Written by Luanne Thornton (she/her)
Pride month comes not only as a moment of celebration for the LGBTIQA+ community but also a moment of reflection.
We take this opportunity to question what do LGBTIQA+ individuals need to recognise, accept, and celebrate their most authentic selves?
The LGBTIQA+ community need and deserve a knowledge of LGBTIQA+ history, a recognition of the political and sociocultural oppression which was responsible for many LGBTIQA+ individuals having been censored, devalued, reduced to anonymous entities or at worst completely erased from history entirely.
It’s unfortunate to recognise that many of the struggles faced by the LGBTIQA+ community throughout history are not only remembered but still experienced by many individuals today. A way of combating this is through the close connection of an LGBTIQA+ community whether that be a personal group formed through friends or an organisational group.
Significantly much of the progress in rights that the LGBTIQA+ community has had was born out of the Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, which occurred in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The events of the evening united the LGBTIQA+ community and served as the catalyst for LGBTIQA+ liberation across America and much of the Global North.
LGBTIQA+ people been able to work together to achieve more progressive rights which has led to the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships, and the legalisation of gay marriage to name but a few. But despite this there is much still to achieve.
One thing that irritates me is when I hear people say that there is not a need for queer spaces or communities anymore whether that be organised spaces or personal spaces. It is frustrating because there is still so much progress to be made.
Yes, the UK law allows gay marriage, and we have equality legislation protecting LGBT+ individuals and a wide public acceptance of gay people, but despite this I am frequently reminded that there are a lot of things we need to improve.
Transgender healthcare in the UK is poor with extremely long waiting times to access transition. Hate crimes are still experienced as a result of people’s LGBTIQA+ identity.
As a consequence of historical and current political oppression and society stigma, unfortunately LGBTIQA+ individuals remain at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts compared to their heterosexual peers.
This is because despite some progress within society and political institutions many LGBTIQA+ individuals still have to experience discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, social isolation, and rejection to name but a few.
On a more personal level I currently work in a role closely aligned with young people’s mental health and can personally attest to the detrimental impact these sorts of experiences have on LGBTIQA+ individuals.
Ultimately, in present society LGBTIQA+ individuals require an inner strength and perseverance accompanied with a sense of hope for progress in a world still very much difficult to navigate for us. I think there is a strong need for LGBTIQA+ communities and believe this will remain the case for a long time into the future. Something about the relationships with fellow LGBTIQA+ individuals feels significantly different to those relationships we hold with others, whether that be our family, friends, colleagues and/or acquaintances. What drives this, perhaps, is the knowledge of shared experiences, culture and collective consciousness.
Kae Tempest a non-binary writer says in their latest essay collection, On Connection,
“We are empathetic beings who feel for each other. Our very success as a species is rooted in our ability to be aware of each other’s needs, to notice each other’s pain and to experience deeply felt physiological and emotional empathy”.
By sharing our struggles and accomplishments we are motivated by one another’s powerful narratives. LGBTIQA+ communities provide us with a sense of belonging and authenticity and a pace to truly be ourselves.
As a subsection of the Green Party the liberation group LGBTIQA+ Greens provides a safe and friendly space, this is due to the immense work from committee and active members. The group actively campaigns to advance the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, and Asexual/Aromantic people. With much Discrimination still occurring in housing, education, employment and health, the LGBTIQA+ Greens are a much-needed force and supportive community to campaign against discrimination and for an equal and accepting society.
I am grateful to be part of a community which supports and fights for the rights of LGBTIQA+ to live and love freely, and I hope one day I may look back at what I did as part of a community to build an improved and inclusive future.