Thanks for taking the time to look at this website which has been made possible by funding from Macmillan cancer support. Before I discuss the project further I must first thank all the people who gave up their time and so willingly let me interview them on camera during 2016. I can honestly say it was a pleasure interviewing each and every single person and I was humbled by people’s honesty and openness. I am also grateful to the innumerable LGBT organisations and community groups who distributed information about this study. Without them it would have been almost impossible to find people to interview. Such difficulties in the identification of LGBT people also remains one of the key barries to improving care.
Where did it all start?
This project had its genesis in October 2014 when I got speaking with Marika Hills from Macmillan Cancer Support. Marika encouraged me to apply to Macmillan for funding from Macmillan to take this project forward. With her support, along with people like Matt Lumsden, Fatimah Vali and various other people at Macmillan this project has been made possible. It seems important to say that at this stage this project focusses on LGB people. This is largely due to the funding constraints that we faced, and it was felt that after consultation with the trans* community that it would be wrong to have a ‘token’ trans* person interviewed. Instead, it feels better to pursue this topic in a future project, and then bring it all together in a revamped website. Macmillan, along with other organisations are doing work on trans* people and cancer, and hopefully this can find its way onto this website at some point.
I want to conclude with a short reflection about what interviewing people on this topic was like. Its important for me to state that I am a 31 year old, white, gay male. Even though you don’t seem me on camera, and rarely hear me, who I am has left traces on the project; the most obvious being some of the very frank discussions with some of the gay men about sexuality. As a gay man these were conversations that I could relate to and felt perfectly comfortable asking for more details on. This is less true of the interviews with lesbians, and I feel was at times my reticence to ask personal questions, particularly about sex, has resulted in a different tone in some of the interviews with women. However, as the project progressed this unease (which really was just my unease) dissipated and I felt more comfortable asking more probing questions. Redressing this balance may be an area to develop further in the future, and it is certainly an area where research is currently being undertaken (see Further Reading page); I would also welcome collaboration and/or linking with websites that explore women’s experiences in more depth. However, the main reason why I’m telling you this is because it serves in part as an encouragement to any professionals, patients, friends and family that you don’t need to identify in the same way as another person in order to listen to the difficulties that they are having and ask appropriate questions. Instead asking slow, gentle and respectful questions that don’t contain assumptions about gender and sexuality can take us a long way in understanding one another’s experiences; also the discomfort that we can so often feel when covering this territory is often one that is frequently in the mind of the beholder, and by asking we can open up opportunties to relieve anxieties in those living with cancer. As such I hope this website serves as a safe place for people (staff, patients friends and family) to reflect on how sexuality is an important topic to speak about, and is often easier to broach than we realise.
email: Maurice Nagington (Lecturer, Univeristy of Manchester)