LGBT+ History Month

Neon rainbow with grafitti wall in the background. Phrases on wall include Love wins and love is love. Neon text reads Claiming our past, celebrating our present, creating our future

For LGBT+ History Month, our LGBTQ+ Project Worker Izzy has written an article exploring the work that SARI is doing to improve the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people in our community.

CLAIMING OUR PAST – celebrating our present – creating our future

LGBT+ History Month is a time for us to celebrate the positive contributions which LGBT+ people have made in society and for us to appreciate the massive strides in LGBT+ acceptance and allyship that have been made over the last 20 years.

However, it’s also a time where we must acknowledge the present lived experiences of many LGBT+ people which highlight the need for us to continue to challenge the damaging ideologies and attitudes that are targeted towards this community. The devastating shooting at Club Q, in Colorado, last November and the senseless murder of Brianna Ghey just this month are two extreme examples of the brutality LGBT+ people can face when prejudices are left unchallenged.

LGBT+ History month at sari

Across the UK, 26,152 homophobic hate crimes and 4,355 transphobic hate crimes were recorded by the police over 2021/22. Transphobic hate crimes increased 56% from 20/21, the largest increase seen for this year and one of the largest increases seen for any hate crime classification in recent years. The homophobic classification saw an increase of 41%. This does not even account for the large number of hate crimes that go unreported. According to Stonewall’s most recent report, 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people have experienced hate crime/incidents in the last six months, with only 19% reporting this to the police. These statistics show that hate crimes against LGBT+ people are not only on the rise, but that the LGBT+ community are at higher risk of suffering in silence than other communities.

At SARI, we see first-hand how these statistics manifest on a daily basis. The hate crime and hate incidents our clients experience range massively from anti-social behaviour to physical assaults, but the detrimental impact on the victim’s wellbeing is apparent in all types of incident and attack. Although casework is the largest service we offer, we know it is not enough to be reactive but proactive if we want to improve the lived experiences of all LGBT+ people. This cannot be done without recognising that LGBT+ individuals are not homogenous. The individuals we support usually hold a combination of different identities, their experiences are unique and how they walk through the world is nuanced, which is why intersectionality is at the core of our approach at SARI. 

LGBT+ History Month encourages us to claim our past, celebrate our present and create our future. As part of this, we want to highlight the important work we are doing to be proactive in bettering the lives of LGBT+ people, both locally and nationally.

We listened to the recommendations set out by renowned LGBT+ organisations and want our work to continue to be informed by the lived experiences of the LGBT+ community. This is why we have a dedicated LGBTQ+ Project Worker, to offer specialist support to our service users and bring LGBT+ issues to the forefront.

Towards the end of last year, we developed and delivered our own first LGBT+ focused workshop session for schools. This focused on what it means to be LGBT+ and the unique challenges faced by this community, and highlighted how young people can become allies and create change.  

We also began developing an LGBT+ focused training package to deliver to organisations which, similarly to the above, highlights the unique needs of and challenges to LGBT+ people and what is best practice when engaging with them. We have delivered focused sessions such as this to police and have further LGBT+ dedicated sessions booked with other statutory agencies.

Last year also marked the launch of the Trans and Non-binary Best Practice Guidance for health and social care professionals which SARI led on with the help of several partners including Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), Bristol Independent Mental Health Network, the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Trans in the City and others. This is a much-needed document which provides best practice tips and advice on how to provide the best service for trans, non-binary and gender queer peoples and outlines the complex routes they often have to navigate to access gender-affirming healthcare and support services. This publication marked years of dedicated work in the face of anti-trans+ opposition and would not be possible without the invaluable lived-experience contributions from members of the LGBT+ community.

We have also continued our contributions to important networks that are aiming to create more inclusive and supportive spaces for the LGBT+ community. These include the BANES LGBTQ+ Action Network, which SARI is now leading on, and the Allies Network that operates across BANES, North Somerset and Somerset.

Another active part of our work in supporting LGBT+ people is working with our partners in the Diversity Trust as a support for the various LGBT+ Networks they have set up across the region. As part of this work, we have helped lead community discussions about how to amplify LGBT+ voices and make accessing services easier for the community.

Towards the end of 2022, a few members of our team completed a walk-about of notable LGBT+ venues in Bath city centre with members of Avon & Somerset Constabulary. Our aim was to raise awareness of our services and demonstrated the willingness of police to deal with LGBT+ hate crime, something that we acknowledge has not always been evident to the community.

Through allyship, awareness raising, training and advocacy we will continue to contribute to what we hope will be a positive wave of change that will make the UK a safer space for our LGBT+ citizens. Not just in the context of LGBT+ History Month but every day.