Angelle reflects on this years LGBT History Month, what has been different this year, and what it has meant to the LGBTQ+ community.
As the pandemic followed us into 2021, it has become more important than ever to find positivity and light in the annual moments where we once celebrated and socialised with our close ones. LGBT History Month was no different; usually a month filled with rainbows, joy and a refresh of history and community pillars, this year connected virtually with friends and communities. But this did not stop the amount of awareness raised and highlighted even more how crucial the month was.
Throughout lockdown many people from the LGBTQ community have struggled at a high rate with mental health issues. A study of LGBTQ people’s experience during the pandemic by University College London (UCL) and Sussex University, found that 69% of those who responded suffered depressive symptoms, which increased to 90% for those who had experienced homophobia or transphobia.
This links to the Guardian’s callout where many younger people said they had been unable to access the support of LGBTQ peers or allies while with their families, and ‘those who had moved in with relatives during lockdown felt they were being pushed back into the closet.’
However moving online meant that this years LGBTQ History Month (February) could reach further, making it its biggest year yet. From extended virtual events to the showing of TV series ‘It’s a Sin’ on Channel 4 to an OUTing The Past festival.
Seeing this awareness and the above statistics made me think of our local organisations that do great work to support LGBTQ people all year round. Last year, Outreach Youth managed to squeeze in, a pre-pandemic event at Ipswich Art School. For some of the young people in that group, it may have been the last event they attended with their friends in such a supported environment. It has now nearly been a year since which shows how vital it is we support organisations like Outreach Youth but also our young people who identify as LGBTQ, so as lockdown eases and the world shifts again, they feel safe, wanted and thrive in our society.
I also want to take this time to highlight the work of House Of Guramayle , a safe space for the Ethiopian LGBTIQ+ Community, who are currently raising awareness to the sexual violence happening in Tigray. They have said ‘Sexual violence is a disturbing and preventable presence that is unfortunately woven into the fabric of life and this needs to urgently change. Sexual violence is also an act of war intended to dehumanise people and it severely impacts the most marginalised groups during times of conflict. We call for an end to violence in all its forms and for centring the sanctity of human life. This campaign is part of wider efforts to spread awareness of the ongoing conflicts in Tigray, to amplify the voices of assault survivors and to seek accountability for the countless atrocities being committed. You can help to support the Tigray Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund here.
If you’re part of a local LGBTQ+ organisation or project we’d love to hear about the work you do. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on social media @ipswichcm