Switchboard is the recipient of the Allan Horsfall Gay Times Honour: Community Activism.
Founded in 1974, Switchboard is the longest-running LGBTQ helpline charity in the UK. Its dedicated and tireless network of volunteers manage over 30,000 calls each year from LGBTQ people around the nation, who have benefitted from its always-there approach.
As a member of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, Allan Horsfall is widely credited with helping bring about the decriminalisation of male homosexual activity.
Switchboard was honoured at the National Portrait Gallery during the inaugural event on 18 November, introduced to the stage by June Sarpong MBE.
“Why will Switchboard always be important? For our entire existence, it’s been really important that people have somebody that they can talk to confidently that they can trust, to talk about stuff like coming out,” said Sean Griffin, a volunteer at Switchboard told Gay Times.
“Helping people make informed decisions without judging them, without directing them but discussing with them what might be the best way forward for them in a particular circumstance.”
The Gay Times Honours recognise those who have had a tremendous impact on what it means for us to live openly and freely as LGBTQ people in modern Britain.
There’s much to be said about the enduring contributions of the individuals and organisations amplified by their inclusion in the Gay Times Honours, but celebrated queer writer and author Armistead Maupin perhaps sums it up best: ”The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.
In a bid to highlight those who’ve paved the way for justice, visibility and equality, the nine Honours are named posthumously after LGBTQ trailblazers.
Created in close collaboration with Gay Times Curator, Gemma Rolls-Bentley, and the nine Honourees themselves, specially commissioned artworks were created to recognise and reflect on the contributions of the individuals, organisations and institutions being honoured.
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Gemma for the passion and enthusiasm she has brought to the Gay Times Honours.
The recipients of the Gay Times Honours 2017 were decided by an esteemed panel of educators, activists and creators who volunteered their time and who worked hard to ensure comprehensive representation of the LGBTQ experience across the shortlists and Honourees.
They included Simon Millson, Topher Campbell, Polly Shute, Dr. Seb Buckle, Jacqui Gavin, Jon Huggett, Simon Black, Philippa Drew CB, Ryan Butcher and James Frost.
The Gay Times Honours 2017 was hosted by Jinkx Monsoon an Freida Slaves to an invited LGBT+ audience.
More information on the Gay Times Honours can be found here.