LGBTQ+ in Radio and Audio

This webinar shared the varied but very real lived experiences of LGBT+ colleagues working in broadcasting in the UK. Presenters, DJs and producers from across the rainbow family spoke about how things had changed in the industry over the last few decades and the challenges that they faced being out and proud on air and in the work place.

It was hosted by award winning presenter and DJ Kaylee Golding – who also shared her own personal experiences of being an out, gay, black woman in the industry. She found that the smaller stations were reluctant to cover Pride events, whereas bigger stations like Radio 1 encouraged her to talk about her sexuality on air.

She was joined by Rock FM’s breakfast co-host Olivia Jones, who has experienced negativity from listeners in the past for mentioning her wife on air. However, she says it’s important to be true and authentic and only this week had an honest discussion on air about whether she had maternity or paternity leave when her wife gave birth.

Shivani Dave is a freelance producer and presenter who resisted coming out when they heard colleagues being derogatory about Sam Smith’s identity. They told us they’ve now gone on to feel welcomed at other stations and able to talk openly on air about being non binary.

Getting into radio in her 50s, Steffi Barnett talked about how she’s always been an out and proud trans woman in radio. She says she doesn’t go on-air on BCfm as a trans female though – she’s a presenter foremost.

Ashley Byrne, the creative director of Made in Manchester, criticised the media for ignoring bisexuals and said we all needed to do more to understand what bisexuality is and to cover bisexual stories.

Having been in the industry for over 30 years Scott Mills, explained how he’s also  seen the workplace and the audience change over the decades. He told us he now feels much more comfortable mentioning his boyfriend on air than he would have done in the 90s.

This fascinating webinar ranged from discussing workplace culture to audience reactions, to management styles and mental health, all with a view to making broadcasting a more tolerant and diverse place for LGBT+ workers.

The event was part of the Radio Academy’s Diversity & Inclusion series. It was produced by Emma Goswell who is host of the ‘Coming Out Stories’ podcast and is editor of the book of the same name. She also works for Gaydio.