As we ease out of the lockdown
As we ease out of the lockdown and return to some semblance of normal life, for some (me included!) we’re still processing the carnage that’s been COVID-19. This virus devastated the Black and Asian communities and left many of us feeling vulnerable and suffering losses due not only to the disease but to the ongoing underlying health inequality now laid bare. Being forced to shield and remain indoors during the lockdown, meant we were unwilling witnesses to the brutal killing of George Floyd, which circulated on social media, and made its way into round-the-clock news. Soon after more killings – this time that of two Black trans women – Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells made headlines.
These killings – amid entrenched racism and transphobia at a time when we were watching en masse – served to focus our minds and hearts on the fight for equality still faced by Black people and the LGBTQ+ communities, particularly black trans women.
We reacted with an outpouring of solidarity for the family of George Floyd and joined in protests against police brutality and structural racism. The alliances formed between different sections of society were and are amazing. To see the world unite around a simple statement – BLACK LIVES MATTER – was a profound moment in history.
History shows us that LGBTQ+ people have always been present in the struggle for racial, and sexual equality, whether that be the Civil Rights movement in the US or the Suffragettes. Gay Pride started as a protest. There were no police doing the limbo! One of the most interesting aspects is that people especially young people are now questioning history, interrogating what they thought to be true.
It’s important to document these moments of great change. A great example of erased history is that of Bayard Rustin, a black gay man, who influenced Martin Luther King, and was acknowledged only fairly recently. Likewise, in the UK a founding member of the group that started the Stonewall charity was Olivette Cole Wilson, a black lesbian. Individual people can be instrumental in leading social change and make lives better for many people.
As COVID-19 meant we couldn’t attend IRL social events, I like many others, took the opportunity to reflect on the past. I believe documenting the heritage of our communities is vital to the preservation of our histories, and hope that whoever stumbles on it in 10 or 20-years’ time will be inspired and informed.
This year has shown us that we have to show up, stand up, and understand that we are all connected. Love and kindness remain the key and I hope this is something we keep in our hearts as we head back into BBQ season.