Young and Out: Stephanie Lloyd

In one of our special Youth Month profiles, NUS Wales President, Steph Lloyd tells us her experiences.

Steph Lloyd NUSWhere do you live?

I'm living in Cardiff City Centre and working at Cardiff Bay.

What is your job?

I've just been elected for a second term serving as President of the National Union of Students Wales. NUS Wales serves as a voice for students in Wales, championing their skills and fighting for their rights.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for young LGB people in Wales?.

Homophobia is still so prevalent in our society we're still excusing away homophobia as acceptable - as the 'norm'. But, so many people think we've reached equality when we just haven't. Young people are still staying in the closet, too afraid to come out to their family, their friends, the world.

Young LGB people in Wales are still having to fight for the right to be equal. They still having to hide their love behind closed doors and still having to face hate every day. Legal equality is one step but I worry about complacency.

We still have to fight for not only changes in the law, but changes in our culture and acceptability. This is particularly the case for those who are often marginalised in the movement, BAME, disabled, those from different faiths.

How do you feel being an out, young lesbian? What's your experience?

Sometimes it can be really hard to deal with the amount of that discrimination and homophobia I see and experience particularly when for me so much of that discrimination is coupled with gender discrimination. When for many people the community is just high profile, white, middle class men it often means gay women are still seen as abnormal.

For me challenging homophobia is one of the hardest aspects of being out. When someone screams at me in a bar for being a lesbian, or a man tells me that I just haven't found the right man yet it can be difficult to know how to respond. Sometimes I don't feel physically safe to challenge people or I just get sick of justifying my existence to other people.

But I surround myself with great friends who support me at every turn. I do what I can, however small, to try and change the world around me for the better. I've always been proud of who I am and even though facing discrimination and homophobic abuse can be hard I'd never change who I am for anything.

What is your favourite book and TV programme?

Favourite book? It has to be Harry Potter. When I get a chance, there is no doubt that Keeping up with the Kardashians takes the top spot for favourite TV show at the moment.

If you were First Minister what would you change?

I would make the equalities brief a full cabinet role, not an add-on. I would also introduce commissioners for equalities groups. The Assembly has done great things like fully implementing the duties from the Equality Act but it's essential we try to make Wales a much more accepting and hate free country.

You'd expect me to say something about education, especially as it has such a big role in creating a more equal society. I'd love to see an education system that was linked throughout life - from nursery and primary school right through to secondary school and on to university or college. I think Wales has a unique opportunity as a progressive country to re-imagine how we do education.

More information on the National Union of Students in Wales can be found here.

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