Fiorella Montero-Diaz, Lecturer in Music
I joined the department of Music and Music Technology in 2015 as the first ethnomusicologist at Keele. My main research and teaching interests are: music hybridity, citizenship, race, class, and social conflict in contemporary Lima, Peru. When I first came to Keele I joined the Keele LGBT Staff Network and have endeavoured to be a positive lesbian role model and representative of LGBT+ BAME staff at the University. I am also a member of the Humanities Equalities and Diversity committee. I have been married to an amazing woman for almost twenty years already, and two years ago we became mothers to a gorgeous little boy.
As a BAME LGBT lecturer, I consider it very important to be a visible role model. I didn’t have one while growing up in Peru. It would have made a great difference to me to see people who looked and sounded like me, who maybe wanted a life similar to the one I wanted… and who with courage, resilience and the help of allies achieved what they wanted in life. I am convinced that it is hard to imagine what you can’t see when you are young. How can a 18-year-old LGBTI students, maybe from a conservative background, imagine getting to a place and time where they are healthy, happy and working in an inclusive place? Seeing this with your own eyes, surely makes a positive future feel much more feasible. Maybe if the 17 year-old me had this, it would have been easier for her to fight for her freedom and happiness and not carry, for a long time, guilt, shame and the foreboding of a dark future because of her homosexuality. Maybe her parents would also have been wiser when she came out.
My wife and I are completely open about our relationship and our LGBT identity. I am out inside and outside the classroom. We live on campus surrounded by a close-knit inclusive community, where children learn and experience diversity in all its nuances. The fact that we live on campus means that my students and fellow colleagues don’t only know me as a music lecturer, but also as a mother.
I have even experienced students approaching me to thank me for just being myself. Some of my students have opened up with me about their own fears about coming out, and said that the fact that I am a visible queer lecturer made it easier for them to think about the future with optimism and enthusiasm. For this I am grateful, if I can contribute by just being me to ease the anxiety of a LGBT student and inject optimism about where life may lead, then my journey was worth it.
I hope many more LGBT members of staff join the role models programme and in this way show fellow staff and students that it is possible to achieve your goals in life while wholeheartedly embracing and accepting your identity.