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CEO Blog image for CityOfCulture2025. Black and white image of Andi smiling at the camera, holding a mug in their hands in centre. Superimposed over a purple and white photo Southampton Bargate, a 13th Century city gate with some city walls remaining. Text at top reads "CEO Blog", text at bottom reads "City of Culture". BR Logo in lower right hand corner
May 20, 2022
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Southampton is the birthplace of Beyond Reflections. Our roots are in a city of incredibly diverse cultures and subcultures. This fertile ground, acceptance built upon layers of people arriving, departing, staying nourished our charity and our members. Enabled us to understand ourselves better and to become more authentic.

Today Southampton is in the race to be City of Culture 2025. If the city wins there will be funding for events and improvements and an influx of visitors. I know there are great plans for more queer events and improvements to small venues in the pipeline, what would you like to see?

What is the City of Culture bid?

Every four years places across the UK compete to be the City of Culture of the UK. Southampton is one of the final four, with the results to be announced by the Culture Secretary very soon. #CityofCulture2025

“The UK City of Culture competition shows the important role that culture can play in levelling up our towns, cities and rural communities – bringing investment, great events, thousands of tourists and opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds.” Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport

The culture of Southampton

Southampton is a wonderful place to live, a place called home by an incredibly diverse group of residents. A port city. A place of arrival and departure and where people stop and stay. This constant mixing of diverse cultures, of different people with hopes and dreams and drive for their futures means Southampton has a strong history of welcoming and embracing all.

So many cultures

‘Multi-cultural’ does not just mean different ethnicities. It means all cultures, subcultures too. The acceptance of Southampton to the unusual, to the new, to the different brought allows subcultures to thrive. Here cultures mix and socialise, offshoots grow and develop. Southampton’s cultural mix allowed me, and countless others, to define our own style, our own authenticity.

Being trans+ means defining your own style, transgressing the normative rules, and living your own authenticity. Southampton is a safe place to be authentic in a way that so many cities are not.

What does it mean to Beyond Reflections?

Growing up in Southampton empowered Beyond Reflections to be proud of what we do. When the committee asked Beyond Reflections to lead the first Pride parade, they demonstrated how important our charity, and the trans+ people we support are to the city. Proud parents showing off the success of a child.

Beyond Reflections has a charitable obligation to make the world a better place for trans+ people through education. Breaking down the conditions which lead to isolation and poor mental wellbeing. Empowering cultural change so trans+ people can transition and live authentically.

The future

Whilst Beyond Reflections is now a national charity, we are tremendously proud of city we call home. Without the acceptance and support of people and organisations in Southampton we wouldn’t be the charity we are today. We’re thankful to every one of our neighbours and colleagues who have help to put us in the position where we are able to offer mental wellbeing support services to trans+ adults, their family and friends across England and Wales.

If Southampton wins City of Culture, Beyond Reflections will be at the forefront of sharing those values as we expand. Our members, volunteers and staff know what it feels like to be accepted, respected, included, and empowered. We experienced them first here in Southampton. #MakeItSO

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