It’s the first week of LGBT History Month and so much is going on! It’s National HIV Testing Week, it’s Greater Manchester’s own Hate Crime Awareness Week, and it’s Children’s Mental Health Week! While we definitely encourage everyone to get tested for HIV and STIs on a regular basis, and we certainly support everyone reporting any hate crimes they witness or experience, we can’t focus on everything in one blog post. So today we’re going to outline some of the brilliant ideas shared by the LGBTQ+ young people in the Q42 Project today, how the theme for Children’s Mental Health Week, Express Yourself, allows for a way to connect with LGBT History.
One of the most important things about learning LGBT History is that it functions to affirm the identities and experiences of LGBT people today. Knowing that other people have had similar experiences to you, and that being LGBT is neither weird nor new, can be really affirming. And this kind of validation is so important for fighting internal senses of shame, helping us feel connected with the world, and supporting our mental health! So, on this theme, we asked the Q42 Project members to think about how they like to express themselves, and then to look into some key figures in LGBT History who they could relate to on this topic.
Here is what they came up with:
1. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury was an icon of the music industry who worked hard to express himself in his work. Our Q42 Project young person related to Mercury not only because they also want to work in the music industry, but because they can relate to working under pressure. They shared that Freddie Mercury was an inspiration to them, feeling like they too could accomplish their dreams just like Freddie Mercury did.
2. Alan Turing
While a lot of LGBT icons work/ worked in the arts, one Q42 Project member appreciated that Turing is an icon who worked in the sciences. This is something that really appealed to our young person, who felt like they could better relate to a fellow science and math-focused person. They also wondered in Alan Turing was autistic, as they related to a great deal of what he said and did as an autistic lgbt person. This intersectional relatability was really important for them.
3. Alexander Hamilton
While our third Q42 Project member very openly said they do not like Alexander Hamilton, they did talk about how this wasn’t actually relevant to identifying with him. They spoke about the struggles of being bisexual, particularly while occupying a space between wanting to date people of differing genders. While not a positive experience, it was affirming to know that this isn’t a new experience.
4. Leonardo da Vinci
LGBT love stories throughout history can be both profoundly liberating and desperately heartbreaking. The unrequited love and lack of romantic relationships experienced by Leonardo da Vinci was something one of our Q42 Project members could really identify with. The pursuit for love and connection continues for all of us to this day, including for some of the most admired and celebrated people in history.
5. Ian McKellen
Greater Manchester’s own Ian McKellen has been an inspiration activist in the LGBT liberation movement for decades. His outspoken pride in his identity has been hugely influential for many, and his work as a co-founder of Stonewall and as a patron of organisations like AKT and the LGBT Foundation make him one of the most supportive and influential LGBT activists in the UK today.
6. Audre Lorde
Intersectional activist. Writer. Warrior. Audre Lorde has fought for social justice for multiple marginalized communities in her incredible work. From teaching, to writing to public speaking, her work is hugely important. More should listen to activists like Audre Lorde and the important lessons they have to teach us about social liberation.
How do you express yourself? What experiences have you had? And where can you find these affirmations in our history? Find a hero from LGBT History that you can relate to today!