The UK celebrates LGBTQ+ history month every February. We hold this history month to celebrate the history and progress of the community but equally it’s also a time to hear stories of how mental health might affect LGBTQ+ people.
Stonewall (the largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation in Europe, named after the 1969 Stonewall riots ) conducted a work survey in 2018 and found that 35% of LGBTQ+ employees feel like they have to hide their sexuality at work for fear of discrimination, stigma or abuse. The numbers are far higher for those in the Black and Minority Ethnic LGBTQ+ community.
This has a profound impact on an individual’s mental health as people live in fear of being who they are - themselves! Representation matters. Everyone should be comfortable being who they are without fear of bullying or discrimination inside or outside of work. We have come far since the first UK Pride march in 1972 but there is always progress to be made.
The theme for 2023’s LGBTQ+ History Month is “Behind the Lens” - aimed at recognising and celebrating people’s contributions to cinema and film who may not normally be well known. This could be sound mixers, directors, writers, costume designers, musicians and beyond. A few examples are below:
Lana and Lilly Wachowski - best known for directing the Matrix series and the Sense8 Netflix series. Originally assigned male at birth, these sisters later came out as Transgender and made waves in the industry and directed one of the most recognisable film franchises of all time!
Sophie Xeon - a music producer, songwriter and DJ best known for working with acts such as Charli XCX, Kim Petras and Madonna. Sophie’s music often had trans narratives and really resonates with the Trans and non-binary community.
Tony Richardson - a prominent, multi Academy award winning film director and producer known for films such as Mademoiselle (1966) and A Delicate Balance (1973). Tony was bisexual but this was never acknowledged publicly until after he was diagnosed with HIV.
The LGBTQ+ community has lots of terms which individuals use to identify themselves. A few are listed below (there are many more which are listed HERE):
Lesbian - refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Gay - usually a term used to describe a man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. It is also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Bisexual - An umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.
Non-binary - An umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not sit comfortably with “man” or “woman”. People may identify as more than one gender, no gender, or have a fluctuating gender identity.
Cisgender - Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transgender - An umbrella term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Please note that people who identify as transgender don’t necessarily have to have their gender “reassigned,” and non-binary identities tend to fall into this umbrella.
Queer - Traditionally a slur term, it was reclaimed in the 1980s by the queer community who embrace it. People who identify as queer tend to reject specific labels of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
It is important to note that those with mental health difficulties may relate to other factors in life and not necessarily linked to their LGBTQ+ identity.
Although the UK has come far in recent years to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, there is still a way to go, especially in the Transgender community. A lot of Transgender people have been watching the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill very closely and are understandably upset that it’s been blocked at the last hurdle. If you know a transgender person, please be mindful that this is an upsetting time to them as they may feel somewhat invalidated by the recent news.
Some further reading you night find helpful: