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GRL, Uninterrupted: On Kids At Pride, LGBTQ+ Education And Why You Should Teach Your Fucking Self

illustration by Sara Murray. Instagram: @sara.murray

In our BRAND NEW column: GRL, Uninterrupted, long-time FGRLS writer Amy Beecham is unfiltered, unafraid and uninterrupted in putting the world around us to rights. 

I talk about my same-sex parents a lot online. 

Mostly because: it’s my life, but also because it feels important to share. In the past, I’ve sworn to high heaven that my upbringing was no different to anyone else’s, that my parents and I laughed, loved and fought as much as every other family.

I thought that in admitting we were different, it would seem I’d been robbed of some heteronormative (and thus without flaw) fantasy childhood. But actually, by denying that I felt any different about my parents growing up is not just a lie, but doesn’t account for how much more we had to struggle with to have the kind of family life that seemed a given for straight families. 

The problems were never internal, of course, but products of a society that saw two mums and automatically put a cross through us as either unnatural or disadvantaged. A society that continues to fail LGBTQ+ people day in day out. 

Because while it’s Pride month, it is also the month that two lesbians were attacked on a bus in London for refusing to kiss. And the month that demonstrations against LGBTQ+ education continues outside schools. Violence and harm – both physical and ideological – is consistently done to LGBTQ+ people, and yet somehow they emerge villainous. 

Only this week, transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf was hired, and then fired, as the NSPCC’s first LGBT ambassador after they cited concerns with their duty to “safeguard children”. Later, the NSPCC talent officer responsible for hiring her was targeted with homophobic abuse after Twitter accounts found photos of him wearing fetish gear. He was branded a “perverted narcissist” who “needs firing.” 

This is neither the first nor last time bigotry has and will prevail in painting the LGBTQ+ community as unfriendly to children or – worse – dangerous to them. 

It rings too closely for me to the experiences that have scarred my family. My parents ability to bring me up lovingly and safely was continually questioned in a way it never would have been had they been a man and a woman – the same way that heterosexual people’s private preferences during sex are not laid out for the world to see before seemingly proving them unfit for their jobs. 

The LGBTQ+ community has surrounded me for the largest portion of my life. My first ever concert, aged 8, was to see Scissor Sisters in Brighton and quite possibly one of the campest scenarios one could find themselves in. That was the first time I saw drag queens, with their perfectly coiffed hair and beautiful make up, and admired them instantly. As I grew up, my parents took me to Pride, and borrowed me a family friend’s ID to take me on my first night out, to a gay club, when I was 16. 

Pride is a wonderful place that celebrates freedom of expression, identity and orientation. It is fun and joy in its purest form. But it’s not your nice day out, and it’s not your classroom. 

Tolerance is taught and can never begin too early, but gay, trans and queer people are not your tools for education. 

Just as my parents do not exist as a positive advertisement for gay marriage, I do not as a success story of same-sex parenting, or proof that gay couples should have the same rights to adopt. Too often, and particularly during the month that is supposed to be their own, the LGBTQ+ community finds their identities appropriated – for “woke” points by corporations and by well-meaning but wholly inappropriate parties that point to them and say,look at those people celebrating despite it all. We have to witness their oppression in order to be better allies”.  

“Discrimination, hatred and violence against the LGBTQ+ community should not have to be seen to be believed”

I feel lucky to have grown up thoughtfully immersed in the LGBTQ+ community. But as much as I got to revel in the celebration, I was a close witness to the hardships of the people I love. Discrimination, hatred and violence against the LGBTQ+ community should not have to be seen to be believed. Their trauma should not be utilised to make a point about what more we need to do as a society for equality.

Of course, increased progress towards acceptance is imperative, not least for the people who live their lives in fear. But do the work on your own –  raise your children and educate the people around you about tolerance without needing to point to a gay person to do so. 

It is not the duty of any oppressed person to share that experience – we must all, all learn lessons, but teach ourselves, not demand it of others.

Check back the first Saturday of every month for more GRL, Uninterrupted.

Follow Amy on Instagram and Twitter.

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