Returning volunteer, Chloë Morgan, shares what it is like to be LGBTQ+ in 2020.
It’s that time of year again. No, stop thinking with your stomach – I don’t mean pancake day. And no, not Valentine’s Day either. Although it is linked to the L word. But a different kind…
It’s time to celebrate ‘the gays’, and everyone else in between! It’s time to celebrate everyone who falls under the rainbow; or, in other words, the LGBTQ+ umbrella. That’s right, February is LGBTQ+ History Month. But what does it even mean to be LGBTQ+ in 2020?
Being LGBTQ+ is a lot more than it says on the tin. It is being able to express your true self in whatever way you feel is right. It isn’t just about being ‘gay’ or ‘trans’; it isn’t just a label. It is learning to understand and accept your own sexuality and/or gender identity, whilst also educating yourself on that of others. It is being you in the form that is most comfortable, or most safe, to you.
But now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. LGBTQ+ is an initialism, which acknowledges and celebrates a wide range of sexualities and gender identities in our society. It stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and the plus considers the many other identities, including Intersex, Asexual and Pansexual, etc. Each of these has its own definition, for example, bisexual is defined as being: “sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.”; however, each person is free to define their sexuality in a way that they feel comfortable.
The thing we tend to forget is that gender and sexuality aren’t black and white. They’re a rainbow remember! Keep up! They are often described as a spectrum, meaning they aren’t clear-cut; they overlap; the definitions can become a bit blurred. They can also be fluid. No, not that kind of fluid – get your minds out the gutter! Fluid in the sense that they are not always fixed; they can change over time. If you’re a bit confused, do not fret. It can be confusing, but that’s okay. That’s the beauty of it.
Now, let’s go back to the very beginning. Right back to before ‘the gays’ existed. (Or, maybe no one spoke about it? But that’s a different debate.) Let’s ask ourselves a question: why is it that anything other than heterosexuality and being cisgender is frowned upon and discriminated against? Well, why is anything ever discriminated against? Because it’s different, or not the social norm. There we go then.
Since the day we leave the womb, our sex is given a gender. Penis equals boy; vagina equals girl; intersex babies are forced to be one or the other. And that’s that. But who said what’s between our legs defines who we are as individuals? Aged three, the boy is asked if he has a girlfriend; the girl is asked if she has a boyfriend. Society tells us what we should be. Society tells us who we should love.
So, what do we do? At Loughborough’s LGBT+ Association’s event PROUD the other night, a poet put it perfectly: “our existence is resistance”. And that’s exactly it. We are exceptions to the rule. Us LGBTQ+ people are standing up against society and saying no. We are breaking the ‘norm’; we are breaking the binary. But most importantly, we are being.
However, we are ‘being’ in very different ways. Some of us are shouting it from the rooftops; some of us are whispering; some of us aren’t saying anything at all. Not everyone can or wants to be ‘out’ for different reasons, whether that’s culture, religion, or simply their personal choice. And that’s okay. There’s no special rule book on how to be LGBTQ+. To be LGBTQ+ is to be you and to love you for you, whilst also respecting and supporting others being them.
Loughborough’s LGBT+ Association put on an extensive timetable of events in celebration of this month. This included the annually amazing PROUD, where Lady Dioxide and Jemima Fitbitch hit the stage to present the talents of the sensational students of Loughborough, as well as the two very enlightening panels: ‘LGBT+ in the Workplace’ and ‘Minority Within a Minority’. They also took over JC’s pub quiz, encouraging people to rack their brains on all there is to know about being LGBTQ+! And my personal favourite: Gender Geometry. Educating us on all we need to know about gender… and I assure you there’s a lot to know and we need to know it! Overall, a huge shout-out to our LGBT+ Association who have absolutely slayed LGBTQ+ History Month! And in the words of Lady Dioxide and Jemima Fitbitch: YASSS QUEENS!
So, what a month it has been! It’s definitely one to remember… not that we’d ever forget LGBTQ+ History Month, would we? Alright, go and make a pancake! But please, at least, make it rainbow-coloured!
Featured image by Frankie Stevens