LGBTQIA + history month is important for a number of different reasons. Most people can name at least one, but not everyone knows about the biggest one. Not only is this a huge celebration of a group of people and their struggles, but it also highlights one of the biggest legal wins for our community here in the UK.
In order for us to understand a bit more about why this was a huge legal win, we need to go all the way back to 1988. In May 1988, Section 28 of the Local Government Act was enacted. This was brought in to “prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities”. This directly effected local councils who are responsible for things like social care and schools, which meant they couldn’t fund any material that helped people understand their sexuality, they couldn’t even have discussions with people who were questioning their sexuality and put a massive group of people at risk especially those in education around that time. Bullying in schools became the norm and teachers faced criminal charges for even consoling a victims of homophobia. The Prime Minister at the time, Margret Thatcher said “children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught they have an inalienable right to be gay. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life.”
All literature, media, and resources were abolished including basic things like sex education materials in schools, meaning many children lived in fear of abuse and bullying. For anyone growing up in the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s that didn’t conform to heteronormality, it meant constant confusion, hatred of one’s self and no guidance to understand who they were.
If we look at the turning point, this being the year 2000 in Scotland, and then 2003 for the rest of the UK, after decades of protests and fighting for basic human rights for the LGBTQIA+ youth, Section 28 was finally abolished. The government also introduced the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations which meant employers couldn’t use a person’s sexuality against them in the workplace. 2003 marks a momentous year for the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, as it saw children gain access to the resources and guidance needed in order to be treated in a similar way to those that who are straight, it also meant adults could be themselves more freely at work without the fear of discrimination.
So while yes, LGBTQIA+ Month is a HUGE celebration of its community members, it is also about remembering the prejudices of our past, and working collectively to make sure nothing like this happens again in the future, and to protect our community moving forward.
I am proud of who I am. I love who I am. I am important. I am wanted. I am loved. I am normal. These are the phrases I say to myself every day, especially during this month. Although I am not a child of this era, I came out only 6 years after this legal change and still received some of the hatred our community members faced during this part of our history. I also donate to Stonewall, an organisation committed to protecting LGBTQIA+ rights and fighting for a better world for our community. This particular resource has saved me on more than one occasion.
Being gay, has never and will never be a choice, and just because you are, doesn’t mean you’re not normal. The last 18 years have shown that we are moving towards bright and positive change, and I am hopeful for the future however it’s important to never forget that our community still faces threats every day.
My inbox is always open for anyone that would like to contact me to discuss their experiences and tell me how you celebrate; firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to remain anonymous, I can make that happen too. Remember, now is the time to celebrate who you are.