As LGBT History Month comes to an end for 2017 I’m reflecting on part of my own history and how I’ve got to where I am now. This weekend has been a busy one for my Husband and I. Our first child free weekend since October and we have spent it in Sheffield doing voluntary work for LGBT Cancer Support.
The event was organised by Sheena Amos Youth Trust and Friends of Edward Carpenter and was held at the Millennium gallery. The event started on Friday with Live Late at the Gallery with a full program of activities and speakers on Saturday right through until Sunday. It really was well attended and there was a great buzz of excitement throughout the weekend. Click here for a short video clip from Friday night which Bellyflop TV did for us. The full film will be ready and shared soon so keep an eye on our twitter for that. Why would we do this you (and I sometimes), wonder? Simply put it’s because we are taking our place as part of a community that has embraced us and we are giving back.
My involvement with the Sheffield LGBT scene began around 2008 when I was invited with Stephen to host the very first Sheffield Pride at Cemetery Park. It was a great event and was well supported by the community. Following that last time we hosted together at Endcliffe Park was 2010.
Stephens relationship with Sheffield goes back way further than that though. Long before I met him he had been working on the LGBT scene hosting club nights such as Fairy Likuid etc and had made a great group of friends who, in turn have become friends of mine too. They are the reason I feel at home in Sheffield. There is no pretence and no hidden agenda, we can just relax and enjoy our differences and have fun because thats what family is all about.
When times are tough and when times are good it is always great to share them with loved ones. they support you through the bad times and share your joy in the good times. Stephen was always grateful of the support he had in Sheffield which is why despite being given a terminal Cancer diagnosis back in September 2010 he volunteered to host sheffield pride in 2011. Unfortunately he passed away on June 15th just a month before Pride on 16th July. As a result that was the first time I hosted without my stage partner, my husband and best friend. I was comforted though by the love and support of our other friends, many of whom had also travelled from further afield to support me and celebrate Stephens memory.
As pride draws near and I look at my own LGBT history I am reminded that it is more than a party it is a celebration of love and friendship and a way of showing the wider community that despite our differences we are all able to come together and celebrate. Our pretty flags and outlandish costumes serve to highlight the vibrant diversities of those around us.
Over the years I have often heard people ask whether pride events are still necessary. My answer is well and truly yes! It is true we have come a long way since decriminalisation in 1967 but we have a lot further to go. My work with LGBT Cancer Support reminds me of this on a daily basis. Medically speaking cancer is the same regardless of your gender or sexuality but the questions and conversations around it are very different for the LGBT community.
LGBT history month has been a reflective one for me and has left me feeling positive and determined to continue to make a change to the lives of those affected by Cancer. It has also left me considering whether or not I should haul my sequins from storage, send my hair to the hairdressers, dust off my diamante and slip on some stilettos to resurrect a piece of my past. I may be persuaded…