What LGBTQ+ month means to us

There is much to celebrate when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, however it’s important to look back at how far we’ve come too. As we celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, Samantha Bradley and David Lever reflect on what it means to them.

David Lever, Customer Experience Manager

LGBTQ+ History Month has become an incredibly important event for me from the day I stood on Christopher Street in New York outside The Stonewall Inn in 2003. This was the place it had all started back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots, and when my LGBTQ+ ancestors first said “no” with such a united, powerful voice, “enough is enough”. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that’s probably the first time I’d really connected with “history” of any kind in that it was so movingly relevant to me and my ability to stand with my now partner for a souvenir picture – in love and freedom.

The subject had largely passed me by, studied but not really connecting with it, until that moment in New York when a whole world of courage and consequence opened to me. And now because of the struggle for civil rights and gay liberation, I’d say I now get why my history teacher at school was always so excited about the subject!

LGBTQ History Month is a big deal to me, but it’s the fact that it’s a living and breathing struggle, with achievements and setbacks along the way, which keeps it fascinating. I’m privileged to live in a country that legislates for me and a city that embraces and celebrates my difference. Many of us are not so lucky, and LGBTQ+ History Month brings all such progress and injustice together. I always look to learn something new in any events run each year, whether that be culture, politics, ancient history or the law.

It’s a time for acknowledgement of incredible courage, commemoration, reflection and gratitude. And it’s also a time to embrace just how diverse and interesting we are in our little acronym – LGBTQ+.  I’m a firm believer in the value being the difference that we bring, and that’s certainly been the case in the many LGBTQ+ communities that have stood-up, called-out and championed the cause throughout our history - for equality, respect and acceptance. I’m proud to be part of our living “history”.

Pexels Brett Sayles 1167034
'I’m privileged to live in a country that legislates for me and a city that embraces and celebrates my difference.'

Samantha Bradley, Scrum Master – Change & Project Management

History is an overarching term for notable or milestone events from the past. We can choose to remember the negative challenges and the positive triumphs. But how often do we consider that the challenges and victories we witness today become the history of tomorrow? This is why I believe observing our history is so important. History leaves us clues and patterns, so we can use our voices and new freedoms to stop repeats of the past and drive positive change.

I was saddened to read that up until the year 2000 LGBTQ+ people were banned from serving in the British military and each year, up to 250 soldiers were sacked because of their sexuality, convicted in court and medals physically torn from their uniforms.

It seems barbaric that people willing to give their lives for their country would be treated so appallingly simply for who they choose to love. This has happened in my lifetime and it doesn't seem so far back that such an injustice was allowed here in the UK, where we enjoy far more freedoms than so many of our LGBTQ+ community do across the world right now.

History can be even impactful when it is close to home. I am the product of two generations of coal miners from the North of England and although my great grandfather and grandfather never got to know my authentic self I feel a deeper connection to them knowing our interwoven history and solidarity due to the alliance formed with ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ in 1984.

I am so deeply grateful those who have come before me to pave way to a more peaceful life for me and my partner and the new generations of the community to come. We will have new battles to face and more celebrations ahead, but it remains critical to ensure that we weave these experiences into our rich tapestry, and that we do not forget our history.