Isolation diary: Being an ally

A year ago Kingston’s Guildhall flew the Pride flag for the first time. This was an initiative of one of our councillors, Sam Foulder-Hughes. We attended a short ceremony to mark the occasion, and I was struck by the way Sam thanked allies like us – straight people who support LGBT+ equality.

I hadn’t heard the term ally used in that context before, but I have also been hearing it recently in relation to Black Lives Matter. Yes, those of us who have no living experience of belonging to a specific identity can still empathise and campaign with those who do.

Today would have seen the Pride in London parade. The flag is flying this week again in Kingston, though sadly I can’t go in to see it, and there are numerous online events, including some Lib Dem ones, to mark the day. Google London Pride and the search engine throws up a rainbow border.

My active support for the LGBT+ community goes back to the 1970s, long before the time when that shorthand was commonly used. It was only a few years earlier that the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 had made homosexual acts between consenting men legal – acts between women had never been illegal.

I was working in an Anglican teacher training college where the Principal was openly gay and an active member of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. In those days the CHE was a rather sedate organisation pushing for change through education rather than revolution – years later it was infiltrated by a paedophile group and, quite properly, lost a great deal of public support.

Gay staff and students were drawn to the college because it was seen as a safe place. Several of my students came out to me and I could see how difficult it was for them to deal with prevailing attitudes, which were still less than welcoming. I was asked such questions as: “Is it OK for me to wear my Gay Pride badge when I am on teaching practice?”. I actually didn’t think it appropriate for teachers to refer to their sexuality, whatever it was, to their pupils, but I fully supported them at a time when some people questioned whether lesbian and gay people should be teachers at all.

Since then both of us have personally supported friends and colleagues who were discriminated against because of their sexuality. We have signed up to Inclusive Church and our own church states its inclusive welcome on the website, on notice sheets and on the front door of the building. I also belong to a Facebook group Christians for LGBTI+ Equality.

I’m proud to be known as an ally.

 


Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.

 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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