I am an LGBT individual, and, as I write this, we are teetering on the edge of this year’s LGBT History Month. At this time of year, I find it important to acknowledge that there are issues to be confronted if our already strong community is to continue to grow. For example, as well as the obvious issues of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, there are also glaring problems of racial, ableist, and other such prejudices being targeted at already vulnerable LGBT people, coming not only from outside but also from within the confines of the initialism.
However, the attempts I’ve seen to bridge these gaps between us are not only encouraging, but exciting. Our very own University Union leads by impressive example. The events that will be taking place throughout February are kicked off with a women-centric club night, and include diverse panels, workshops, and performance nights, which tackle some of those issues that most threaten to divide us.
Crucially though, these events contain at their core a celebration of the past and enduring spirit of our community. The significance of this is that, while it is most certainly important to recognise and combat the intra-community issues that we face, it is similarly important that we acknowledge the power that the LGBT community has to support, to guide, and to empower.
An example that makes my heart heavy to bring up, but that so perfectly encapsulates these wonders of community, is the response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last year. After this horrific event had occurred, an almost overwhelming outpouring of support and generosity manifested in countless forms. Memorials took place all around the world, millions of dollars were donated to the victims and their families, and there was a swell of solidarity so huge that it would have taken the most hardened heart to not have been moved.
These acts of kindness and connections are ones that carry with them a sense of defiance and solidarity, and which say to our oppressors: “we have fought to be here, and we will fight again”. But that’s not all; these acts speak to those in the community who are most disillusioned or vulnerable, and act as a reminder that, despite our differences, we stand together.
Our community ties have been firmly cemented since the throwing of the brick that initiated the Stonewall Riots. Since then, many more pieces of our structure have joined that first brick, and have helped to build our community up on its foundations of strength and compassion. Admittedly, there are parts of this structure that sometimes threaten to crumble; but we are made of strong stuff. This LGBT History Month, remember that we are a community that exists despite the odds, made up of some of the most brave individuals. The more that we grow and learn and improve, the closer we will get to ensuring that no LGBT person really has to be alone.
Aiden Alexander Wynn
(Image courtesy of Swansea University)