LGBT+ History Month – Young People’s Responses
We have recently celebrated LGBT+ History Month. This year’s theme was Mind, Body and Soul: Claiming our past, celebrating our present and creating our future.
All month long, older LGBT+ people have been answering questions from the young people, and now we’ve turned the tables, and the Youth Pride group will be answering some questions in return.
We asked some of the 14-18 year olds to answer some questions posed to them from our older LGBT+ 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.
Lots of big companies have intercompany LGBTQ+ networks so I’m hoping it won’t be an issue.
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.
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.
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 LGBT+, do you find acceptance in the family and community?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Personally I found it harder to come out to myself than other people.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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 LGBT+ movement can help with broader activism?
I think that allies can help by learning more, spreading awareness, being supportive, and understanding how their perspective affects the LGBTQIA+ movement.
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.
Make us feel loved.
Are you aware of the political struggles of the past which brought us the rights and freedoms we have today?
I am aware of the political issues and how brave people were fighting for rights.
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.
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.
Manchester University accused of ‘wokery gone mad’
The University of Manchester has been slammed for advising the use of gender-neutral language such as “parent or guardian” instead of mother and father.
The university’s guidance on inclusive language circulated to staff on 10 March now encourages gender-neutral terms rather than those that make sex distinction.
It suggest staff use “everyone / colleagues” as opposed to ladies and gentlemen or guys, “partner” rather than husband or wife, and “sibling” rather than brother or sister.
Other suggestions include “workforce” instead of manpower, “humankind” instead of mankind and “artificial or synthetic” rather than man-made.
The guidance follows feedback from colleagues who suggested they would like more advice on which terms and language to use, the university said. Many of the terms were well established and had already been in general use for years.
But the move was fiercely criticised on social media after misleading reports that the university was “sidelining” or “scrapping” the term mother – despite a university spokesperson insisting that it has not actually banned any words.
Jonathan Gullis, Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, said the guidance amounted to “wokery gone mad”.
Right-wing journalist Toby Young told the BBC: “Instead of focusing on educational standards, or supporting those students who’ve been short-changed during the pandemic, Manchester has wasted time and money on producing a guide on how to speak woke-ish.
Young people hate it when you call them snowflakes, but Manchester has done its students no favours by suggesting they might be offended by words like ‘mother’ and ‘father.’”
A University of Manchester spokesperson said it had “simply produced a guidance document for our staff that encourages the use of more inclusive language to avoid bias or assumptions. In that, we recommend the use of the term ‘parent / guardian’,” they added. “This is well established terminology and does not in any way mean that we are banning the words ‘mother’ or ‘father.’”
“LGBT elders are still here. I’m still here.”
SAGE USA is a national advocacy and services organisation that’s been looking out for LGBT elders since 1978. They interviewed trans activist and icon Gloria Allen, affectionately known as Mama Gloria.
Mama Gloria is a Black trans woman and an elder. She is an inspiration and mentor to Chicago’s Black transgender community. Her experience of coming out in the 1960s and being immersed in Chicago’s South Side drag ball culture inspired her to become a proud leader, activist, and mentor in her community.
In her elder years, Mama Gloria founded and operated a charm school for homeless transgender youth at Chicago’s Centre on Halsted, offering lessons on love, makeup, and manners that she received from her mother and grandmother.
At 75 years old, Mama Gloria is a shining example of one of the countless vibrant and resilient LGBT pioneers who have been advocating since Stonewall – many who are also trans people of colour – and still passionately advocating for change.
Who is your LGBT role model and why?
“My LGBT role model is Wilbur ‘Hi-Fi’ White, who was an entertainer in Chicago when I was a teenager. He would host balls that I’d attend and he was so talented. He was in movies and TV, he told jokes, he sang, he acted. He was such an inspiration to me as someone who was part of the community, and who gave me and others the space to be who we are. I would love more people to know about him.”
What did it mean to you to see Kamala Harris become not only the first woman, but also the first Black woman Vice President?
“I was so glad that Biden chose a Black woman as his Vice President, and that the election went the way it did. The fact that Black women like Vice President Harris are getting the chance to step up and be recognised in this way is awesome. With Vice President Harris and the rest of the new administration, there are so many doors being opened for other leaders to be recognised, too. The fact that there is a transgender woman, Rachel Levine, nominated to be the assistant secretary of health is just so amazing. More and more, members of our community are getting recognised for our work and I’m so proud of that. We still have a long way to go, but these steps are wonderful.”
Lastly, what is something you are particularly passionate about as an advocate in the LGBT community?
“I’m an advocate for fighting against violence toward LGBT people, especially trans women. Black trans women are being murdered at an alarming rate and they don’t televise it on the news. We see coverage of other crimes, but not enough about what’s happening for LGBT people. The news needs to start doing a better job of fully exposing this pattern of hate and violence, and so do politicians.
Trans women need to be recognised – we need to be visible. There are too many instances of trans people being portrayed in media in ways that don’t accurately represent our community. We need to be more included in all media, not just special characters on TV shows. People need to see that trans people are much more than what they’ve seen on TV. We are so talented, and smart, and educated, and they need to see that – including us elders. The elders are still here. I’m still here.”
What is Manchester Village Stories?
Manchester Village Stories is a research project at The University of Manchester. They are interested in learning about:
- Your experiences of Manchester’s Gay Village;
- Why and how the Village is important for you as an LGBTQ+ space;
- If and how your everyday experiences and feelings about the village have changed over time; and
- How you think the Village should look in the future.
All are welcomed to participate, but we are particularly interested in hearing the stories and experiences of older LGBTQ+ people. This research will help to inform policy about urban development in Manchester.
Sharing your thoughts:
You may wish to share a memory from decades ago or even yesterday. Perhaps you would like to simply provide a word or reflection that springs to mind as you think about a particular part of the Village or surrounding area that is significant to you. You can share as many stories as you like. Here are some ideas for inspiration:
- Which parts of the Village (or surrounding area) are important to you and why?
- What is your most significant memory of the Village?
- What three words would you use to describe your experience of the village now, and in the past?
- Why and how do you use the Village now, and in the past?
- How might recent developments in the area impact the Village, your use of the space, and its relationship to the wider Manchester area?
For more information visit the website:
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