We’re thrilled to announce that Rob Keetch, professionally known as Dr Bev Ballcrusher to many, has agreed to support Llamau by becoming the charity’s first LGBTQ+ Ambassador.

A strong and influential figure for the LGBTQ+ community in Wales and across the UK, Rob was a performer at Cardiff’s first Mardi Gras, before joining the committee where he helped further develop it into the colourful, well-known event that is Pride Cymru.

For the past two years, the Pinc List has recognised the Rhondda born star as one of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in Wales.

As an Ambassador for Llamau, Rob will help us amplify our voice around the major issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community in Wales; issues that in many circumstances result in young people being made homeless because of their sexuality or gender identity.

As a passionate activist, Rob has dedicated his career to supporting the LGBTQ+ community across Wales, and as an Ambassador for Llamau, will support us to end LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. LGBTQ+ young people are still five times more likely than their peers to become homeless and Rob will help us to create a Wales where that horrifying statistic is no longer reality.

Rob has experienced an aspect of homelessness himself, having sofa surfed for a year without a place of his own, and is uniquely placed to be able to relate to those who are struggling or who have struggled with the brutal reality of having nowhere safe to call home.

Why did you want to support Llamau as an LGBTQ+ Ambassador?

In my early teens, having left college in debt, I struggled to balance my pay cheque and in turn, my household finances and couldn’t pay my rent. Too proud to ask family for help I had no choice but to rely on the generosity of friends who let me stay with them until I got on my feet. I made a promise then if I was ever in the position to help others in the same way then I would...

Why do you think we’re still seeing young people being made homeless because of the sexuality or gender identity?

There is a pressure to ‘conform’ which many struggle to accept. Coming out is a very stressful time, not everyone has the support network they need to do so... they can be cut off from their families & thrown into the street if the family does not accept or, because of their faith/moral standpoint, cannot accept what they see as a ‘lifestyle choice’. Some would even rather run away than face that possibility, as they see that as taking some form of control.

How has the LGBTQ+ scene across Cardiff/Wales changed over the years?

Like most other cities across the UK it has become more open. Gone are the days of knocking on closed doors, sneaking down alleyways and giving false names to gain entrance to a bar... look at the ever evolving Pride Cymru event in Cardiff, once attended by 2000 people it’s now one of the largest events in Wales...and that we now have Pride events in Barry, Swansea, and the Rhondda. Identifying as LGBTQ+ today means we now have places to go, people to talk to, charities & groups for support & guidance we certainly didn’t have those options when I was growing up in the 80’s. Thankfully seeing positive role models in the media and the abolition of the hateful Section 28 means young people are able to find their voice at an earlier age, giving them confidence to plan their own path and discover who they are. That said the fight for those who identify as trans still continues to ensure they are given the gender recognition they need.

How can people show their support for LGBTQ+ rights?

That’s easy to answer... educate yourself, ask questions, reach out and don’t make assumptions. We all need to celebrate diversity... life would be pretty dull otherwise!

Jenna Lewis, Director of Fundraising and Communications, said:

We’re really looking forward to working with Rob. He’ll be an asset to Llamau and the LGBTQ+ young people we support across Wales. His knowledge and experience will help us work strategically towards ending homelessness for LGBTQ+ young people in Wales. We’re so excited to have him on board.