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News, Blogs & Press Releases » Pride Month: We chat to Sam, Head of the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Pride Month: We chat to Sam, Head of the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Sam (pictured above, left) with Maz

To celebrate Pride Month, we speak with Sam Linford-Platt, Head of the Vegetarian Society Cookery School about what Pride means to her.

Hello Sam! Tell us about yourself…

Hi, I’m Head of the Vegetarian Society Cookery School. I not only get to work with the lovely team in the cookery school to write and deliver classes, but I also work as part of the Vegetarian Society leadership team on wider projects.

My pronouns are she/they. I think of my pronouns as mainly ‘she’, with a generous sprinkling of ‘they’! I am a queer person. I love identifying as queer. It’s a beautiful umbrella term that helps me feel connected to all the colours in the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Although the word queer was historically used as an insult, it now gives many people a way to describe themselves that they didn’t have before. I used to struggle to describe my sexuality and gender. I didn’t feel I quite fitted in anywhere. The word ‘queer’ encompasses it all for me. It’s a way to say ‘I know I don’t fit in any of these boxes, but I can still find my people. I’m still part of a community of people who will understand me.’

The word ‘queer’ is also used academically in queer theories and studies. There’s a great book called Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele. It’s a brilliant, and accessible,  introduction to queer theory. I highly recommend it.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Ah, many things. I’ve worked with Pride charities for many years and been asked this dozens of times. Each time my answer is different. It has meant different things to me in my life. It’s about being visible, but what many heteronormative people don’t understand is that for many of the LGBTQ+ community, being visible isn’t something we choose. Every time I hold my wife’s hand in public, I’m visibly queer. Every time I put on gender non-conforming clothes, I’m visibly queer. Every time I leave my house, I’m visibly queer! I don’t do these things because I make a choice to be visibly queer. I do these things because this is who I am. It’s just life.

Queerness is for life, not just for Pride. So, for me, Pride is a protest. Many people don’t know the history of Pride. It has always been a protest. The first Pride, also known as Stonewall, was a protest. It’s so important to remember there are still many, many things to protest. There are 64 countries where homosexuality or the expression of transgender people is a criminal offence, 11 where it is punishable by death. There are still families trying to ‘cure’ their children of queerness, right here in the UK. Transgender people are still being murdered for who they are, particularly transgender people of colour. The rights of LGBTQ+ people are being eroded across the world. Even in the UK, laws are moving backwards.

I still have to think about where I am and who’s watching when I hold my wife’s hand. Homophobic attacks happen all the time, in even in the UK. Until these things change, Pride is a protest. We can still celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and protest at the same time. It’s not either/or. Just because Pride is a protest doesn’t mean we can’t protest joyously. Go to the parties, watch the parades, have all the fun. Just remember that’s not all there is to it.

You’re married to Maz, one of the tutors at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School. How have you found working together at the Vegetarian Society as a couple?

Good question! Wonderful and also sometimes challenging is the short answer! We met professionally first. We didn’t start out as a couple working at the Vegetarian Society. We joke that she won me over with her Mauritian street food the first time we met. Not the whole truth, but definitely in part. We work really well together. We have very complementary skills. Figuring out how we like to work, what our strengths and weaknesses are, what motivates us; these were all key learning points in making it work. We’ve also learned to keep work at work. We schedule meetings to discuss current work in work time. We try not to discuss work at home. It helps keep things clearly defined. Our professional relationship is very different to our home life. That works for us.

What crossover do you think there is between LGBTQ+ culture and vegetarianism/veganism? How does your identity interact with or inform your approach to a plant-based diet?

This is often debated as, anecdotally, it’s assumed that lots of queer people, particularly queer women, are vegetarian or vegan. Obviously, being vegetarian or vegan is a choice and doesn’t have a history of oppression, unlike being queer. For me, though, they are linked in some way. They are both important parts of my identity. Being an out queer person, unfortunately, often puts you on the outskirts. You can often feel like an outsider. Becoming comfortable with existing outside of heteronormative conventions is a journey I’m a good way through by now! It makes it easier to live as my authentic self, which being vegan is part of. I’m much less concerned with how my veganism is perceived by others.

The other way in which they’re connected for me is in a more political way. The LGBTQ+ community also has a long history of political action. Partly, because we’re a marginalised community, we’ve had to act; partly because we know how that feels. We have empathy. ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ in the 1980s is a great example. Maybe the concern for animal welfare that drives my veganism is linked to being part of a marginalised community. I know what it’s like to not have my voice heard or my rights considered.

What veggie dish(es) would you recommend for people to try to celebrate this Pride Month?

Yes, we can’t forget the food! Food is an inextricable part of celebrations in my house, as you can imagine! I’d suggest making your favourite celebratory dish. Make sure it includes a ‘rainbow’ of vegetables. It’ll be good for you too!

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