Veteran lesbian activist Jan Bridget received the award from
retiring mayor Councillor Nader Fekri, who said he was proud to
have personally nominated her for this year's award.
Bridget was nominated for her work with the advocacy project Gay
and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, which the council
has supported for the last 12 years despite initial
Acknowledging Councillor Fekri's support, Bridget said: "When
Calderdale Council first provided grant aid to GALYIC you were
criticised in the media by one of your colleagues for giving
funding to lesbian and gay young people, 'to have
get-to-know-you-better sex parties when there were more deserving
She continued, "Here I am, in 2012, receiving the mayor's
citizenship award that recognises me and my work with LGBT young
people in Calderdale. WOW! "
Despite GALYIC's closure in 2011, Bridget said she was proud of
her achievements, supporting LGBT young people to have a normal
adolescence, to meet other young gay people, to not be isolated and
on their own, to feel normal and not a monster, and to have the
confidence in who they are and to be able to challenge
She said her passion for challenging injustice and campaigning
for the rights of LGBT young people was born out of her own
experience: growing up in a poor, single-parent family in 1950's
Lancashire, knowing she was gay from the age of 11 but not knowing
any other gays; leaving school at 15 without any qualifications and
working in local factories; escaping the small-town existence by
joining the WRAF and serving in the RAF for six years - surviving
both basic training and several witch hunts to expel lesbians.
On demob Bridget took a shorthand typing course and became a
secretary in London and then, with the aid of a grant, became a
mature student and gained the equivalent of A levels followed by an
upper second degree at London University.
She used her education to become a youth and community worker
but, having come out as a lesbian at her first staff conference,
was told, in no uncertain terms, that as a lesbian couldn't work
with girls and that she'd never be promoted. So she moved to
Leicester and, with her then partner, Sandra Lucille, set up
Lesbian Information Service.
Building on this experience, Bridget spent the next 25 years
supporting LGBT people and challenging homophobia. She said
she did this because she wanted, "to ensure young people with
similar backgrounds to me did not have to suffer internalised
homophobia, isolation and discrimination."
Bridget concluded that while there had been progress, there is
still much work to do. She pointed specifically to homophobic
bullying in schools and the use of religion to promote and justify