LGBT+ History Month
‘There’s no representation.’
You’ll have heard these words before, perhaps you’ve said them, or shouted them. There are lots of reasons why LGBTQ+ representation isn’t what it should be, and a huge contributor to the marginalisation of the rainbow community was section 28.
If you’ve never heard of it, section 28 was a clause in the Local Government Act 1988, which meant that a ‘local authority…’ shall not ‘intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.’ On the 20th February the same year, tens of thousands of people marched in protest in one of the biggest LGBTQ+ demonstrations that the UK has ever seen. Despite this, the law remained in place across the parts of UK until 18th November 2003. For UK churches in 2021 this clause might not be written in law, but in some of the contexts that we operate in, it might as well be.
That’s why it’s so important that School’s Out is able to co-ordinate LGBT+ History Month every February, with the aims of increasing visibility and making educational spaces safe for LGBTQ+ people. Their website is packed with resources, posters, merchandise and virtual events (to name a few), which you can find through the links below.
This years’ theme is Body, Mind & Spirit and has a particular focus on physical and mental health, an area of huge importance at the moment. The resources create space to reflect on our own wellbeing, but I hope that the reminders of the 1988 protests instil in us a sense of hope, that while we still have a long way to go, much has changed. Among Baptists, the tradition I am a part of, a recent LGBTQ+ justice group was formed among Ministers to explore how we can be pastoral, prophetic and practical in our tradition. I am part of a community called Wild & Holy, a safe space that was created through local church engagement with Southend Pride, which is made up of creative, prayerful activists able to offer a support network to each other, and an alternative to the overwhelming, conservative narrative of the inherited church. One Body One Faith recently launched Space to Be, a reflective online space that will continue throughout lockdown and creates opportunities to socialise and meditate in a time when isolation otherwise dominates. Creating Sanctuary, a wealth of resources exploring inclusion, has been engaged with internationally, as the core group seeks to make churches safe. Among all that is going on, there is a place for you, too.
I hope you read this and are encouraged; things are changing. Admittedly it is painful and frustrating and excruciatingly slow at times, but we have an opportunity every LGBT+ history month to look back with gratitude and acknowledge that we aren’t where we were, and we won’t stay where we are.