Why we need LGBT+ History Month
Emmy Stock, Chair of PRYDE, Hyde’s staff network for LGBT+ staff and allies, reflects on the importance of LGBT+ History Month
For me, LGBT+ history month isn’t all about rainbow flags, celebrations and Pride events (although I do love a good Pride march). It’s a chance to educate ourselves, to celebrate the amazing achievements of the LGBT+ community and allies fighting for recognition and equal rights, to raise awareness of the battle that is still ongoing, and to learn about what the LGBT+ community are experiencing today.
LGBT+ history isn’t well represented in the media, nor is it taught about in schools. Throughout history, LGBT+ people have been forced to hide or suppress who they are and a lot of LGBT+ history has been erased or simply gone unnoticed. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I learnt about some key moments in LGBT+ history such as what happened to war-time, code-breaker Alan Turing before same sex relationships were decriminalised in the UK the late 1960s, and about Section 28 which was in effect from 1988 to 2003 and prohibited schools from talking about same sex relationships positively and how that gravely affected LGBT tolerance. It wasn’t until I did my own research that I learnt anything about the Stonewall riots in the USA or the actions of LGBT+ icons such as Harvey Milk, Marsha P Johnson, Justin Fastunu, Lady Phyll (my list could go on).
If some of those names and events I just mentioned don’t ring any bells for you, that’s ok. Now is a great opportunity to learn about them. LGBT+ history month gives us this platform and airtime to speak about this rich and challenging history of the LGBT+ community and share experiences. Through taking part in LGBT+ history month we can enhance our understanding and promote inclusiveness.
At Hyde, our staff network group for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies – PRYDE, is proud to be celebrating LGBT+ history month once again, and I’m proud to be the Chair of this group. So far this month, we’ve been sharing some great content on our internal communications channels and we’ve been holding lunch and learn sessions for staff in our offices. These sessions have focused on homelessness in the young LGBTQ+ community which is a big issue. According to The LGBT Youth Commission on Housing and Homelessness as many as 24% of young homeless people are LGBT and 77% state that their LGBT identity was a causal factor in them becoming homeless.
We’ve also been using the month to look at how we can help more LGBT+ people in the communities we work in. We have many customers in Chichester and so we’re really proud to be officially sponsoring Chichester’s first ever Pride event later this year. We’ve also been working with Stonepillow, a charity that supports and empowers homeless and vulnerable people in the Chichester and Arun districts. Last year we supported Medway Pride and so once again we’re working with people in that community, opening up conversations to see how we can provide support this year too.
My aim as Chair of PRYDE is to keep up the momentum driven by LGBT+ history month throughout the year, to continue supporting our LGBT+ staff and those in the communities we work in, to look at new ways to engage in conversations, spread awareness and promote inclusion.
Through recognising LGBT+ history and the gallant work of those who have gone before us we see what we have accomplished already, but there is so much work still to be done and that is why LGBT+ history month is as important today as it ever was.
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