After a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is “more important than ever” to celebrate LGBT+ History month this February, according to Lucy Power, co-chair of UNISON’s national LGBT+ committee.
“During the lockdown, people have struggled with social isolation, perhaps not being out at home, or at work, and having no outlet with LGBT+ friends,” Ms Power said.
“LGBT+ History month is an opportunity to celebrate our community, our past and our goals for the future. Let February be a commemoration and rejoicing in our diverse community.”
Phillippa Scrafton, of the national LGBT+ committee, added: “LGBT History Month is always a time for reflection. To remember activists and colleagues in our movement who are no longer with us, and the journey we have taken.”
Ms Scrafton said that, for her, the memory would always remain of Black LGBT+ UNISON activist Rizwan Sheikh, who died in 2015.
“I can still remember Rizwan’s voice urging me on as I got up to speak at the rostrum, so many times. I treasure those memories, I always will.”
And she continued: “We have come a long way, but there is much still to do. So many LGBT+ people are ‘isolated,’ even in homes filled with people: some are alone but with no end in sight.
“All may be struggling with their gender identity or sexuality. Where do they go? Who do they turn to?
“This pandemic is cruel to all for sure, but for those who cannot be their authentic selves in their homes it can be torture. Home is a place where they are meant to be safe, to be free and to be authentic.
“Spare a thought for them this February.”
UNISON has prepared new resources for this year’s history month, to help you spread the word.
And why not take the opportunity this month to find out more about UNISON’s LGBT+ group?
To be inspired – and to find a wealth of resources, visit www.unison.org.uk/out
There are network meetings scheduled for the union’s bi and trans members on 8 July, and for disabled LGBT+ and Black LGBT+ members on 17 September.