Paulo Pepe (he/him)
I was born in Portugal and grew up in a city in the Portuguese interior. While growing up, there wasn’t any kind of LGBTQ+ representation around me. The lack of representation and contact with these identities, made me think that my sexuality was not “normal.” Throughout my upbringing, I was also taught that homosexuality was not natural. When I was growing up, I always struggled to accept my sexual identity given the context that I was inserted in. During my adolescence, I was always ashamed of my own sexuality, and I would always hide this part of me. Only when I met my current partner in 2005 is when I started embracing my sexuality. This wasn’t an easy process, and it took me several years to fully embrace my queerness. When I completed my undergraduate studies in 2008, I moved to the UK with my partner. It was in the UK that I started to realise that there was nothing wrong with me, and I started to engage more with the LGBTQ+ community. When I look back at my past, I can now realise how homo/bi/transphobia are still very much engrained in our societies and they can easily influence into how we see ourselves. For me, my sexuality is a huge part of who I am now. Without my partner, my experiences, and my studies in the UK, this wouldn’t have been possible.
Working at the UEA
Before I joined UEA working as a Lecturer in Humanities within IIH in 2020, I worked in different academic institutions in the UK. At UEA I have always felt supported by my colleagues, and always felt part of the UEA community. Over the past few years, I have noticed that UEA has a very supportive environment and I have always felt welcome. I became involved with the UEA Staff Pride Network in 2022, taking on the role of Co-chair. When the role was advertised, I immediately thought that I would like to go for it, because I wanted to give back to the community and contribute to make the UEA Staff Pride Network a visible and supportive space for UEA staff who identify as LGBTQ+ or LGBTQ+ Allies. I am currently Co-chairing this position with Martin Lippiatt and look forward to continue to make the network an important space for our community.
Since I moved to the UK, I have always looked for opportunities to contribute to LGBTQ+ advocacy. I have always been involved with the community, either through my scholarly work, or through wider community engagement opportunities, and despite of the ‘progress’ that we have made, there’s still a lot to achieve. With my participation at UEA Staff Pride Network, I hope that I can continue to contribute more and be able to support our community and our working environment.