LGBT+ Research Promoted In The University

By Anabel Noelke & Jonathan MacBride

As part of February’s LGBT+ History Month calendar, Anabel Noelke hosted a seminar ‘LGBT+ and the Media’. Both staff and students attended and after an introduction and video showing her research Anabel led a vibrant discussion. The following month Anabel presented her research at Dentsu in London and has since been published in a journal. The following email was sent on 15th March to the entire Business School staff mailing list and it made me proud to see my workplace promoting a colleague’s work in the LGBT+ sphere. 


I’m delighted to let you know about a tremendous piece of engagement and knowledge exchange arising from Ana-isabel Noelkes PhD research that she undertook last week in London. Anabel was invited to speak about her research to employees of the Dentsu Aegis Network, a multinational media and digital marketing communications company headquartered in London, owned by Japanese advertising and public relations firm Dentsu.  

Anabel spoke to around 50 practitioners, including some clients such as Diageo and Vodafone, as well as representatives from Campaign UK, Marketing Week and Buzzfeed. She was also interviewed by the Campaign UK reporter for a piece she is writing on the topic. 

The talk revolved around the history of LGBT portrayals in advertising and recent changes based on her recently accepted sole-authored Journal of Homosexuality publication: 

Making Diversity Conform? An Intersectional, Longitudinal Analysis of LGBT-Specific Mainstream Media Advertisements.  

She discussed the challenges of advertising to any stigmatised/marginalised consumer group as well as the harm that can come from the use of stereotypes or tropes, before describing the ways in which brands have navigated the issue in recent years – for example through the use of TV or print ‘trailer’ ads combined with ‘Human Interest’ ads or ‘making-off’ videos online. She drew on quotes from her qualitative research to illustrate how different types of portrayals and ad formats were experienced by participants, before ending the talk with three successful features of LGBT advertising and six suggestions for best practice. 

Anabel’s presentation was followed by just under two hours of networking and informal discussion with participants, and she has been asked if she would come back to present to a client-oriented event later in the year.   

Anabel has also developed a video to tell her research story, which has been shared with Dentsu Aegis and is on YouTube: 

It is really inspiring to see how Anabel’s research is already making a difference and what an excellent ambassador she is for the School and the PhD programme!  

LGBT & Internationalisation

By Ali McDonald

In January along with two colleagues, I attended the Stonewall Scotland LGBT and Internationalisation Seminar, hosted by the University of Dundee.  Having worked in International Student Support for over 8 years and more recently becoming a Staff Dignity and Respect Advisor, this sounded right up my street.  Part of our remit in the International Student Advisory Service is to provide help and guidance to students transitioning into their lives in Edinburgh – though we currently offer a lot of cultural advice and highlight the diverseness of our ever-expanding international campus, do we explicitly offer sufficient support and advice to LGBT+ students at the pre-arrival and induction stage? This was one of numerous questions I had in my mind whilst travelling through to Dundee.

The seminar itself was really thought-provoking and had great representation from Universities throughout Scotland and Northern England.  Early in the seminar, we were split into teams for a quiz. Our team sadly didn’t win however we did learn some stark facts, such as: Same sex relationships or sexual acts is illegal in 76 countries and homosexuality is punishable by death in 13 countries – scarily, this number is actually on the increase.

Through a variety of discussions and knowledge sharing between the Universities, I felt proud of the University of Edinburgh and the work we have already done in this area.  BLOGS – the LGBT+ Student Society are very active and it’s fantastic to see the LGBT+ staff network has been newly revived.  The International Student Advisory Service also provides a lot of pre-arrival advice and cultural support to students, particularly highlight the diverseness of our campuses and how we promote inclusivity.  There is definitely more we can do in this area and I am keen to develop this further.

We are quick to celebrate – and rightly so – how wonderfully diverse our University is, with staff and students coming here from over 135 countries. Each individual will arrive with their own set of values, beliefs and ideology. It’s important to acknowledge and appreciate an individual’s journey is not linear and with such a diverse staff and student body, it is inevitable that beliefs and values will unfortunately clash.  I believe our job as representatives of the University is to encourage open, honest but most importantly accepting and understanding conversation with no judgements made.  I think our biggest challenge here is with such a diverse population, how do we promote inclusivity whilst not excluding any particular group at the same time?