LGBT+ History Month: Why we reflect and celebrate
This year the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has teamed up with Pride FM to spread awareness of LGBT+ History Month and how we’re welcoming and celebrating LGBTQ+ people into our organisation.
In his accompanying blog, Tony Caddies-Green, Head of Business Intelligence, reflects on his experience as a gay teenager growing up in the 80s and why LGBT+ History Month is still so important today.
History is as much about the present, and the future, as it is about the past. We study it to understand how it influences how we live today and to inform us about how we shape our future.
I was a gay teenager in the 80s, too terrified by the newspaper stories about AIDS and the stigmatisation of queer people, and gay men in particular, to do anything other than stay far back in my closet. Although it was less than 20 years since the partial decriminalisation of gay sexual relationships in England and Wales (1967 - just a year before I was born), there were green shoots of change, led by the arts with music from the likes of Culture Club, The Communards, and The Indigo Girls and movies such as My Beautiful Laundrette and Mona Lisa. But there was also Section 28 of the Local Government Bill 1987 which was designed to prevent the promotion of homosexuality in schools and other parts of local government.
There are parts of the LGBTQ+ community under similar attack today. Only now instead of it being about gay men and AIDS it’s about the trans community and (in particular) trans women. The parallels are clear – the fear of “them” and laws intended to protect children from “dangerous ideas”. In some ways, this is worse (social media), but in others, it is better (the vocal support of trans allies both inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community). I can only take from history that while this will be a bruising time for trans people, I am sure they and those of us who support them will be shown to have been right.
Which is why LGBT+ History Month is so important. Firstly, we must celebrate our achievements, reminding ourselves and others of how much things have changed for the better, but that there is still a long way to go. It is easy, and understandable, for younger queer folk to not know about things that happened many years before they were born. LGBT+ History Month is an opportunity, a prompt if you like, for us to pause and take the time to talk about these things. Hopefully, give heart to those on the receiving end of the hate right now that it can and will eventually change for the better. But also, for us not to take things for granted: history tells us that bad people in positions of power often look for a common enemy to deflect attention from their other deeds and failings and that has so many times meant the LGBTQ+ community.
The theme of LGBT+ History Month this year in the NHSBSA is “Behind the Lens” and we’ve been discussing and sharing our favourite films and TV shows that shine a light on queer culture. Art has been such an important driver for societal change throughout history and this has been an excellent way for us to remember, share, and celebrate our history with each other and our colleagues.
I really enjoy working for the NHSBSA. It’s a challenge, as any job should be, but the challenge should be in the work and the sense of achieving something important: not in worrying about how you should conduct yourself or be perceived by the people you work with. I feel fully supported by an organisation that celebrates rather than tolerates who I am.
Learn more about working at the NHSBSA by visiting our careers website.