| By Traci Cothran |
Recent times in this country have caused many of us to reflect on our society’s gross inequities, including, for me, what my responsibilities are as a citizen and as an ally to the black and LGBTQIA+ communities. It’s sobering, and while there is much to do for me personally, and for us collectively—taking steps forward is key.
I’m also trying to celebrate our country’s diversity and how great that makes us, especially focusing on the LGBTQIA+ community since it’s Pride Month! So I watched the movie Pride (2014). Based on a true story, it depicts how a group of LGBTQIA+ Londoners raised around $70,000 (in today’s dollars) to support the arduous and contentious yearlong British miners’ strike in 1984, adopting a small Welsh mining town in the process. The group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), took this action out of solidarity with the striking miners due to their mistreatment by police—something the two groups had in common. In the process of getting to know each other, misconceptions were challenged and barriers were broken down—not easily, but great friendships were forged. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but in the years following LGSM’s help for the miners, the powerful miners’ union then provided key political support for LGBTQIA+ rights—turning the tide in the UK.
It’s a wonderful story, though sobering set against the AIDS crisis of the time; Mark Ashton, cofounder of LGSM, died at the age of 26 in 1987, just two weeks after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
As I walk by homes proudly displaying pride flags in my neighborhood this week, I am reminded how far we have come in the last 50 years in nondiscrimination and equity for all; and as I see the rallies around the country and the world for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, and read the myriad pieces of legislation proposed these last few years to remove LGBTQIA+ discrimination protections (in health care, the military, adoptions, and more), it’s clear how far we still need to go.
What’s the key in all this? Education, then action. And that’s where parents, educators, librarians, and Gale come into play. We have eBooks on LGBTQIA+ subjects for students of all ages; a rich, digital Archives of Sexuality and Gender; and more. In our Gale In Context: High School database, here are a few of the related topics to get learning and thinking started!
So let’s take time to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, family, friends—and yourself, if applicable! And if you don’t identify as part of the community, learn what you can do to be a better ally and support equal rights for everyone.