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Continue to be proud and resilient

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Resilience is a necessity that every human being has and requires. Discovering that you are a resilient person who is making resilient moves without knowing is a rewarding experience.

Of course, there will be times when situations will force resilience upon you. These can be circumstantial, or simply because you identify with a group who certain societies, or thinktanks, are not ready to accept as equal. 

June marks a celebration to many who simply want to make their way in the world, yet often experience prejudice, or worse, simply because of who they are.

For 30 days, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies celebrate their identities, accomplishments, and reflect on the struggle for equality. A celebration of difference and resilience, and one that is still vital for many reasons that are negative as well as positive.

Or, rather the media shine a spotlight on a community that wants to be treated as quickly for 30 days. Often as an act of tokenism and a tick-boxing exercise rather than supporting real change and equality.

Having the opportunity to work with Boingboing, who aims to aims to model and promote resilience research, while challenging practices that challenges social inequalities, I discovered that resilience is more than just a word. From seminars and training to the Framework itself, resilience is a movement, a mantra, of what staff do through its many projects and. Often coproducing a service to those with nowhere to turn and feel they have little hope, to working with marginalised groups, resilience is often part of an act we use every day, often without even realising. 

As a male that identifies as heterosexual, there has never been any pressure on me to ‘come out’. That wasn’t a particular struggle I had to worry about and a resilience I was not forced to call upon. Now, I am by no means suggesting that every member of the LGBTQ+ community has had to struggle, but I think of the bravery of Blackpool FC’s Jake Daniels, who recently became the first gay male footballer to publicly do so while still playing since the late Justin Fashanu in 1990. The story made headlines all over the world. I use the word ‘bravery’ with some sadness. In 2022, a person’s sexuality can, and will, still make headline news, particularly those in certain professions and industries.

Daniels’ story can hopefully be one that can be used as a force of good and evoke real change, rather than a tick boxing exercise for companies to make often empty gestures of support to show their inclusivity and equality as the month of June rolls around. I would like to think the 17-year-old will be treated as he is; a young footballer looking to make his way in the world and wanting to be judged by his performances on the field rather than his sexuality. 

The football industry still evokes evoke much feeling and emotion; from the fan whose mood that was greatly influenced by the result, to the employee fortunate enough to immerse himself in the charity side of the sport. I've been able to witness the influence a football club can have on communities and individuals alike. I was delighted to witness racism and religious intolerances being tackled, so I am hopeful that the sexuality of our players will be challenged in the same way. Working with Kick It Out inspired the hope that change is happening.

The last taboo - sexuality - has been the one that received the least attention, particularly the sexuality of males. Many times, I heard homophobic slurs being chanted. Insults directed at a player receiving treatment for an injury because many fans were absolutely convinced there was nothing wrong with him. Listening to Brighton and Hove Albion players and fans being the subject of abuse simply because the city they represent is one that proudly embraces gay culture. The ignorance and intolerance was largely unpunished, and widely accepted as part and parcel of the game.

Let’s be clear, it is anything but acceptable!

Who knows, perhaps one day, sexuality won’t matter, and marginalised groups won’t feel so marginalised, and have to call on resilience because of who they are and what they identify as. A day when contributors of Wikipedia won’t feel the need to declare a celebrity as ‘openly gay’ when readers check out the ‘Personal Life’ section when looking up someone in the public eye.

The actor Andrew Scott sums it up perfectly: Mercifully, these days people don't see being gay as a character flaw. But nor is it a virtue, like kindness, or a talent, like playing the banjo. It's just a fact. Of course, it's part of my make-up, but I don't want to trade on it.”

For so many years the LGBTQIA+ community have felt afraid or nervous to speak openly about partners or honestly discuss identities or sexualities. Many people still don’t feel safe or comfortable being open about their sexuality due to discrimination and hate, and there’s a long history of that being the sad reality for so many people too, that their existence is hidden or kept secret. Social justice and equity for the LGBTQIA+ community is to be able to proudly be your authentic self without fear of repercussions like hate or negativity. To enjoy the same sense of freedom and safety when out with partners or discussing issues relating to identity, romantic lives or sexualities as straight and gender conforming people do.

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