Today marks the last day of LGBTQ+ History Month 2021, a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ people past and present for their contributions to the world.
Over the last few weeks, we awarded the title of Queero to a number of individuals who have either fought the good fight for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion or have simply been an outstanding person with their contributions to society.
It is important to remember that these individuals are not the only ones that have fought for our rights however and there are hundreds, if not thousands, maybe even millions, more out there fighting for true LGBTQ+ equality. And though this is the end of LGBTQ+ History Month 2021, queer celebration and representation is not going to end.
The University of Bath are continually working towards ensuring true equality, diversity and inclusion for staff and students. The Kaleidoscope group are working with amazing people to ensure their vision, and our needs, are met. But it’s not just down to us.
With the future headed in the right direction, there is still much to be done, so todays Queero should be you, and it starts here. And here’s how…
As LGBTQ+ people, we have lived, and still live, in a society that continues the heteronormative narrative and scarcely considers us without it being a ‘tick box exercise’. This lack of genuine inclusion continues to erase our place in society and even when our culture is incorporated, it’s not necessarily a true representation.
What we can do is raise the stories in the correct light. We can discuss LGBTQ+ individuals just as much as we talk about heterosexual individuals. If someone wants to talk about Tom Holland, talk about Elliot page. If someone wishes to praise the work of Justin Bieber, highlight Olly Alexander.
Open up channels of conversation and share LGBTQ+ culture with other cultures. You don’t even have to bring up their sexual or gender identity, you just need to raise their platforms and broaden people’s culture a little. They’ll discover the individual’s background in their own way.
Share in your successes
As a community we don’t always throw ourselves in the spotlight for the amazing work we are doing, unless it’s within our community. And this doesn’t just refer to big wins like changing policy, you have other valid contributions to be proud of. You have to make others aware that you are doing something of significance to you and others so that we can have true representation.
Why shouldn’t a lesbian neuroscientist be highlighting her accomplishment in advancing the field? Why can’t a trans author boast about his recent novel being nominated for an award? Why does a non-binary playwright have to hide their Olivier award winning show from their binary peers?
Be your own champion, it’s the one power no one can take from you.
Do your research
The world of today enables the huge award of privilege. It’s so easy to just go about our lives without thinking about the road that was built for us.
I spent the last six weeks undertaking researching for all of these blogs. I scoured books, websites, news articles, and spoke with individuals to ascertain this information. There were times when I was incredibly humbled and left in tears about the things so many before me had achieved. Along the way I discovered so many things that I was personally ignorant to that it opened up my mind on my own community. You have to do the same.
We chastise society for LGBTQ+ erasure but if you’re not immersing yourself into the community fully and learning about your own culture and its history, can you truly stand on stage and say you did everything to preserve it?
Join wider communities
Everyone’s a role model so why not be an active one within the broad spectrum of individuals society has to offer?
Assimilation, if you will, is a way to get yourself involved outside of the community and integrate with others. You won’t need to compromise who you are; you just need to get involved with others and make yourself known within those groups.
By immersing yourself into other groups you’ll be highlighting our best qualities and making others aware of what’s going on, good or bad. You’ll be building a network of allies without even trying.
Don’t stand idly by
People who remain idle are just as bad as perpetrators of injustice. If there’s ever been a more appropriate time to stand up and act, it’s now.
If you see or hear homophobic or transphobic behaviour, say something. If you’re not comfortable raising this with the individuals involved, speak to senior management and HR. You are not alone and will be supported every step of the way.
Furthermore, don’t allow bigotry to go unpunished outside of the University. You should report this to your local police and protective services. You can even contact your local government electives to express the need for better education and protection within the wider community for LGBTQ+ people. We all have a part to play on eradicating injustice.
Learn, learn and learn
I will forever be an advocate for education. The most wonderful thing about this world is the ability to ascertain information and learn new things and empower ourselves with knowledge.
The most amazing thing about this University is that the resources are available in abundance. Make ardent use of the opportunity to learn and use your newly acquired knowledge to make a change. Knowledge is key. Knowledge is power.
Since joining Kaleidoscope myself I have made new friends, new allies, new connections and have become empowered in establishing my own career development path. I have a number of people championing me to continue my learning and development and providing me with the best opportunities to achieve my goals in working towards greater equality and diversity initiatives. If I of all people can do that, what’s stopping you? And if something or someone is stopping you, there’s always another option.
So please, be my last Queero of 2021 and embrace everything that is LGBTQ+. Kaleidoscope is forever here to support you and be your friend and ally. Plus, if you want to keep me updated on your progress then please do. You may even be included in the Queeroes list of 2022. I’ve already got a few names listed for next year!
There is also a group of us who will be continuing the momentum throughout the year as we endeavour to celebrate LGBTQ+ people and the community more. For more information and to get involved, feel free to contact us.
With love, with happiness, and with the gaiety of it all, it has been a pleasure working on this series and sharing these stories with you. I hope they have inspired you and made it abundantly clear that you are valued, and you do belong.
Best wishes, Jimmy