LGBT History Month Guest Blog: What are you doing to help shape history?
Hi everyone. I’m Craig, vice chair and chair-elect of Tai Pawb. I’ve been asked to prepare a blog for LGBT History Month – when the LGBT community and our allies come together to celebrate and reflect on all that it is to be Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Trans.
So, where do I start? I’m not the kind of person who’d generally spend too much time looking back over history. Much more important to me is looking forward and what should happen next. History, for me, is also about making history, however big or small, righting wrongs, progress, bringing about greater equality and empowering or inspiring our community to move forward.
That said, a delve into the past and reflecting on the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made, the activists that went before us to give us the rights that we enjoy today and celebrating them is hugely important. Our history is not something to be brushed over.
A sharp reminder of how life was for the LGBTQ+ community in the 80s and 90s was recently depicted in the brilliantly scripted ‘It’s a Sin’ by Russell T Davies. Having lived through that period (my ‘coming out’ years), lost a couple of friends to AIDS-related illnesses and recalling how my community was depicted, feared and vilified, the TV series made me reflect on the importance of our history.
My memory had diluted some of the things that were happening in our recent past. I felt some personal shame that that I had allowed that dilution to happen. I saw that many young adults were commenting with surprise at the discrimination and harassment that we suffered at that time. I heard shock at the media’s portrayal and the condemnation. Others commented on the resonance of the ‘then and now’ approach to dealing with a pandemic. Whatever you took from the series, for me it was a painful reminder of the importance of history.
If you’re still reading, well done. History is a reminder of things in the past so as an optimist so I’m going to make the rest of this blog a bit more positive and tell you what I’ve got in store for the future – how making history, however small, will hopefully inspire you to do something positive – whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally.
I’m also Deputy Chair of LGBTQYMRU and we’re launching the first ever all-Wales and fully bilingual LGBTQ+ on-line magazine on 26 February. Now that’s making history! If you want to be a great ally and get to know the issues, subscribe for your free copy at https://www.lgbtqymru.wales/ or follow us on our socials @LGBTQymru
I’m also Chair of South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus. Over the past few years a few dedicated activists have been trying to revive the vigil at the Aids Remembrance Tree in Gorsedd Gardens, Cardiff. Did you know it existed? It was a huge and important vigil in the 90s with hundreds attending annually and then it fizzled away. Now it’s being revived and we, as a chorus, have committed to supporting this on World Aids Day on 1st December.
Another thing I’ll be doing, hopefully to right a terrible injustice, is to continue campaigning to stamp out transphobia. Our trans and non-binary siblings have had to endure the most terrible hatred over the last few years and we have to do more to support and empower them to live lives without fear and prejudice.
When I worked at the Senedd, I led our approach on LGBT inclusion for over a decade and in 2018 we became the UK’s most LGBT inclusive organisation in Stonewall’s workplace equality index. That year we also became the Top Trans Employer. In my heart, I knew that if the Welsh Parliament could lead the way on this, and demonstrate the benefits of an inclusive culture, then others would follow our example.
This wasn’t something we threw money at, this was about planning, leadership, incremental changes, commitment. These are things that the housing sector in Wales is well tuned into. If you got this far into the blog then I hope I’ve inspired you to contribute to making your community, tenant group or workplace more inclusive.
A small thing like wearing a rainbow lanyard, saying ‘I’m an ally to the LGBT community’ in your Email signature or sharing a social media post demonstrating your individual or corporate support can have a huge impact. And you don’t only have to confine your support to February either. We’re here, sitting next to you, all year ‘round.
So my question to you is – what are you going to do to help celebrate LGBT History Month, and to shape history?