I remember a few years ago when there were so many jokes about the LGBT+ acronym and its potential variations (LGBTQIABC... and so on). Although I now tend to use LGBT+ or, as a maximum, LGBTQIA+ to discuss myself and those who fall under this label, it’s important to recognise that just because the acronym isn’t infinitely long, it doesn’t mean anyone should be excluded. For example, a lot of us know what the LGBT stands for (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) but, on the other hand, some may not know what falls under the plus. Personally, I think of the ‘+’ as incorporating anyone whose sexuality or gender identity doesn’t fit into society’s cisgender, heterosexual norms. However, before I really drill into this topic, it’s important to remember that while labels can give us a sense of community, they are still personal to each individual and we shouldn’t try to force people into a cage by imposing a label on them, or imposing an idea of what a label should mean. A non-binary person might not identity as trans; someone who says they’re 95% gay might identify as bisexual and so on.

"Since then, the history of LGBT+ people has been filled with progression and regression, joy and debilitating sorrow, but looking back at the Stonewall Riots and its legacy gives me hope for the future."

In the UK, we first saw a movement towards LGBT rights in 1967, when sexual activity between men was decriminalised in England and Wales - but we are still a long way from equality. One of the key events in LGBT+ history is the Stonewall Riots in the US. The Stonewall Inn was owned by a mafia crime family who converted the former restaurant into a gay bar in 1966. Many parts of the USA still had laws that banned physical homosexual relationships, and this was the case until 2003. Gay bars couldn’t get liquor licenses so were often raided. In 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn went wrong (for the police) and ended up sparking days of riots. LGBT+ people of colour were key to this uprising and some notable people are Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. A year later, the first gay pride was held, hence why Stonewall is so momentous for many in the LGBT+ community. Since then, the history of LGBT+ people has been filled with progression and regression, joy and debilitating sorrow, but looking back at the Stonewall Riots and its legacy gives me hope for the future.

One thing that some, but not all, LGBT+ people have experienced is ‘coming out’. Coming out is not compulsory and does not have to be made into a major thing if you don’t want it to be. Around people I’m comfortable with and I know are accepting, I tend to just slip it into conversation. I feel like the more we talk about being LGBT+ during our everyday conversations, the more accepting society might become. Currently, for those that do want to come out, choosing who and when is extremely important. Over half of LGBT+ people can’t be open with their families and LGBT+ young people make up a quarter of the youth homeless population.  Coming out can be great but it can change your life and relationships, for better or worse. Sometimes family and friends are accepting, loving and even pleased, but sometimes their responses may be clouded by the hateful rhetoric they’ve been taught. If that is the case, you may find that those people may be more accepting over time but, in the instances where that doesn’t happen, a sense of belonging to the LGBT+ community can be even more important.


Mountain View

What they don't tell you about gender

As well as being united by our LGBT+ identity, our community is filled with common experiences. Many people have experienced LGBT+phobia from those who aren’t LGBT+, however, one thing that has become increasingly apparent is the hate and lack of understanding that exists within our community. Although anyone can be discriminated against, I’ve personally seen a lot of transphobia, biphobia, ace/aro-phobia and racism.  The removal of Grindr’s ethnicity filter was long overdue, but obviously that doesn’t get rid of the discrimination that people of colour continue to face in the LGBT+ community. Over half of LGBT+ people of colour have experienced discrimination within the LGBT+ community and this is even higher for black trans people. I have seen people refuse to be with a person of colour, I’ve seen people of colour fetishized, and I’ve read too many stories about black trans people being murdered.

Being LGBT+ in our society is not easy. Over half of LGBT+ people have experienced depression and that raises to 62% of LGBT+ people of colour and 70% for trans and non-binary people. One in eight have had an eating disorder, one in six drink alcohol almost every day and one in three have thought about suicide. Our rights are seemingly up for debate by people who don’t necessarily care about us and discrimination persists. However, despite all that, I, and many others, are proud of who we are and I personally look forward to a time when society, as a whole, can appreciate that too.