Each February LGBT+ History Month is celebrated in the UK. It is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. The overall aim of LGBT+ History month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. This year’s LGBT+ History Month theme is Mind, Body and Soul: Claiming our past, celebrating our present and creating our future.
To mark LGBT History Month this year, the Youth Pride MCR group wanted to learn more about the history of their community and acknowledged a lack of LGBTQ+ role models in their lives. This intergenerational, youth-led project aims to connect our community at an important time, when we are all suffering loneliness and feeling a sense of disconnection, and to learn more about what life was like for LGBTQ+ people in years gone by.
All year round, Youth Pride MCR workshops offer the chance for young LGBTQ+ people and their allies to connect with each other across Greater Manchester. The group spends time playing games, getting creative with zine making, poetry and choreography and learning about the LGBTQ+ community through special guest appearances and interviews.
For LGBT+ History Month this year, older LGBTQ+ people answered questions from the young people, and now we’ve turned the tables, and the Youth Pride group are answering some questions in return. We asked some of our 14-18 year olds to answer some questions posed to them from our older LGBTQ+ community. If you think ahead to when you get a job and start your career, how do you expect being gay to impact your career choices? And how you think your future employers will react to you being gay?Mo:
Lots of big companies have intercompany LGBTQ+ networks so I'm hoping it won't be an issue.Jude:
I'm hoping it won't be a big deal, but I am a little scared about having to constantly be coming out to any colleagues or bosses throughout my life.Steph:
I would like to be a police officer in the future and I was originally scared to be gay and have this career path but now i am alright with it as today's society is more accepting.Sabrina:
I'm very thankful for previous generations paving the way to create safe spaces in the workplace and being role models. How do you find it growing up now as LGBTQ+, do you find acceptance in the family and community?Chris:
There's a lot more acceptance / not caring I think, but there's still people who say stupid stuff which make you scared. It's still really scary to come out, I'm still scared about people not accepting me, but I think it is easier.Sam:
I live in a small village so there isn’t many queer people or groups which makes it harder to come out. And it’s not spoken about at school. Jude:
My family quickly came around and my friends were immediately accepting. strangers in the community can be negative but I have strong support networks to turn to. Mo:
I think it's so much easier now as many young people have access to things like GSA clubs at school and have more confidence in who they want to be.Sabrina:
My family is very accepting of everyone however I haven’t found the confidence to come out to them yet. When young people hear these stories about the inequalities we faced, are you surprised or shocked by our stories? Is it something that you’re aware of? Sabrina:
I am shocked; it's easy to just be in the present and consider what it's like to be LGBTQ+ now, and forget what happened not so long ago. I'm also really shocked by how much I don't know about it.Mo:
I was surprised but not surprised at the same time, if that makes sense. I expected injustice, but reading the stories made it more real.Chris:
It is upsetting to hear the struggles of others but I am not shocked by it because discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community has always been present.Jude:
When I hear about the stories it does make me really sad and somewhat guilty as we have it so easy now compared to then. Steph:
It makes me very upset thinking what people had to go through for something they couldn’t help. There is (still) no education in school however, I had to do my own research.Do you feel like it’s easier to come out now, does it feel like part of everyday life? Sam:
It is a lot easier to come out now compared to the past however I still haven’t come out as I worry about the people who are homophobic in my area and school.Chris:
Personally I found it harder to come out to myself than other people.Mo:
I feel that coming out is definitely easier now than it was in the past; however, there are still people who aren't accepting. Overall, though, it's much safer and easier to come out now.Jude:
Being gay was something I always tried to hide but then in high school I was surrounded by teachers who were such role models and made me confident in who I am.Steph:
Yeah I feel comfortable telling people about my sexuality, for gender it's more difficult because I don't fully understand it myself I suppose and it's a hard concept to explain.Have you identified for yourself who you want to be?Sam:
I roll with the punches; I haven't yet planned out everything that I want my life to be. I think that with more self-discovery, I'll be able to figure out who exactly I want to be!Mo:
I have identified I want to be happy in the future and love myself and if that's in a career I want or being open as a part of the LGBTQ community then yay!Steph:
I'm just going with the flow really, I don't want to restrict my view of myself, and my opportunities and possible life paths.Sabrina:
Not really, but I definitely feel a lot more at home in my skin than a few years ago, before coming out to myself and my important people. I know what I want to do with my life. That feels like enough for now, I'll figure the rest out as I go.How do you think your allies in the LGBTQ+ movement can help with broader activism?Steph:
I think that allies can help by learning more, spreading awareness, being supportive, and understanding how their perspective affects the LGBTQIA+ movement.Sam:
Thinking more about how different activist groups can help each other, there's so much linking as minorities, or groups who have to fight so hard for what is right. Understanding and helping each other to make change, whether that's in BLM movements, LGBTQ+ rights or fighting the climate crisis etc.Jude:
Make us feel loved.Are you aware of the political struggles of the past which brought us the rights and freedoms we have today?Sabrina:
I am aware of the political issues and how brave people were fighting for rights.Jude:
Yes, although I think looking back you can miss how long it takes for change to come around, how much fighting is needed. I understand rights being taken away because of other countries not having the same rights we have. It makes me really sad about the freedoms being taken away, so much progress going backwards.Chris:
Yes, but I'm always keen to learn more about our history and fights that we have won and their relation to how we must act today, the fragility of our rights is something which scares me and what pushes me towards a career in politics.You can find more information about Youth Pride MCR on our website here.Follow the group on instagram at @YouthPride_MCR!