CW: This article discusses topics of violence that may be distressing to some readers.
Throughout history the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) community has been oppressed by laws, and individuals, who didn't agree with their way of life. Through protests, and the formation of organisations, the community has come closer to equality. There is however, still room for progress. Alarmingly, It was only in the last decade same sex marriage was legalised in the UK. Women's equality Minister, Maria Miller, responded to the legalisation in 2013.
"Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates our societies respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality. This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people's lives".
The LGBT+ community fought against society, and battled laws to be accepted and celebrated, rather than oppressed. In the 1964, the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC) was founded for legal, and social equality for lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual people. It is also known as the Campaign of Homosexuality. The Beaumont Society formed in 1966 to raise awareness of transgender people. In 1967 the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised sex between two men over 21, as long as it was in private.
The LGBT+ pride month takes place in June in America, remembering the Stonewall riots in 1969. In New York police and law enforcement raided gay clubs, including the Stonewall Inn, claiming they were disorderly. The raid resulted in days of protests and violent clashes between authorities, and the gay community. The Stonewall uprising was seen to be one of the most important events, and catalyst for gay rights movements in the US and the world.
In 1978 Gilbert Baker designed the LGBT+ flag, choosing the design because,
"It fits all of us, it represents all the genders, it represents all the races, it's the rainbow of humanity".
Men who had sex with other men, labelled (MSM), were banned from donating blood in 1985. This was due to fear of HIV. In 1988 Sir Ian McKellen founded Stonewall UK. It was the largest LGBT organisation in Europe, and was made to fight the Introduction of Section 28 of the Local Government Act. The act banned the promotion of homosexuality, and the teachings of it in any maintained school. In 1992, the World Health Organisation declassifies homosexuality as a mental illness. Trans children support group Mermaids was formed in 1995, to help trans children and spread awareness.
In the 2000's, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people could now serve in the army, section 28 was repealed, and same sex couples had equal rights for adaption as straight couples. The 2010's saw (MSM) legally allowed to donate blood, only if there was no sexual activity within 12 months. Stonewall UK launched, "Gay let's get over it", in schools to address homophobia. Brighton saw Europe's first trans pride march in 2013. where 450 attendees took part. London saw 1,500 attendees in 2019 for the city's first march.
As mentioned, same sex marriage was legalised in 2013, taking effect in 2014. The children and social work bill is amended. This made sex and relations mandatory teachings in schools. In the late 2010's, the 1-year ban on (MSM) donating is reduced to 3 months, and the World Health Organisation declassifies transgender as a mental illness. Throughout history, progress has gradually been made from individuals sparking the community to come together, but there is still a lot to do.
5 Figures of History that you should know about
Karl Heinrich Ulrich was said to be the first gay rights activist. He spoke out for homosexual rights in 1867, urging the German government to repeal anti-homosexuality laws. He produced 12 volumes of work on sexuality.
Barbara Gittings, was regarded as the mother of LGBT civil rights movements. In 1958 she started the Daughters Of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian civil rights organisation in the US.
Harvey Milk established himself as a leading political activist for the gay community. He became the first openly gay person elected to office in San Francisco. His legacy continued to be celebrated in books and films.
Audre Lorde a feminist, librarian, womanist, civil rights activist, and ally of LGBT+ described herself as a
"Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet".
She used her platforms to speak out for the voiceless against racism, homophobia, sexism, and classism. Her legacy is still influential in the African American, LGBTQ+ community, and the female populations. She uplifted groups society looked down on.
Christine Jorgenson became a celebrity, when news of her two-year gender transition into a woman became known. She was not the first transgender woman, but the most publicly recognised. When returning, she was met with both positive, and negative reactions from the press. Described to have a physiological illness, and said to be neither 100% man or women, she responded
"What people don't understand is the important thing is identity, you do it because of who you are".
All these individuals were inspirational to others. They placed roots on which the LGBTQIA communities could help flourish, as they make themselves known, seen, and accepted throughout society.
What still needs to be done
In the 21st century, no country in Europe has laws against homosexuality. However, many counties around the world still have laws against it. Out of 195 countries, 71 countries in parts of Africa, Asia, and America still have laws against gay sex, falling behind with modern ideals. Many people in the LGBTQIA communities still receive hate, and discrimination because of who they are. It needs to be fought out of society.
58% of American LGBT+ people have been subject to slurs, 42% believe their orientation makes a difference in their lives, 30% does not believe the entertainment industry is friendly towards them, and 51% believe they need to make changes in their lives for equality. There are many more stats, all showing there is still plentiful room for progress for equality, as there has been throughout all of history.
How to help the march towards progress
Methods have been explored to help the LGBTQIA. These include simple but hugely impactful things like,
Notice slurs and challenge them. Terms such as "gay", and "fag", are used as insults and remain unchallenged by peers. When people are challenged for using slurs, they will realise they can no longer use the offensive terms.
Create safe spaces for LGBT+ people, where they feel included and comfortable.
Speak up for the oppressed, and drowned out oppression by challenging stereotypes, and discrimination.
Teach others about LGBTQIA, so they have a clearer understanding of the communities, and become knowledgeable about the members.
Support people whilst they develop self-expression. Help people understand there is no harm when expressing themselves.
Join the pride marches and parades. This show support for the communities whether you are a part of it or not.
The main way to support the community is by coming together, welcoming each other, and supporting one another whilst fighting back oppression. This way progress will be made, oppression will be ejected from society, and complete equality for LGBTQIA+ will be reached.