Keeping the Momentum of LGBT History Month Going All Year
There’s nothing quite like the sense of belonging and inclusion that comes from attending a Pride festival or immersing yourself in all of the activities that coincide with LGBT History month. But the issue we are finding with these kinds of events is that once the fun and hype dies down, you are left with a sense of disappointment as everyone returns to their day to day lives. But what if there was a way that you could keep the momentum going? What if you could somehow keep LGBTQ+ issues on everyone’s mind for the whole year so that they take them seriously? Let’s look into it further.
We understand that there are many issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ communities that often only get brought into the public eye around LGBTQ+ History Month or around Pride Festival. It stirs up opinions, moves some into action but for most it is simply a great time to celebrate all that is different and diverse in their own communities. But how did Pride Festival and LGBT History Month come about?
LGBT History Month and Pride Festival Explained
Founded in 2005, the LGBT History Month has one clear goal and that is to “promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public”. In order to help them achieve this the board running this campaign have some values which they try to work to. These include increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, particularly in their own communities and cultures along with raising awareness in education and institutions to ensure safe spaces and equality.
Education is important to the LGBT History Month Charity as since 2011 it has based each month around a theme from the National Curriculum. This has enabled them to focus on reaching the younger generations who will be able to learn and develop skills of inclusivity and acceptance, as well as focusing on their own selves and their identities. Pride Festivals now happen up and down the country as each town and city celebrates diversity and equality. However the first Pride London March was actually held in 1972 and is now the most popular Pride March in the whole of the UK.
LGBT Rights; A Brief History
The change in LGBTQ+ rights began in 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act was decriminalised in England. Since then it has been a slow slog to the levels of equality we are facing now. In 1975 the first piece of legislation was created that enforced LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace with Veronica Pickles winning the right to become a health visitor (she was previously disallowed by her local authority on the grounds of being a lesbian). In 2000 the law was changed to enable LGBTQ+ people to enter the Armed Forces and in 2004 same-sex civil partnerships were introduced. However even though these feel like massive leaps in progress, we still have such a long way to go.
Why the Work of LGBT Charities Is Vital
While many people will attend a Pride festival because it’s a great party (because let’s face it, it is!), it is also vital that people understand why the work of LGBTQ+ charities are so important and needs highlighting. Despite massive leaps forward in legislation and policy, 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people have suffered a hate crime relating to their gender, sexual orientation or identity in the last 12 months*. In fact, 4 in 5 anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes go unreported because people believe that it won’t be taken seriously. Of those 4 in 5 who don’t report it, the majority are younger people. These statistics show that we still have so far to go with people still suffering at the hands of hate crimes and discrimination. The awareness that is brought about by Pride marches, events and LGBT History Month means that people learn to be more inclusive and respect people’s diversity.
Controversy Around LGBT Pride 2019
In 2019 you may remember that there was some controversy around the consumerist approach businesses and retailers had in relation to the 2019 Pride March. It was commented on that these businesses were trying to use Pride as a marketing ploy to sell certain items (one such item that made the headlines was an LGBT sandwich which donated it’s proceeds to charity) and were accused of “rainbow washing” products in order to make a quick buck. The issue arose when people were buying these products without fully understanding what the rainbow represented and therefore demeaning all the hard work Pride, LGBT History Month and the LGBTQ+ community have done throughout the years.
What Can We Learn Moving Forward?
One thing we can learn from this controversy is that while a catchy slogan or a fun day out is a great way to grab people’s attention, we need to utilise that to our advantage. Fully understanding the struggles and issues that arise from being part of the LGBTQ+ community can easily be forgotten when you are having a good time and dancing all day. We need to be clear with our motives and to ensure that while we raise awareness, we do so for the right causes.
How Can You Help?
Of course, there are always other events going on, marches, markets and community action groups that still run all year round. But how do we move the momentum of fun and engagement that we see from Pride marches forward into the year so that we can get more people thinking about inclusion and equality? One way is to support the work that LGBTQ+ charities do and get involved. It could be anything as small as running the dinc. group to something more substantial like helping organise an event. By offering your help, you are not only highlighting the importance of the cause, but you are also setting yourself as a good role model to others.
Keeping LGBTQ+ community issues at the forefront of everyone’s mind isn’t an easy task, but if you want to make a change then your first step is to take action and to inform yourself. Try reading through some of the other material found on dinc. and gather as much information as you can so that you are able to use that knowledge for good.
Sources: * https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/resources/ https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/news/blog/stonewall-season-50-years-inspiration-keep-fighting-lgbt-rights https://www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbt-britain-hate-crime-and-discrimination