Interview with TEDxBrighton Speaker Simon Fanshawe OBE

Simon co-founded Stonewall, the UK lesbian and gay lobby and has recently co-founded The Kaleidoscope Trust which supports LGBTI activists abroad. Simon will join our stage this year at TEDxBrighton on 20th October. We managed to catch-up with him to find out a bit more about him and what he’s looking forward to on the day.


Hey Simon! Tell us a little bit about what you’ll be speaking about at TEDxBrighton this year?

I was one of the founders of Stonewall the lesbian and gay equality lobby back ion 1987. What unites groups of people when we are on the foothills of our struggles is that we have a common aim. In our case: equality before the law. As the struggle starts to be successful, that unity of purpose starts to diversify as we win the freedom to follow our individual ambitions and social and political journeys. Identity politics takes on a different significance in our lives. 


Why do you think it’s important for people to hear about this?

At the moment we seem to have forgotten that defeat at the hands of the right and disappointment at the hands of social democracy has pushed activists into what I think is a cul-de-sac of identity politics where we have lost sight of the ultimate point of politics; which is to find and create the common good – a society we all want to live in. 


This year’s theme is ‘Wonderland, Society’s Search for Utopia’ – what does the word ‘utopia’ mean to you and your line of work? 

A society/company/organisation where each of us finds a way to collaborate in the pursuit of common cause, without losing our individuality; and where we can respect and profoundly value difference.


Looking at the speaker line-up, who else are you interested in hearing talk this year? 

All of them!


Why do you think Brighton has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?

Because we are a city half made-up of people who ran away and half of people who welcomed us. We are the city always on the edge of the new. 


Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?

That they value difference and learn to challenge with respect and receive challenged with open ears.