In this series we shine a light on some of the talented members of the LGBT+ community working or studying in climate change and environment.
Dan Hdidouan, postgraduate research student (he/him)
“I grew up in a diverse community and international family. I saw first-hand diversity working together to identify and resolve problems.”
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an intersectional and interdisciplinary researcher in climate change and renewable power.
What do you do at Imperial?
I am finishing up my PhD in Impeiral’s Centre for Environmental Policy about the impact of climate change on the economics of renewable power, but I also do sustainability and EDI [Equality, Diversity and Inclusion] in my department and patch of grass in the secret garden [pictured above].
What first made you care about climate change and the environment?
I grew up in a diverse community and international family. I saw first-hand diversity working together to identify and resolve problems. This was juxtaposed with the discrimination I and others experienced because ‘normal’ people couldn’t understand our lived experiences because we looked or acted differently. These differences are in part related to the different places we grew up in and bespoke challenges we faced in our environments. These challenges need understanding to resolve and environmental research provided the toolkit to begin my life long commitment to improving EDI and sustainability for people’s wellbeing.
What is your pet environment peeve?
The ignorance of one size fits all solutions – this leads to exclusion, propagating pain.
What were you doing before you came to Imperial?
I worked in both private and public sector sustainability, energy and climate change consulting.
What is your favourite thing about studying at Imperial?
The people and their skills can be inspiring and motivating. We are all unified under a STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] umbrella of shared thinking; we all pursue greater understanding of our universe, together.
What could be better about studying at Imperial?
There are two things that stand out.
- People are not as open about their feelings and emotions. It is hard to connect with people on a personal level, compounding the concept of ‘belonging’ within Imperial.
- There is an insidious mantra of “If it ain’t quantitative, it ain’t STEM” which limits ontological and epistemological debate around the STEM we do and the research we focus on.
Both factors result in an extreme laser focus that can enable deep penetration of the scientific unknown. This can also lead to an inability to shine this light and energy on other dark parts of our society, leading to the detachment of our research from everyday lives.
Tell us about an LGBT+ figure you admire (current or historical).
RuPaul Charles. Growing up in the 1990s south London in a poor council estate where the National Front still existed – being gay didn’t exist. Being gay was bad. Being gay AND non-white was punishable, the enforcers were anyone and everyone; the government didn’t care. One of the few day-time TV visible individuals that used their platform to positively express themselves and encourage (not coerce or force) others to do so was RuPaul. No one is perfect, but RuPaul dared greatly and kept on trying to bring the queer to the mainstream and now we take that for granted. He did this being a hyper-feminised black man – THAT IS NOT EASY. There are many others across the world and disciplines that have also achieved equally and perhaps greater acts worthy of admiration; but the scale of RuPaul’s work and consistency of the message from the beginning needs to be acknowledged. You have to love yourself before you can love anybody else. Amen.
Follow Dan on Twitter: @DanielHdidouan
For more information about the LGBTQ+ community at Imperial see Imperial600, the LGBT+ staff network and IQ, LGBT+ student society.
Climate and environment researchers talk about their LGBT+ heroes
Discover more about LGBT+ History Month, find out why pronouns are important and read more Q&As in this news article.
Imperial 600 & Women@Imperial Week | Featuring Inspiring LGBT Women
9 March, 12:00-13:00, online
Imperial 600 is supporting the broader International Women’s Day (IWD) programming happening across Imperial College London in March 2021, and we’re very pleased to host Michelle Raymond, a senior leader at MyGWork a global networking hub and job board for LGBT+ professionals and graduates.
Additionally, Michelle is an accomplished musician who’s played with some of the biggest names in music today.
LGBT History Month edit-a-thon
26 February, 14:00-16:30, online
Wikipedia – the world’s largest online encyclopedia – overwhelmingly recognises the achievements of white men.
This event is your chance to help change that by learning how to become a Wikipedia author and editor then putting that knowledge into practice straight away to start chronicling the achievements of LGBTQ+ people on this online platform.