Usdaw speaks to its LGBT activists to find out what LGBT history month means to them and why it’s so important.
LGBT history month means a lot to myself as I’m sure it does to a lot of other LGBT people around the world. It’s important to remember those who fought, at a great personal cost, for the rights we have today. It’s important not only to recognise their achievements but also learn from past struggles.
LGBT people can face discrimination in their working lives from colleagues, customers and company policies and procedures. However, the LGBT community can find solidarity under the trade union banner. By coming together as union members, we can bring about a fairer society for all.
I became involved in the union because I have a strong belief in equality. Everyone has the right to love who they want, without prejudice. I’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination and know the detrimental effect this can have on a person’s life and mental wellbeing. That’s why I wanted to help and support others. The union has allowed me to pursue my passion and has given me a great opportunity help make someone’s working life better.
LGBT history month means raising more awareness and combating prejudice against the LGBT community while celebrating its achievement and diversity. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 6 years since gay marriage was legalised (except in Northern Ireland where it only became legal in January 2020). Although we have come a long way, the current climate shows that we can never be complacent and that we still have a long way to go.
My involvement in the union began when I attended a meeting with a friend of mine. Ever since then I’ve been active and vocal. The union is a community which reaches out to LGBT workers and welcomes them into the union. Usdaw has great equalities forums and a fantastic equalities section. The union has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to helping and supporting LGBT workers.
LGBT history month is a time to look back and recognise the achievements of our predecessors but it’s also a time to look forward and work out what more we need to do to achieve equality.
Everyone should join a union. But it’s even more important that LGBT workers join because they are more likely to face issues at work. Joining a union means LGBT workers can have a voice and bring their knowledge and experience to the table. This is vital to helping shape discussion and LGBT-friendly policies and procedures.
I was inspired to get active and involved in Usdaw by colleagues. Once I got involved it was comforting to know that I belong to a union that fights inequality and it reassures me that the discrimination I experienced in a previous job won’t happen again. Being an activist also gives me a platform to share my experiences and support colleagues who may be struggling in their working environment.
LGBT history means a lot to me. It gives LGBT people the chance to learn about their roots. We learn about the struggles our communities went through to get us to where we are today. As a minority you don’t see yourself reflected in society so it’s important to have events like this where we can see people like us contributing and making a difference to society.
I would always encourage LGBT workers to join a union. Union membership is your insurance if things go wrong. It ensures that you are treated fairly and that you are protected from discrimination. Employers have HR teams and solicitors working on their behalf and if you’re not in the union, you have no-one to stick up for you. That’s why workers need unions to protect their interests and fight their corner.
I got involved in the union because in my previous job I was bullied and harassed. Because I wasn’t in the union I had to pay for a solicitor to take on my case. I realised then how important it was to be in a union. When I started working in a unionised workplace I became active because I wanted to help my colleagues. The reps in my store noticed what I was doing and approached me to become a rep. I’ve been a rep ever since!