Features | By Gemma Bradshaw

Stories to mark LGBT+ History Month

“If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that being different doesn’t mean abnormal. It just means you’re you”


This past February, staff and students from City’s LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) community shared personal accounts of their experiences to mark LGBT+ History Month, an observance of LGBTQI+ history and related civil rights movements.

Ali’s story


“I am ace – a term I learned only recently. Ace means asexual.


“I focused on the ‘+’ that recently started appearing on the LGBT+ label and for the first time thought, ‘oh, maybe I fit somewhere in that +’. It triggered quite a lot of self-assessment and some tears – mostly, it should be said, of relief.


“Labels can be difficult things, but the fact that a label exists means that it applies to more than just one person. It’s not a negative label either and that is reassuring.


“The negatives I have found have been mostly related to cultural assumptions. Just about everything is geared to being in a couple. Everything is just easier – smoother – if there are two of you.


“People also assume that a single person must be lonely. I can see how some ace people might end up in a relationship just to avoid the stigma of being alone as you get older.


“If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that being different does not mean abnormal. It does not mean there is something wrong and it does not mean you are a cold person. It just means you are you. I doubt I would believe me, but I think it is worth saying”.

My story (anonymous)


“I identify as gay and I use female pronouns. I do not identify as a lesbian as I feel it is a word that has loaded connotations that can be negative. I am also happy to identify as queer.


“I guess those are my labels, but it is a complicated business and really down only to me to decide on.


“I knew I was different from others at school from a really early age, but I did not have a way of framing it because I was too young. I was me, but I did not feel like I fitted in. The difference was recognised by my peers and I was bullied throughout my school years.


“As time went by, I became sure of and more secure in my identity as a gay woman. I felt much less like a rabbit in headlights. My first relationship with a woman did not suddenly make everything alright, but life did get easier. I had found my ‘tribe’ and I had the beginnings of a sense of belonging.


“I am different and that is great. The people who do not like that are not really worth spending time worrying about. There are plenty of people who like and love me for nothing more than being myself.


“I really like who I am now. I live in the present, openly, with honesty and authenticity. No hiding”.

Tom’s story


“I identify as pansexual, meaning that I can be attracted to a person of any sex or gender. More often than not, the first thing I usually have to do after ‘coming out’ to a new person is explain what my identity means.


“I do not subscribe to the notion of there being only two genders. I get mislabelled fairly often as gay or bisexual, but that does not bother me as I do not find either of the terms offensive. I often define myself as queer as well.


“When I realised my identity, I felt like a whole new world of opportunities and experiences opened up to me.


“I love that I get to co-chair City’s LGBQIT+ staff network and meet other people within the community, support them and put on events for them. I love exploring queer culture and learning more about it and its history day by day.


“My pansexuality does not mean I ignore and dismiss gender, I respect and acknowledge how each person I meet identifies.


“Looking to the future, I’d love to live in a world where I can hold my fiancé’s hand down any street I want, without having to scope it out first. I want to see equal rights become the norm and not the fight. There can be issues surrounding the validity of pansexuality, and I’d like to see that change too.


“As a wise drag queen once said – your opinion of me is none of my business”.