In his final post for LGBT+ History Month, Conor Wilman from the IP Out committee provides his very own collation of resources and recommendations for those who want to learn more about, or get involved with, the LGBT+ community. There’s a tremendous amount here, but do please add your own suggestions in the comments section below.
Huge thanks, Conor, for writing these articles for us. And we bet you’re glad you picked a year when February had five Saturdays!
A curated reference guide
So we’ve come to my last article for LGBT+ History Month this year. I’ve learned a lot doing the research for these, and I hope you’ve got something out of them too.
For a change of pace, this last piece isn’t about any topic in particular. Instead, I wanted to bring together some resources and links to highlight all sorts of things, from charities to TV and film. That way, perhaps this can serve as a starting point for you to discover some LGBT+ media.
Obviously, I can’t include every piece of LGBT+ media in this article because there is far too much! But this list has been curated to include references that I think are useful or interesting or worth being aware of, and also includes things suggested by some of the other IP Out committee members (thanks for your help!).
Resources and charities
The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles that were drawn up in 2006 and expanded in 2017 by experts in international human rights law. They outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity and serve as a standard to which state actors should aspire.
Mentioned in my last article, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) hosts the world’s largest online asexual community as well as a large archive of resources on asexuality. Aces (asexual people) recently found mainstream representation in the character Todd Chavez in the Netflix series Bojack Horseman. The show dealt with the subject with great care and in a way that ace people strongly related to.
Mermaids is a charity that supports young trans and gender-queer people and their families with emotional support and by helping them navigate national health systems. They have received a lot of recent attention after Starbucks announced their support for the charity. This came about after a short film produced by Mermaids showed how trans people use Starbucks to feel validated when their baristas call out their chosen names.
akt (rebranded last year from The Albert Kennedy Trust) is a charity that supports young homeless LGBT+ people. They commission their own research, which, in 2014, found that LGBT+ young people are more likely to find themselves homeless than their non-LGBT+ peers. Comprising up to 24% of the youth homeless population, LGBT+ homeless youth are highly likely to have experienced familial rejection, abuse and violence (69%, AKT 2015); and, whilst homeless, they are significantly more likely to experience targeted violence, sexual exploitation, substance misuse, and physical and mental health problems than other homeless youths. It doesn’t make for easy reading, but it makes clear some of the harms that are specific to young people in the LGBT+ community.
Turning to older members of the community, Opening Doors London helps LGBT+ people that are over 50 by providing information and helping build networks and communities across the UK (though unfortunately the majority of their focus is in London).
Switchboard is an LGBT+ focussed helpline whose volunteers are all from the LGBT+ community. If you need to talk about anything at all in confidence, they are there to talk. In view of large increases in LGBT+ hate crimes since 2014, Switchboard launched a new campaign last year to help raise their profile, particularly in areas of poor representation and high incidence of hate crimes.
The Terrence Higgins Trust, so named for one of the first people in the UK to die from AIDS, is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, and one of the largest of its kind in Europe. While not exclusively for the LGBT+ community, the Trust has always maintained close ties to it.
Though HIV/AIDS does not yet have a cure, treatments exist for those who test positive, and are able to prevent transmission. PrEP is a recently developed drug that can be taken by HIV-negative people that significantly reduces the risk of contracting HIV if it gets into their body. This is currently being trialled on the NHS and may be rolled out for anyone that may be at risk later this year (source: my doctor told me last week, but nothing has been confirmed).
There’s even some recent IP-related news about PrEP! Gilead had their SPC revoked for their version of the drug, called Truvada, and their subsequent appeal was dismissed at the end of last year. Perhaps this will pave the way for more generics to hopefully bring the cost of the drug down.
NAZ is another HIV and sexual health charity which focuses more on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Unfortunately, there is a significant gap between the sexual health outcomes of the general population and BAME communities, and so NAZ attempts to highlight problems specific to the promotion of sexual health in these communities.
Gaysians is an alliance of charities, support groups, meet-ups, activists and leading voices in the South Asian LGBT+ community.
There are also a whole host of LGBT+ networks for professionals, including Intertech, Out in Tech, InterMedia, Interbank, Interlaw, and many others. Many of these have regular free events that are hosted by companies such as Goldman Sachs, Vodafone, and Snapchat, so at the very least, it’s a good way to see inside some of these companies and to have a few nibbles and drinks at their expense!
Since the lifting of Section 28 and increased acceptance and tolerance of the community, the LGBT+ arts scene has exploded. We are now inundated with theatre shows and musicals and films and TV and podcasts with varying amounts of LGBT+ representation. Though white gay men have typically been chosen to represent the community in past mainstream shows, some new media is bringing other aspects of the community to the fore.
BFI Flare is beginning again soon and is on from 18 to 29 March at BFI Southbank. This annual festival showcases a wide selection of films and presentations from LGBT+ creators with themes such as Hearts, Bodies, and Minds.
Gay’s the Word, founded in 1979, is one of only two specifically lesbian and gay bookstores in the United Kingdom and the only one in England. It’s located in Bloomsbury, so consider popping in if you happen to be in the area. Though if that’s a bit out of your way, you can still support the store (and receive LGBT+ books monthly!) by subscribing to the Queer Book Box.
Above the Stag is an independent charity and theatre company by and for the LGBT+ community. Located in Vauxhall, Above the Stag has a rolling programme of LGBT+ themed theatre shows. Though some shows may appear a little amateur and low-brow, there are certainly some gems, and at the very least you’ll get a show by creators that are really passionate about their craft.
If you love podcasts and want to delve into the stories of people who lived through it, then Making Gay History might be your jam. If you’re looking for something easier to listen to on your daily commute, then you may prefer podcasts like Savage Lovecast with Dan Savage, Like Minded Friends or Gay and a Nongay.
For those that like to relax in front of the TV in the evening, Netflix has been producing numerous shows with LGBT+ themes and characters. One of the most well-known is Queer Eye, a reboot of a 2003 reality TV series by the same name, in which an all-new “Fab-Five” provide emotional makeovers in addition to revamping homes and wardrobes.
Another reboot series is Tales of the City. Originally a series of novels, this show explores the lives of a number of LGBT+ people living in San Francisco. It’s heartwarming and heartrending in equal parts, and, if that’s not enough, it also stars Ellen Page!
For something more glamorous, POSE dives deep into the 1980s subculture of the African-American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene. This show puts a spotlight on the cultural origins of voguing and the difficulties of the LGBT+ community at the height of the AIDS crisis.
If you prefer documentaries, then consider SEAHORSE. This film documents the story of trans man Freddie McConnell as he struggles to conceive and deliver his own child, a journey that has received international attention. His story also highlights a unique legal struggle for trans parents when his claim to be registered as a “father” on his child’s birth certificate was rejected by a High Court judge in September last year.
I couldn’t finish this piece without talking about Love, Simon. Based on the YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (also happens to be a very fun read), Love, Simon is a high-school teen film that also deals with Simon’s struggle as a young teenager to come out. It’s oh-so-relatable to those of us in the LGBT+ community. But the fact that this is shown with such care in a mainstream film in a setting that is so common in film helps show that LGBT+ stories don’t all have to be tragic. Having this story set in such a ubiquitous setting begins to normalise the struggles of young gay kids in the eyes of cishet (cis-gender, heterosexual) people, and I would hope to see more of these kinds of trashy romances in the future. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible when big companies see this kind of media as compromising “traditional family values” by doing things like pulling a Love, Simon spinoff series from their services.
As one last thing, I wanted to highlight an article entitled The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, written in 2017. This article looks at harms specific to gay men and why they suffer from loneliness at such high rates despite the advances in the rights they enjoy. A quote from the article reads as follows:
“…the rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women.”
Warning: this article is not an easy read. It is long and details issues like drug abuse, self-harm, and suicide. However, it does a good job at beginning to pick out the underlying reasons for trauma in gay men. So I recommend reading it when you are in a calm and safe space, and if you’re affected by anything discussed in it, do please talk to someone – for example a supportive friend, colleague or family member; your GP or another health care professional; or a helpline such as those provided by Stonewall (0800 0502020) or Samaritans (116 123).
And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and if there’s anything you would like to highlight, please mention it in your comments; I would love to expand my own horizons!
IP Out Committee
Page published on 28th February 2020
Page last modified on
Thanks for a fantastic series of articles Conor! I would also recommend the Polari Literary Salon (https://www.polarisalon.com/), which organises events with artists, poets and performers around the country and at its home in the Royal Festival Hall in London. A quick list of wonderful LGBTQ+ books: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo Christodora by Tim Murphy (warning - dark content including drug addiction) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Trumpet by Jackie Kay Zami by Audre Lorde Whipping Girl by Julia Serano (I personally found this a useful introduction to trans* issues)
I posted this on Conor's previous post, The "T", but thought it might be worth including here as well. A useful tool that we at Airbus (in Airbus’ Pride@Airbus LGBT+ employee network group) have found to help people better understand the concepts around sex, identity, gender, expression and sexual orientation is the “Genderbread Person”, which can be found online here: https://www.genderbread.org/