This June has been the busiest Pride I have ever been involved in and I have attended a load of further counselling CPD’s as well as some more relaxed events. It’s been amazing that all these voices, courses, and discourses have become so accessible. Possibly one of the main advantages of current times has been the rising of internet sharing platforms, helping those that may not have such a high audiences, rise in numbers and awareness – it has been truly epic.
Throughout the month there were many discussions about LGBTQ+ matters and black lives matter. Some of the panellists and resources shared were focused on current issues that have sadly surfaced throughout the month, and many also looked back at long needed discussions as well as highlighting history. It wasn’t just those identifying as LGBTQ+ at these events, and many were Allies, who were seeking better understanding to support the LGBTQ+ community.
So much was covered at each Zoom, podcast, course, facebook live, and other networking happening, that it was impossible to attend them all. The amazing thing is that many are recorded for future access, and those that weren’t were so taken by the use of online platforms, that they will be spreading positive Pride messages throughout the year – not just June.
What did I take away from all these events you’re probably wondering?
Well, the greatest thing I learned was how Allies wish to support many who identify as Queer. In my life I don’t have much access with people outside of the LGBTQ+ identifying family, and I often forget what may be going on outside of this unit of diverse LGBT+ individuals. With my sexuality and gender identity occurring very young I was lucky due to homelessness that I could express and explore my pansexuality and polyamory within a group of friends with similar ethos. Many of those I engage in (apart from when teaching fitness) identify within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Pretty much everyone within my circle, where sexuality and gender would be discussed, are LGBTQ+ and I love this, but I had forgotten about what those who aren’t LGBTQ+ may be thinking about when it comes to these differing views.
Within each event I listened to views, stories, concerns, and ideas that I as an insider may of thought of differently. The Allies were generally willing to learn, but also worried about messing up too. I learned so much from these individuals, and it made me realise that we are all worried about messing up due to human errors no matter who we are, but the willingness to learn and overcome barriers was immense. Their thoughts and input on discussion was so valid, it made me look into ways I honestly haven’t thought of when bridging the gap. And, if events and courses like these continue throughout the whole year, not just June, I believe amazing things can come from it all for all.
There are many advantages to being a LGBTQ+ Ally, and many benefits to getting to know a LGBTQ+ Ally if you identify as within the Queer umbrella.
Some Simple Ways To Identify An Ally / Express You’re One:
- Use or look for rainbow / pride flags in email signatures.
- Use or look for pronouns in social media.
- Do blog posts about being an Ally.
- Add a list to LGBTQ+ support websites to a blog post or resource.
- Take LGBTQ+ focused courses and share on Linkedin / CV.
- Help celebrate LGBTQ+ months and international awareness days.
Sure, these are the utter basics, but they are some of the first steps someone can easily perform via the internet. Integrating small steps are the stepping stones towards bigger steps. I wish everyone willing to incorporate these steps luck. Hoping they will continue on exploring more questions they think of or are handed, within the LGBTQ+ community with acceptance and openness.
One reoccurring theme that popped up was the use of language.
We discussed pronouns and even how historical English literature used gender neutral pronouns on many occasions. Some highlighted the use of slurs, and then, came in the integrated awareness and progression of turning slurs into reclaimed words of power.
I’m forever becoming aware of the use of LGBTQ+ language and sex toy reviews, such as male masturbators vs penis sex toys. In a short twitter poll I ran 39% said they preferred the term “penis sex toys”, and 46% said they still liked “male masturbators” more as wording. But this does show that there’s an almost equal percentage of people wishing for gender neutral terms, and something I will be looking into more over the next year.
There was one term we use a lot within sex and gender positivity that I hadn’t thought about before, that we may be using too often, in a negative manner.
That word is: “Normalise”.
Professor Sue Sanders, one of the founders of LGBT+ History Month within the UK and USA pointed out within the Pride in Education workshops that the word “normalise”, was often over used and often in the wrong way. Sue stated, that the word “normal”, suggest that there may have been something abnormal in the first place, but that many LGBTQ+ identifying people are normal individuals and that their genders and sexualities are just as normal and valid as the rest of the world. Sue suggested the use of the word “Usualise”, a term she coined and has started to adopt within her LGBT+ work.
The reason behind the word “Usualise”, is not just due to the negative possibilities that the term “normalise” can carry, but it’s to help promote and use LGBT+ people and facts within education in general. The current education taught within many demographics generally is still largely based on heteronormative material, and that using a LGBT+ past influencer on history, literature, religion, and more, can just help naturally integrate acceptance into education. Saying that yes there were LGBT+ people in the past and that it is not just a modern-day phase that’d we’d grow out of.
And, Sue’s right, we’re not abnormal, we’re normal.
Addressing small parts like this can also reduce backlash, and help support people who would normally feel that their cis-normative and heteronormative identity is being pushed to the side due to LGBT+ awareness. We can all be a part of history and education with equality.
What do I look forward to next year for Pride 2021?
This year many did a wonderful job of throwing events together at short notice. It really showed how strong the community is and how much power we all have when we work together.
However, I did miss some things, as I sadly didn’t come across any Polyamory events. I also noticed that there was a big gap in LGBTQ+ and disabilities, which I’d love to see more events focused on next year.
Hopefully in 2021 we will be able to take to the streets to celebrate once again. If this does happen though, I’m hoping we still have so many fabulous online events as it opens up doors to many who struggle with accessible LGBTQ+ support.