Today marks the start of LGBTQ+ History Month, an annual celebration and remembrance of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer + others) community.
The importance of LGBTQ+ History Month
With a lack of education and awareness, members of the LGBTQ+ community still face prejudice today. The overall aims of this month are to promote equality and diversity for the LGBTQ+ community, to acknowledge and value their contributions to society, and most importantly; to ensure they feel safe and accepted.
Achievements of the LGTBQ+ community can often be overlooked; it’s important to carry on educating those on the sacrifices made by the community which led to milestones such as the Sexual Offences Act 1967.
Although there have been huge milestones for the LGBTQ+ community there is still a great deal of work to be done to move towards social justice, fairness and inclusion.
What is the theme for this year?
This year’s theme is Politics in Art: “The Arc is Long” which is inspired by a Martin Luther King quote: ‘The Arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’
Some of the LGBTQ+ artists featured in this year’s theme are Keith Haring with his dancing figures, which were used to draw attention to the growing AIDS crisis of the early 1980s. Graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was also significant in the ‘80s for his neo-expressionist paintings.
How you can be an ally
Being an LGBTQ+ ally is about helping to create an inclusive environment where people can feel safe and be themselves around you.
If you are a straight ally, here are some of the ways you can help improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people everywhere.
Familiarise yourself with the terms
Educating yourself with the correct terminology and pronouns is a simple but crucial step in becoming an ally. Take note of what words a person uses to describe themselves and their sexual orientation and gender identity, using the correct terms and pronouns is being respectful to those around you.
Stonewall has created a Stonewall glossary of terms for you to learn and begin to familiarise yourself with.
Expanding your reading and watch list with cultural content is also an easy step but an important way of learning about LGBTQ+ history and LGBTQ+ existence today.
Show your support
A good way to show support is to engage with charities and events in your local community.
Angels of Freedom is a Leeds organisation of volunteers that provide support to the LGBTQ+ community. They host a range of activities and events welcome to anyone. Check out their website here to see how you can get involved.
Proud ‘n’ Diverse is a registered charity that offers one to one support and group sessions for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. They also work to make Leeds a safer space by raising awareness through workshops and webinars or businesses that would like the chance to learn about LGBTQ+ related topics to help assist them in their workplace.
There are also small LGBTQ+ businesses out there to show support to, this can be done by sharing their social media on your own accounts or, if you can afford to, purchasing something from them.
Celebrating at college
The LGBTQ+ Society is attending workshops at Bookish Type, an independent queer bookshop in Leeds city centre.
If you are struggling with mental health or just want to chat, there is plenty of support available.
The LGBTQ+ Society provides a safe space for those who identify as LGBTQ+* to be fully themselves without fear of judgement, criticism or discrimination. The society also welcomes straight allies who are encouraged to attend events.
If you’d like to get involved, visit the page here to see what’s going on.
The Yorkshire MESMAC is a sexual health organisation that offer a range of services for members of the public across Leeds, Bradford, Rotherham and Hull. They offer a range of mental health and wellbeing services, including counselling, 1-2-1 support, group sessions and training as well as LGBTQ+ Support groups.