Paul Roberts OBE
Chief Executive Officer, LGBT Consortium
It is important for society to reflect back on key moments of history. It is how we learn, monitor progress and set new ambitions.
For LGBT+ communities, a key moment of historical reflection is upon us—the Stonewall riots. A time where enough was enough and our communities stood strong together. We have much to thank those brave people for and we owe it to them to keep that activism and passion thriving 50 years on…and that means all of us whether we are LGBT+ ourselves, an employer, an ally or a friend or family member.
Whilst we reflect, we also find ourselves in our new Stonewall moment. As we face further persecution and community attacks it can seem daunting to know what we do and how we do it effectively but by drawing together our passion, our desire for inclusion, our drive for positive change we have an opportunity to make LGBT+ lives healthier, safer and happier than ever before.
For primary school, through careers and into senior life, our voices need to be heard
Being LGBT+ doesn’t define our whole selves, and nor should it. It is one part of what makes us us and those other parts are equally important. Therefore, from early years to being part of the workforce to being part of an older generation, we exist and should be present.
All we want is fair and equal treatment. Nothing more, nothing less.
Teaching that different families exist doesn’t harm a child—it makes them more aware of difference and the potential it brings. Employers promoting inclusion and diversity don’t favour minorities—they recognise it can drive new business and support a happy healthy workforce. LGBT+ voluntary organisations aren’t erasing other voices—they are amplifying voices of those most marginalised and empowering them to be heard.
We must work together to bring about better support for LGBT+ communities
There is still much to do, but we must not become overwhelmed. No one person or organisation can achieve everything, and neither should they. The power of our LGBT+ communities is that we all have a responsibility and a role to play. From teachers to employers, and activists to politicians, we are an ecology that needs nurturing, shaping and carefully tending to.
The most powerful moments of change occur when all parts of an ecology work in tandem. It is that we as LGBT+ communities, and our allies, must get to grips with. We want the diversity of voices which make us such a rich part of society to shine through amongst the well bedded and visible voices. We may well be a rainbow of colour that waves proudly in the wind, but there is no reason why that rainbow shouldn’t have more colour to make it even brighter.
We’re just asking for equality
All we want is fair and equal treatment. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s what makes us part of wider society and that is exciting. LGBT+ people and communities bring new ideas to the table. Listen to them, embrace them and watch those people and those around them flourish.
This is our new Stonewall moment. Every LGBT+ voice should be heard so we call on schools, on employers, on policy makers—read everyone(!)—to be proud and try new things. Let’s speak and reach out together and take pride in what LGBT+ people and communities bring to society.
Only good things can happen as a result.