Wednesday, 28 February 2018

LGBT + me - hate = no ÷ ๐ŸŒˆ

I am a gay man and very proud and accepting of this.  However, this is not the emphasis of this blog post, but how I have become more aware and challenging of LGBT+ issues.

This post is inspired from February 2017 when I attended an all day LGBT+ history month event in Sheffield.  I learned a little more about some local and national histories, including what was recorded on census forms and investigating if your ancestors were gay and/or open about their sexuality.  I found it revealing how many people in the last century kept their sexuality a secret due to it being illegal.   Absurd to think that is how it used to be.  However, it was heartening to discover that people were people were still being true to themselves and falling in love.

We have now come so far that gay relationships will be treated with no fanfare and just something everyday and ordinary.  There was a scene on Channel 4's Mutiny last year where it featured a gay man (who was about to set sail) and his husband.  It was the most natural picture of a man and his husband living their normal life that I have seen.  It felt such an uplifting moment and made me feel at ease.

Before now, I've felt somewhat not as proactive with my LGBT+ community.  I wasn't really aware of any major news stories or activities, other than the local pride events.  Which I have attended a fair few including Barnsley, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, Huddersfield and Wakefield.  Growing up I had been to Barnsley's 'gay nights' and at Sheffield's monthly Climax (lots of nice memories to look back on).  Eventually to lead on getting involved in Barnsley's LGBT+ forum for a year or so.  In recent years I attended Sheffield's Out off Office social LGBT+ events where I made a bunch of new friends.

So besides enjoying myself in a safe place, which is good as life is to be enjoyed.  The world is still far from being accepting and understanding of LGBT+, I always think that that there is more that needs to be done.  But I have been somewhat lazy and left it to others to lead on.  There's no rule in saying that if you are defined as LGBT+ you must become some sort of advocate or ambassador.  We're in a more open society of LGBT+, but there is far more to be done in terms of acceptance and understanding.

It happens in relationships when behaviours and interests can rub off on you.  Gary (my partner) is an excellent advocate for LGBT+ people and has helped educate me more by him keeping me up to date with news and happenings all around the world.  It's made me feel more invested in the LGBT+ community and be conscious of various local and national issues.  I've noticed how I observe comments on social media regarding celebrity issues for example, like on Big Brother and how the public reacts to these sorts of topics.

As silly as it may sound, I feel I have not become as stereotypical as I once was.  Like how I could make assumptions about a woman having short hair, it doesn't automatically mean she is a lesbian.  We shouldn't judge or label, but we are human and that's how our minds make sense of things sometimes as we need to categorise.  But there should be emphasis on eradicating these nonsensical and non-factual assumptions rather than letting them exist.

Joining NTU LGBT+ Staff Network

This month on NTU's news bulletin I saw a piece that mentioned the activities that were planned to raise awareness for the LGBT+ history month.  So I gave this a read and learned that they were re-launching the staff network.  Whilst I have a lot of other things on right now, I thought this would be really good to join.  I'm not new to being part of an LGBT+ group. though  Back in 2009-2010 in my hometown Barnsley, I was a member of their LGBT+ group and helped set up their first gay pride.  I'm many years older now and more informed of LGBT+ issues.  So I feel I can bring something to this network, even if it is just meeting new people/making friends, raising awareness and enabling changes to policies etc.  This can be part of my long-term contribution and commitment to LGBT+ history month.

EDIT:  here's me at Nottingham pride 2019 - "I wasn't just attending pride, I was wearing it! ๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŒˆ"