February 2020 has been a blustery month in the UK, perfect for the rainbow flags which have danced with pride atop many buildings around the country.
These many-coloured pennants are held high in the sky with pride, celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK; spreading the love and embracing diversity.
LGBTQ+ History Month 2020
The first LGBTQ+ History Month was in 2005. Initiated by Sue Sanders, Emeritus Professor Harvey Milk Institute 2015 and Paul Patrick, the awareness raising month started as a Schools Out project.
The month aims to raise awareness, primarily among young people, promote diversity, and gain insight into the problems the LGBTQ+ community faces daily. It also observes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer history; what has shaped the community and how to make essential improvements for their equality and justice.
This year’s theme is Poetry, Prose and Plays, in honour of the death of a ‘rising star’ in the world of journalism, Lyra McKee, who had a huge impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Four worldwide-famous queer writers have been chosen to become the representatives of the month: E.M. Forster, Lorraine Hansberry, Dawn Langley Pepita Simmons, and William Shakespeare.
Enduring a life-long adversity, coming through several struggles to reach full acceptance, both in the eyes of the law and in society, the LGBTQ+ community has achieved great successes. Significant milestones include the introductions of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013, and ‘Turing’s Law’ 2017. The UK is now ranked as one of the best countries in Europe for LGBTQ+ rights (The Government Equalities Office, 2019).
Are the changes enough?
Thanks to the on-going activities of campaigners, we’ve witnessed a big improvement in the UK, including a positive change in public attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and to the abolishment of all main anti-gay laws.
However, ongoing research proves the unfair disadvantages, the harrassment, the bullying, and the discrimination the LGBTQ+ community continues to face. According to a survey done by the Government Equalities Office (2019), LGBTQ+ participants have a much lower life satisfaction rate than the general UK population. Notably, Trans participants score an even lower rate. Additionally, the National Union of Students (2014) suggested that hate crime and higher inequalities also happen to LGBTQ+ people, especially to young adults. A great majority of student respondents to Youth Chances’ study (2014) believed that “their school badly or very badly supported pupils with issues of sexuality or gender identity”.
More needs to be done, and it is possible. Living in a world where we can be ourselves, and love whoever we wish no matter their sexuality and without the fear of judgement is no longer a far-fetched dream, but a lot of work is still needed to build and maintain a ‘rainbow’ future.
The Social Ideas Podcast
Multiple LGTBQ+ charities, social enterprises, and organisations have jumped in to support the LGBTQ+ community overcome these issues. According to Government Equalities Office (2018), “LGBT organisations and charities were viewed as the most helpful when handling the most serious incidents experienced by respondents in a number of areas”.
Mermaids UK, is one of the country’s leading LGBTQ+ charities, and “has been supporting trans and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families since 1995”.
In this episode, Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids, shares why the LGBTQ+ History Month is of great importance to the whole society generally as well as the LGBTQ+ community particularly.