Behind the lens – LGBT+History Month with Lucy Foley
Mind BLMK celebrates inclusion and diversity amongst its service users, staff, and volunteers.
To not give away my actual age and put it into context, I was born just 4 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland and unfortunately, I was only 2 weeks away from turning 18 to vote for the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland in 2015. As the theme this year is ‘Behind the Lens’, I think it’s important for me to reflect on the limited media representation of LGBTQ+ individuals whilst growing up in Ireland.
I can remember my earliest experience of same-sex representation on RTE’s Fair City which is like the BBC’s Eastenders here in the UK and I recall vividly two family members turning over the channel whilst a scene of two gay men sharing a kiss happened.
I am fortunate that these family members are accepting of my sexuality and identity today but it is also important to acknowledge the history behind their perceptions and experiences with consideration of the laws they grew up with.
In 2021, I was the subject of two homophobic verbal attacks in the UK which for the first time in years of my identity triggered an internal conflict of my own acceptance but I actually found great comfort through current film, TV representations, and literature.
Anne Lister’s diaries which are now coined ‘The Rosetta Stone of Lesbian History’ are momentous recorded pieces of gender and sexuality history. Anne Lister was a 19th-century landowner who was renowned for dressing in all black and was attributed the nickname ‘Gentleman Jack’ which is now depicted today in a popular BBC TV series. Anne Lister wrote diaries in Greek and Latin numeric lettered code because whilst female homosexuality was never technically illegal, it was severely frowned upon.
The diaries predominately reported her lesbian relationships but also her health and wealth which for a woman back then, was a real intertwined complexity. What I found comfort in these diaries was that Anne described her attraction to women as an ‘oddity’ but she strongly felt that this was completely natural for her to experience. I took away reassurance that I can’t change my sexuality and gender identity but rather accept that this is something for me to be proud of and to continue to fight for. The united nations have now formally recognised Anne’s diaries and they are included in the online archive of historic UK materials.
The diaries also highlighted that every person in our community has had their own unique experiences of fighting for equality whether that is the brave people before us who fought for the right to be acknowledged, those of us who have an internal fight within ourselves to be accepted, those who fight with family for simple love and understanding, those who fight with the law to be treated as equals and even those who fight with others who think our love is wrong.
To read more about the hidden gay history of the Rosetta Stone: Click here
To celebrate LGTBQ + History month, I am going to get involved in activities in my local community. Proud Ampthill and Flitwick have just recently launched support for residents in the local areas and they are holding a LGBTQ + history Month Reception at the Rufus Centre on February 9th from 6pm -8pm. This is not only an opportunity to meet new people but also learn about our communities past, present and future plans. It can be really daunting even as an individual who identifies as LGBTQ + to attend events like this which is why one of my friends, who is such a supportive ally is going to attend alongside me in the evening.
In summary, what LGBTQ + month means to me, is about overcoming those hardships and choosing love going forward. The baton has well and truly been passed from everyone who has had to fight before us and we are still fighting. There is still a journey to the finish line of equality but LGBTQ + history month and Pride month highlight that we still need to come together as family, friends, communities, and even workplaces to keep the momentum going. I’ve been very fortunate to work for an organisation like Mind BLMK, that celebrates inclusion and diversity amongst its service users, staff and volunteers.
There is nice summary of LGBTQ + month that I came across about claiming our past, celebrating our present and creating our future which is a great reminder that in the face of adversity, we have all got the capability to be the masters of our own destiny.
Lucy Foley, Assistant Crisis Service Development Manager
To read more about LGBT+ History Month: Click Here
Information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+).
If you have any experiences or stories that you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.
LGBT+ History Month will always be important to Mind. It’s a moment for us to celebrate the history and the progress that’s been made by LGBTQIA+ people, and to lift up their stories about how mental health affects them. However you identify, we’re here to celebrate you. And fight for your mental health..
Posted on: 1st February 2023