LGBT+ History Month | Intersectionality
At our Unity lunches when sister Farhat calls on us to explain what Unity means to me I look around the room and celebrate how different we all are - in ways that are both visible and invisible. I lament the ways in which difference is so often used as an excuse for division, for rejection, for exclusion, for the building of barriers between us. My desire, as a member of the Unity community, is to celebrate the one thing that unites above all else - our common humanity. I love our community for its shared desire to celebrate the richness of what it means to be a human being. That’s why in February I shall be marking LGBT+ History Month.
Our different sexual identities are part of the richness of human experience. The overall aim of LGBT+ History month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. It does this in part by raising awareness on matters affecting the LGBT+ community and promoting the welfare of LGBT+ people.
The LGBT+ community has adopted the rainbow as a powerful symbol of the richness of human sexual identity. For the LGBT+ community is a signal of inclusion and welcome and safety.
“When flown outside businesses, or placed in shop windows, it tells LGBT people they can relax, and feel safe to do what others’ take for granted: to hold hands or kiss their partners, to rent a hotel room together, to book a table for Valentine’s day, to demonstrate their love without hate. As an image, it reminds us of not only the diversity of sexual orientation but also of the diversity of human characteristics as a whole.” from the LGBT+ History Month website.
Some of you may recall when I began wearing my University ID badges on a Rainbow lanyard. I owned the lanyard for a while before I started to wear it. I had wrestled with myself about the messages people might read when they saw it. Initially, I confess, I was anxious - what if they think I’m gay? Thankfully, it didn’t take me too long to expand that question and turn it on myself: indeed, so what if they do think I’m gay? I awoke to the realisation that other questions were much more important. What if they think I stand for love, not hate? What if they think I stand for inclusion and not exclusion? What if they can feel safe with me to be truly themselves? What if they see an ally in me and not a critic or worse?
So now I wear my rainbow lanyard with pride (pun intended). I am proud to declare my desire to be an ally, not least because too many people have seen another symbol I wear proudly – my clerical collar - as signalling rejection or disapproval. I also wear the rainbow as a challenge to myself constantly to recognise the privilege from which I benefit, the microaggressions I certainly commit and the bias that lies within me – some undoubtedly unconscious but also much that is all too easily conscious! And with the recognition the hard work begins… Wanting to be an ally is not the same thing as actually being an ally!
Marking LGBT+ History month is part of my learning how to be an ally to all who need an ally – which for is another way of saying how to be a good neighbour, a fellow human. Will you join me in the spirit of Unity?