As LGBT History Month 2020 draws to a close I can’t help but feel reflective about what a fantastic month it has been for me, both in my professional life as an LGBT+ advocate, consultant and trainer and also in my personal life as a lesbian cisgender woman who will soon be married!
This month saw Andrew Moffatt MBE’s public lecture at Loughborough University in partnership with Equality Action, for whom I am a trustee. It was such an honour to invite Andrew to be the guest speaker, to introduce him to the sixty strong audience and also to chair the Q & A about his work on the ‘No Outsiders’ programme. Having worked with Andrew on a piece of work previously, I have seen first-hand the positive impact the concept of ‘No Outsiders’ has had at Park Field School in Birmingham. A place where bullying is almost non-existent and where our next generation are learning, not only about difference; but that difference is something to be celebrated and something that makes our community and everyone in it, unique.
ALL ABOARD THE ‘AUNTIE TRAIN’
It was hearing Andrew’s public lecture that got me thinking about something that I always talk to others about but will soon become a reality for me. No, not getting married, although I am very excited about being Mrs Baker-Vine; becoming an Auntie. My wonderful twin sister Rachel is going to have a baby any day now, and I am all aboard the ‘Auntie train’ and have been ever since they told us they were pregnant back in July last year.
However, I have been wondering about what my niece or nephew will think about LGBT+ identities, how mine and Laura’s marriage and our relationship with them will shape them, but also how other people will influence their thinking around LGBT+ identities and the impact this will have on them also.
WE’RE THE BAKER-VINES & AUNTIE LISA & AUNTIE LAURA
I want my niece or nephew to see myself and my soon-to-be wife Laura, not only as the ‘Baker-Vines’ but more importantly simply ‘Auntie Lisa’ and ‘Auntie Laura’. I want them to come bounding into our bedroom, most probably at some ridiculous hour on a Sunday morning and get in between us and read a story. I want them to know that Laura and I are married, that we share a house, a life and are committed to one another; just as Mummy and Daddy are too. However, I also want to have the most fun with them. I’ll ride all the rollercoasters if they want me to, I’ll bake a thousand cup-cakes and I’ll build the tallest Lego tower!
This is vital because one day, when they go to school or even nursery, their sphere of influence will change. My sister and her fiancé Pete won’t be able to control who they meet and the kind of comments or attitudes that they might hear or witness. And yes of course this is all part of growing up, but I am aware they may be told that having two Aunties is ‘wrong’ or ‘weird’ or worse still they may get bullied for having two Aunties and this will absolutely break my heart.
LET’S CREATE ACCEPTING, SUPPORTIVE & KIND ENVIRONMENTS
And this is why creating accepting, supporting and kind environments where children and young people not only learn about difference but also celebrate it, is so important. I want all children to experience a school environment where prejudice and bigotry of all kinds are challenged, where differences are celebrated and different viewpoints articulated in a respectful manner.
As an LGBT+ advocate and as a lesbian I won’t be hiding or downplaying my marriage to Laura, what that means and the fact we are different. In time, as my niece or nephew grows older, I want them to learn more about LGBT+ people and our community but for the first few years I want them to recognise us and love us as two Aunties and know more than anything that we love them to the end of the world.