Iris C. Maxfield argues that LGBT+ History Month will always be a crucial reminder and celebration of LGBT+ people around the world.
As February draws to a close so too does LGBT+ History Month, that has seen celebrations on our campus, across the country and the world. At UoB, the LGBT+ Society and SU Network have held a variety of events including talks and panels about a host of topics effecting LGBT+ individuals. For some in the UK and the Global North, these celebrations seem unnecessary as we have seen a number of key legislations passing in recent years. However, for the improvements we have made in the rights of LGBT+ people so too have we seen massive barriers, and disappointments in this story. The education and celebration of LGBT+ History Month should not be coming to an end anytime soon, but grow louder and reach more people.
"Ann Widdecombe's vocal bigotry during her time in the house displayed what a lot of the public do still believe and the aggression towards LGBT+ people"
Within our borders, conversations about gender and sexuality have been furthered, remarkably, by Celebrity Big Brother- no I didn't predict it either. But, the conversations between openly pansexual and gender queer, Courtney Act, and former MP, Ann Widdecombe, have opened dialogue about LGBT+ rights that no one predicted. Widdecombe's vocal bigotry during her time in the house displayed what a lot of the public do still believe and the aggression towards LGBT+ people. These views continue to damage the lives of young people trying to come out and put them in danger. Research by Albert Kennedy Trust, shows LGBT+ young people disproportionately make up homeless youth in our country. Lack of education is still putting too many young people in life altering, life threatening situations.
"The Conservatives may have been the party in power during UK adoption of same-sex marriage, but anti-LGBT+ views are still prominent within our political system"
A visitor to UoB this month was Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who came to speak after a recent eventful visit to UWE. Tipped as likely next candidate for Tory party leader and by extension a possible future PM, the devout Catholic MP is opposed to gay marriage, views he expresses in his Parliamentary votes. The Conservatives may have been the party in power during UK adoption of same-sex marriage, but anti-LGBT+ views are still prominent within our political system and held by the people we elect. Our Parliament includes more LGB politicians than ever before, though we still have no transgender MPs.
The Wills Memorial Building is a beautiful feature of the campus @BristolUni, even more so when lit up with rainbow light. With February being LGBT+ History Month, here's an amazing photo of the famous tower lit up for Bristol's Pride 🏳️🌈⠀— Campusboard (@campusboardHQ) February 10, 2018
📸 carolyn.eaton⠀ pic.twitter.com/rWpR4K7AO4
Another visitor to Bristol this month was Stuart Milk, LGBT+ activist and nephew of assassinated politician Harvey Milk. We need more individuals like Milk, promoting the rights of all individuals, their safety and their right to be free from discrimination. LGBT+ History Month is a chance for debate and to remind us while great change has taken place, we have a long way to go.
"This LGBT+ History Month has been a great one in Bristol and by no means the last as amazing students and staff will continue to fight for their rights"
Around the world, we have, unfortunately, seen steps back in LGBT+ rights. In 2013, India chose to recriminalize LGB rights, meaning 1/5 individuals in the world live in a country where being in a same-sex relationship is punished. Under the Trump and Pence administration, American LGBT+ individuals feel threatened and victimised, with the future of transgender service people uncertain. In the weekly LGBT+ Society newsletter, we include positive news stories to share with members. There are always exciting articles describing great work, but it only has happened and continues to happen with continued, persistent activism. This LGBT+ History Month has been a great one in Bristol and by no means the last as amazing students and staff will continue to fight for their rights, spread stories of activism and inspire others to continue the work of great individuals.
Featured image: Unsplash/Sharon Mcrutcheon