LGBT History Month: Dr Lindsey Gaston reflects
Pictured: Dr Lindsey Gaston with his Professor Robert Minor.
Celebrating Diversity through the lenses of LGBTQIA+ Equality
As February marks LGBT History Month, the LJMU Diversity and Inclusion Team caught up with Dr Lindsey Gaston, Liverpool Business School Senior Lecturer. Here he reflects on his own journey and experience.
What is LGBT History Month?
As we enter LGBT History Month, an observance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender history, the history of Gay Rights and our role within the Civil Rights movements, we reflect on the progress we have made as a community. We celebrate our pioneers. We rejoice in their victories. We share sorrow in their defeats. Regardless of the outcomes, this month is a time to show our gratitude to all their deeds and sacrifices. While we do have much to celebrate, and we do. As I write this post, Slovenia officially recognised same-sex marriage, the first Eastern European County to do so. (I would mark that up in the progress column.)
“Still more to be done”
However, we must also recognise that so much more needs to be done. 2022 provided my community with several stark reminders that our struggle for inclusion and equality is far from over. Thirty-five of the fifty-four countries that competed in the 2022 Commonwealth Games do not recognises same-sex relationships. The 2022 World Cup highlighted the social and legal inequality faced by many gay people around the globe. Sadly, the 2022 World Cup also highlighted the emptiness of many who ‘championed’ themselves as our ‘allies’.
Closer a field, the 2020-21 Police Force Areas Hate Crime Offence Rates reported that Merseyside was the highest for Homophobic hate crime and the fifth highest for Transphobic hate crime in England and Wales. Our existence is still used for political fodder; my transgender brothers and sisters know this all too well as their ability to simply be is openly debated in halls of government.
“A chance to imprint on the lives of young people”
While the examples above are heavy, and will change - I am confident that they will. We do have the ability to make significant differences in the lives of those near us. We need to recognise the awesome power (I do not mean awesome in the California surfer sense, I mean awesome in the truest sense of the word) that we have as academics to imprint on the lives of young people. I understand that cohorts come and go and one group of students blur into another group of students, yet- we, their tutors, remain forever constant as a reflection of their university experience.
Speaking from experience
I speak from experience, needless to say being gay in Middle America in the 1990’s was not…. well - ‘popular’. The zeitgeist of the time regarding homosexuality was one to hide, as this time was the height of the Clinton Administrations ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy’. Both State and Federal lawmakers were attempting to legally define marriage as between a man and a woman, actively limiting the ability for gay people to adopt and making it legal to discriminate against gay people in matters of housing and employment. The murder of Matthew Shepard during my junior year at university slammed, what was a slowly opening ‘closet door’, firmly shut.
My own Professor’s influence to make sure I knew I mattered
However, it was a Professor who allowed me to see that things would get better and that I mattered, and for that, I will be forever grateful. This LGBT History Month, when I reflect on those influential and brave individuals who helped and are still helping to shape an inclusive world for those who identify as LGBTQAI+, I will think of Professor Robert Minor and thank him for seeing me and letting me know I mattered when all I heard from the outside world was; “you do not”.
- Written by Dr Lindsey Gaston
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