, I’m also AR curious!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Nil desperandum. The world is going to change – for the better – in *so* many ways over the coming decade: you can be anything you want to be 😉

Who is your biggest LGBT idol?

Megan Rapinhoe #swoon



Nick Prentice is part of the global core team at One HealthTech and the Business Manager of CEO's Office at the Health Innovation Network, and has worked in health & social care for nearly 8 years.

Views expressed in this blog are of my own and not of my employers.

None of the above is sponsored content


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