If you could change one thing for LGBT+ people, what would it be?
Lowie puzzles over this big, important question
When I think about this question, my head starts spinning. What would I change to improve the lives of millions (if not billions) of people across the world? I’d legalise being queer in any way in every country, I’d remove all the social stigma surrounding LGBTQIA lives, I’d ensure every queer voice felt welcomed and safe at Pride events… Heck, maybe I’d even get rid of Pride because LGBT+ people would no longer need to protest for their rights and visibility.
But alas, I am one person. And the change a female-passing, white, able-bodied, bisexual, economically stable person makes is never going to help and reflect the needs of every LGBT+ person out there. We’re a diverse community.
I push all the spinning thoughts out of my mind and turn my attention to a younger version of myself.
So, I push all the spinning thoughts out of my mind and turn my attention to a younger version of myself. Those LGBT+ people discovering who they are, those fifteen-year-olds stuck in school, in small towns where ‘gay’ is still an insult… how would I improve their lives?
I grew up in a nowhere place about forty-five minutes from London. It was a lovely place to raise your children: it was quiet, it was safe (except for the odd gaggle of thirteen-year olds hanging around Sainsbury’s) and it had good schools. It was also overwhelmingly white, most people read the Daily Mail and no one challenged the status quo. We had a stereotypical nuclear family (complete with two cats), and I grew up in the same house my entire life until I moved out this year.
…those fifteen-year-olds stuck in school, in small towns where ‘gay’ is still an insult… how would I improve their lives?
However, not everything was perfect: my dad lost his job when I was 11 and we lived on ‘mystery pasta’ dinners for three years, I knew I liked girls from the end of primary school, I developed severe mental health problems aged 15 that led to being taken out of school and my younger brother had to attend a special nursery because he couldn’t speak.
We were part of this ‘perfect’ world, but we didn’t fit in. I navigated the brutal world of secondary school and the daily unknowns of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services while knowing I was queer. It was a huge burden on my shoulders that I felt I had to hide. I didn’t have the language to describe how I felt, and even if I did, it’s not like I could’ve told my parents and I definitely couldn’t tell any of my friends, teachers or nurses. But if I had, my teenage years would’ve been so much easier and I am almost certain my mental health would’ve improved more quickly as my difficulties are so intertwined with my queer identity.
How did I finally learn the language that fit me? I learned it all through YouTube videos. How ridiculous is that?
As I grew up, I discovered the language I needed to describe how I felt inside. I was queer, bisexual, agender. How did I finally learn the language that fit me? I learned it all through YouTube videos. How ridiculous is that? I had no safe spaces in my town, no LGBT+ education in school, no one who I felt would understand. As I grew up and became confident in my identity, I appeared on Queer Britain on BBC3, I joined Freedom at Off The Record, and I continually amplify the queer voices of Ruby Tandoh, Shon Faye, Amerah Saleh… the list is never-ending.
I never want a young person to feel alone like I did. If I could change one thing, I’d create a safe space for all queer small-town kids, I’d let them know it will be okay, that there is nothing wrong with them, and that I love them. I love them so much.