In the UK February is LGBTQIA+ History month. I would like to kick off LGBTQIA+ History month with a couple of questions.
Do you ever feel as though you are out of context with life? Does life seem to invalidate your identity? To most these probably seem like strange questions.
But, that is what it can be like when you grow up as part of a minority. At a Pride poetry session in 2019, one of the poets explained, he was often being “corrected” by his family as a kid. When he was asked which one of the S Club 7 he liked he answered, ‘Bradley’ to some consternation, and it was suggested that ‘Rachel’ was a much better answer.
How many LGBTQIA+ people can you remember from your history lessons?
None, is the usual answer to this question. These scenarios aren’t intended acts of homophobia. The first a loving family trying to show their son how life works and the second a school teaching the accepted majority history. These issues may seem small individually, but they have insidiously crept into most aspects of the society. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often made to hide from the society and to show their true selves they have to come out. As a straight male I have never worried that my choices were wrong. I have never had to come out. Society did not put me in the closet, although there may be those that think it would be a good idea.
There are some LGBTQIA+ inclusive books but like other minorities they are under-represented in literature and the media. This is particularly the case with children’s books. I came across a book recently called “The Prince and the Frog” by Olly Pike. A charming book, a fairy-tale with a twist. It discusses who the frog’s true love may be. The book is not trying to provide the right answer but just shows there might be a different answer for different people. This book is used in schools in the UK as part of diversity lessons!
When I grew up, the only messages that I received about any LGBTQIA+ issue was that they were ‘dirty and wrong.’ It was not normal. Thankfully, we have moved on from that.
About three years ago I went to a school parents evening with my 15-year-old daughter. Her Mum (who is my ex) was ill and asked me to take her new partner. I did not have a problem with this but a week after the parents evening my daughter told me it must not happen again. She had been asked questions by her peers about whether I was gay. My instinct was to laugh at the absurdity of my ex-wife’s new boyfriend being presumed to be mine. My daughter did not see this as a farce.
Although things have improved though, the hiding of LGBTQIA+ by the society can still make them second class citizens. We need to teach children and adults about diversity in society but also aim for the day where it is not needed. Normality should be a right granted to all.
Throughout February we will be celebrating LGBTQIA+ History month. This is a time to learn and for us all to come together.