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  • lisavictoriabell


Updated: Jun 16, 2023

June is Pride month!

History shows us that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people have always existed across the globe and before colonialism in the late nineteenth century, lived freely and were accepted and even celebrated in different places in the world. Since that time, people belonging to one or more of these groups has faced criminalisation and homophobic or transphobic oppression.

The first Pride march in the UK took place on 1st July 1972, 3 years after the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York, USA, where the police department targeted LGBT patrons, causing an uprising.

50 years on and Pride marches now take place all over the world. Marching proud of who we are as unique individuals instead of hiding away in shame.

Pride Dates for Cornwall

Cornwall Pride 2023 poster
Cornwall Pride 2023

You can only be ‘male’ OR ‘female’ right?

According to Simon(e) (2019), ‘Nearly everyone in middle school biology learned that if you’ve got XX chromosomes, you’re a female; if you’ve got XY, you’re a male. This tired simplification is great for teaching the importance of chromosomes but betrays the true nature of biological sex. The popular belief that your sex arises only from your chromosomal makeup is wrong. The truth is, your biological sex isn’t carved in stone, but a living system with the potential for change’. (Simon(e), D. 2019).

Why should we use the word ‘CIS?’

‘Cis’ or cisgendered means that a person feels that the sex they were assigned at birth matches their felt gender. People who are ‘Trans’ or transgendered are those who feel that their gender is different to that which they were assigned at birth.

Imagine having genitalia that does not match the way you feel! Our society has historically been formed around having male or female genitals. At birth, our gender is declared depending on what we look like down below. The colour we dress our babies, the public toilets we use, even the groups to which we belong are often based on gender. These societal ‘norms’ reinforce our tendencies to view difference as wrong, placing trans people in a lower position in society than those who are not trans.

If we don’t use a word to describe a person whose gender identity is the same as the identity they were assigned at birth (according to the look of their genitals), we risk assuming that trans is wrong or less important. So just as we use the terms ‘gay’ or ‘ straight’ to describe a persons’ sexuality, the use of the terms ‘cis’ or ‘trans’ are words we use to describe felt gender.

Is it time to move away from our culture of ‘othering’ to a place of accepting and celebrating difference?

The Human Rights Act (1998), The Gender Recognition Act (2004) and The Equality Act (2010) all support the rights of transgender people. It could be viewed that society has been a little slow on the uptake!

In 2018 Shon Faye wrote an article in The Guardian and made an interesting comparison between the ‘anti-trans rhetoric of today’ looking remarkably similar to ‘old-school homophobia’ of the late 20th century. Faye writes; ‘Gay people and trans people have had to battle similar arguments about being “unnatural” – homophobia still often rests on the prejudice that the worthiest form of sexuality is that which is capable of reproduction. Transphobia, too, emanates from a prejudice that a person’s stated identity is more trustworthy if it reflects their “natural” role in human reproduction. This rigid, unyielding hierarchy of natural over unnatural, of biology over feeling’ has recently been challenged by modern science.

Societal practices of ‘not seeing’ does not ‘get rid’ of the existence of trans, intersex and non-binary people, instead it continues to put them in a place of dehumanisation. Consider the example of public conveniences for male or female genders. Where should transgender people go that is safe for them to carry out the human requirement to urinate?

By not considering the needs of other genders and sexualities, we all have a part to play in alienating them. 50 years since Stonewall, and we are only recently beginning to see social change. In 2014, it became legal for same sex couples to get married in the UK. In recent years you may have noticed the availability of same sex greetings cards to celebrate marriage or anniversaries.

By shining the torch on what might be viewed as outdated practices in society, and by challenging prejudiced views and opinions on difference, change could happen.

British LGBTQ+ people in the public eye today

Breaking down barriers and leading the way to an inclusive society are British celebrities who are openly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer.

Cara Delevingne, actor. In 2018, she came out as gender fluid.

Cara Delevinge for Vogue by Anne Leibovitz
Cara Delevingne for Vogue by Anne Leibovitz

(Photograph: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue)

Claire Balding, TV sports presenter. Now openly lesbian, hid her homosexuality for a decade before coming out in 2003.

Claire Balding LGBTQ
Claire Balding

(Photograph: Channel 4)

Alan Carr, Comedian, radio and TV presenter. Identifies as Gay.

Alan Carr by Nicky Johnson
Alan Carr

(Photograph: Nicky Johnson / Camera Press)

Kelly Holmes, Olympic athlete. Came out as Lesbian in 2022.

Kelly Holmes LGBTQ
Kelly Holmes

(Photograph: Sky Sports)

Eddie Izzard, Comedian. Genderqueer mostly uses she/her pronouns.

Eddie Izzard LGBTQ
Eddie Izzard

(Photograph: Linda Nylind / The Guardian)

Munroe Bergdorf, model, activist, nightlife producer. Trans woman.

Munroe Bergdorf
Munroe Bergdorf

(Photograph: Luke Nugent)

Fox Fisher, artist, film maker and campaigner. Identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them.

Fox Fisher Artist
Fox Fisher


Sam Smith, Singer/ songwriter. Identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them.

Sam Smith Singer
Sam Smith


Why it is important for LGBTQ+ celebrities to be visible in the media?

Barnardos (2019) explain how ‘it’s important for our LGBT+ young people to see other people like them in society so that they feel represented, inspired and motivated to be their best selves'. Action for Children (2022) state that when young people see individuals in the media, or characters in books that look like them or who have had similar experiences, this ‘can help them develop a sense of identity and self-worth. It can also have an impact on their self-esteem and help with feelings of loneliness or isolation’. This is extremely important to reduce the higher levels of mental ill health that minority groups suffer.

The importance of better LGBTQ+ representation in the media, together with a positive movement in society to practice more inclusive language, may in time, prevent internalised homophobia, transphobia and biphobia within the LGBTQ+ communities and normalise difference to bring us closer to becoming an inclusive society.

How can we help?

. Making small changes to the way we engage with a new person for example might prevent any misunderstanding. We could ask a person what their name and pronouns are, rather than assuming their gender by the way they look.

. LGBTQ+ inclusive education in schools could teach our children inclusive language and acceptance through better LGBTQ+ visibility in literature.

. We could use the term ‘partner’ when referring to a persons’ spouse if we do not know the persons personal circumstances. The assumption that a man has a wife or a woman has a husband for example can be upsetting for an LGBTQ+ individual as it confirms societies’ biases.

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