Eight students from Harrogate College have put their heads together to raise money as part of LGBTQ+ History Month.
The student-led event saw members of the college’s LGBTQ+ society plan an event to raise money for the awareness month with a cake sale, Pride merchandise and nail painting.
Florence Clarke Drayson, Youth Social Action Apprentice at the college, worked with students to arrange the event. She commented “The cake sale went down a treat; it was fantastic to see the students celebrating Pride by creating posters, bookmarks, decorations, bracelets and delicious cookies.
“We raised £94 for Yorkshire MESMAC, a sexual health organisation which offers services to various communities, including LGBTQ+ young people and adults. I’m really proud of the students’ hard work, and it was great to donate towards a cause that they’re passionate about.”
Today marks the start of LGBTQ+ History Month, an annual celebration and remembrance of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer + others) community.
LGBTQ+ History Month has been an annual celebration in the UK since 2005, however, the month was founded in the US after Rodney Wilson, the first openly gay teacher in Missouri, originated the idea.
The importance of LGBTQ+ History Month
With a lack of education and awareness, members of the LGBTQ+ community still face prejudice today. The overall aims of this month are to promote equality and diversity for the LGBTQ+ community, to acknowledge and value their contributions to society, and most importantly; to ensure they feel safe and accepted.
Achievements of the LGTBQ+ community can often be overlooked; it’s important to carry on educating those on the sacrifices made by the community which led to milestones such as the Sexual Offences Act 1967.
Although there have been huge milestones for the LGBTQ+ community there is still a great deal of work to be done to move towards social justice, fairness and inclusion.
What is the theme for this year?
This year’s theme is Politics in Art: “The Arc is Long” which is inspired by a Martin Luther King quote: ‘The Arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’
Some of the LGBTQ+ artists featured in this year’s theme are Keith Haring with his dancing figures, which were used to draw attention to the growing AIDS crisis of the early 1980s. Graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was also significant in the ‘80s for his neo-expressionist paintings.
How you can be an ally
Being an LGBTQ+ ally is about helping to create an inclusive environment where people can feel safe and be themselves around you.
If you are a straight ally, here are some of the ways you can help improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people everywhere.
Familiarise yourself with the terms
Educating yourself with the correct terminology and pronouns is a simple but crucial step in becoming an ally. Take note of what words a person uses to describe themselves and their sexual orientation and gender identity, using the correct terms and pronouns is being respectful to those around you.
Expanding your reading and watch list with cultural content is also an easy step but an important way of learning about LGBTQ+ history and LGBTQ+ existence today.
Show your support
A good way to show support is to engage with charities and events in your local community. They might have updates and activities that you can volunteer for or donate to.
Pride in Diversity Harrogate is a local community that aims to encompass life in all its diversity and to encourage all to work and live in a fully inclusive community within the Harrogate district. Take a look at their website here to see how you can support them.
There are also small LGBTQ+ businesses out there to show support to, this can be done by sharing their social media on your own accounts or if you can afford to, purchasing something from them.
Celebrating at college
Harrogate College is celebrating LGBTQ+ History month in a variety of ways this year.
Harrogate College’s LGBTQ+ Society provides a safe space for those who identify as LGBTQ+* to be fully themselves without fear of judgement, criticism or discrimination.
Our LGBTQ+ society is always open to new members: students can drop into AG23 on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons or can click here to sign up for the online group.
The LGBTQ+ society is doing a fundraiser for MESMAC, an organisation that offers a range of mental health services for LGBTQ+ individuals.
The Students’ Union will also be selling pronoun badges for 50p for staff and students who want to wear one on their lanyard.
There is plenty of support available out there for LGBTQ+ members.
Mindline Trans+ is an emotional and mental health support helpline for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid.
The foundation provides a helpline staffed by a team of dedicated staff and volunteer operators who have extensive training.
There are also a range of services on The Go To, which offers support to LGBTQ+ individuals across North Yorkshire.
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