A community worker who has campaigned to make life better for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in Northampton has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Matthew Toresen, 53, from Northampton, is a community development officer at Voluntary Impact and was given the honour for services to LGBT equality.
Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo earlier today, Mr Toresen said he had come out in 1983 when it was a very different time.
“There have been massive changes since then. In 1983 you could still be arrested for chatting someone up and to go from that to being able to get married as I did two years ago and now to get a Queen’s Birthday Honours is ridiculous really,” he said.
Mr Toresen was informed of his honour earlier this year.
“I was so surprised when I found out. When the letter arrived it had Cabinet Office written on it and I almost threw it away as I thought it was a circular about the EU Referendum.
“Since then I have found out about the amount of work that goes into nominating people for these awards. It takes more than a year to gather the evidence and speak to different people, it is really touching.
“It is incredibly gratifying to know people will take that amount of time and energy to do something like this - it is overwhelming.”
Mr Toresen is going to celebrate over the weekend with his friends and neigbours.
In the citation from the Cabinet Office, Mr Toresen was praised for his work to make life better for LGBT people.
“From 1992 he was a Community Development worker for Yorkshire MESMAC, a sexual health organisation concerned with LGB&T health, social and equity agendas.
“He then moved to Northamptonshire where his activity has made him a local role model, who has made real change for LGBT people in Northamptonshire. He formed FAN Northants, a LGBT community events group, in August 2011 which he continues to run.
“He has supported a local LGBT book group (QWord), as well as collaborating to bring Northampton’s first Lesbian and Gay literary festival (booQfest) to Northampton in 2012. This was such a success that it returned in 2013 and 2014 having developed into a community organisation in its own right.
“In 2014 he became the vice-chair of Northampton Borough Councils LGBTQ People’s Forum. This is a forum to help support the LGBTQ people of Northampton. He has made an invaluable contribution to the lives of LGBT individuals in Northampton,” the citation concluded.