An introduction from the SU Pride Society
February in the United Kingdom sees us celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month. In 2021, we’re celebrating and reflecting on this occasion in a vastly different way than many previous years, with not only a pandemic driving us apart, but also increasing amounts of division and discrimination in society.
LGBTQ+ History Month is now in its 16th year, and it’s still as important as ever. Many like to take comfort in the notion that we’ve moved beyond days gone by where LGBTQ+ people were treated as a lower class, even as criminals, but sadly this isn’t true. Members of our community still face immense challenges all across the globe. Being who we are still carries the death penalty in a number of countries, while the number where homosexuality is, at the very least, a criminal offence still stands at over 70.
In the United Kingdom, it is true that we have come a long way, but history is closer than we think it to be. Only 18 years have passed since it became legal for schools to even teach about homosexuality in a positive context. Still, to this day, many LGBTQ+ people face challenges in things as simple as giving blood or accessing appropriate sexual education. The trans community suffers from an onslaught of high-profile attacks from the media, from celebrities, and from politicians, while NHS waiting lists for gender healthcare stretch into multiple years. Even in London, our capital, a proudly global city, a lesbian couple were physically attacked while travelling on public transport. Far from being isolated incidents, statistics show that the number of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people has tripled in the past five years.
But there’s room for hope, and room for change. We are now more open than ever about LGBTQ+ issues, and we owe a large part of this to the trailblazers who came before us. The drag queens of New York fronted by Marsha P Johnson, who inspired the idea of LGBTQ+ pride as it exists today, the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) activists like Mark Ashton, who worked to support British miners in the 1980s, the hidden talents like Alan Turing, who shaped the modern world while being forced to hide a huge part of themselves. The next names on this long list could be any one of us.
On behalf of Pride Society, I’d like to thank the SU for all of their support and for giving us the opportunity to talk about the importance of this month to our community. Across February, we are running a series of online film screenings in coordination with ResLife which all tie into LGBTQ+ issues, both in documentary and fictional contexts. We also look forward to many other events throughout the rest of this academic year, and we are always open to new members, whether you’re already comfortable and confident in your LGBTQ+ identity or if you’re just making your first steps into discovering a part of yourself.
SU Pride Society
It's important to highlight the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community have endured in their past, in order to help understand and support the modern community that continues to thrive today. Find out more about some truly fascinating figures below.
The Universities' and The Students' Union are hosting a selection of events throughout the month.
Don't forget to vote in the Liberation Committee Elections. Voting closes at 12 noon on Thursday 4 February.
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