Opening up for LGBT+ History Month: Why being seen is crucial

What’s the great thing about people? Well, we’re all different, we are all unique, we all have our own story to tell. Our life experiences are what make us diverse. So, we’re opening up.

Inclusion and diversity is the belief that every single individual matters. And that’s why by opening up and sharing our stories, we can celebrate difference and uniqueness that bit more.  

Every February in the UK is LGBT+ History Month.  At Colt, we reached out to our employees and offered them the chance to open up and highlight an LGBT+ person in history and what they’ve done.

Today we spoke to Alexandra Damianlieva, an Indirect Channel DACH Sales graduate, based in Frankfurt.

Q: Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to open up to us. First, can you sum up what LGBT+ History Month is?
A: LGBT+ History Month is really an opportunity to raise awareness of prejudice against LGBT+ people as well as combating it. It’s also celebrating the diversity within the community, celebrating the achievements of their battles and making the community itself more visible.

Q: Why is it important to the LGBT+ community?
A: I think this month is important to LGBT+ people to really show the long journey they have been on. In the UK, the history month has the tagline, “Claiming our past. Celebrating our present. Creating our future”, and I really think this hits the nail on the head. It is about not forgetting the struggles, celebrating how far we have all come, and what still needs to get better.

Q: What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?
A: For me as an ally, this month is important because I feel like it puts the injustices and problems we still struggle with into the spotlight. It is not about ‘indoctrinating’ the public to become a member of the LGBT+ community, but to make everyone more aware about how hard it is for LGBT+ people to be themselves because of all the injustices and repercussions that come from that.

Q: Do you think we need to do more to talk about LGBT+ history and why?
A: I think the fact we are talking about it is already a huge step we have taken. That’s usually the hardest thing to do. At Colt, I think we are doing a good job at offering information about LGBT+ history.

Q: Who is your role model in LGBT+ history and why?
A: I don’t know if role model is a good word, but I really commend Lil Nas X for coming out. Being famous, being black, being a rapper, and being a country singer, his livelihood depends on other people liking him. The stereotypes and prejudices against LGBT+ members still didn’t stop him from coming out to the world. Members of the LGBT+ community aren’t ‘usually’ black, aren’t ‘usually’ country singers. He showed that yes, yes they can be. It’s not a specific human race or job role that ‘can’ be gay.

I was very surprised and almost proud when he did come out because I felt like that would give other people who identify as ‘gay and black’, ‘gay and country singer’, or ‘gay and famous’ a role model. Someone they can identify with, someone who empowers them to be themselves in public as well. There is an episode of him in HBO’s “The Shop” and he talks about how he internalised homophobia because of society and its low acceptance of the LGBT+ community.

I think that’s really powerful and shows just how destructive society can be, how people start hating themselves because they cannot be who they are.

Q: Do you have a specific quotation that resonates with you in your life?
A: Maya Angelou – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Q: If you could encourage people to do one thing this LGBT+ History Month, what would it be?
A: Read about Stonewall and the Stonewall riots that happened. Put yourself in the shoes of the people who were there and imagine the exclusion that LGBT+ people must have felt up to that point. Never being able to be themselves freely out of fear of legal actions against them. Not being able to be themselves, putting up a show, internal stress and fear. Try to empathise with the LGBT+ community up until the stonewall riots and then think about how those riots changed their lives.

I think that is so powerful and everyone should take a moment to acknowledge the injustice that happened (and still happens today).

For more information about inclusion and diversity at Colt, have a look at our I&D page.

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