What LGBT+ History Month means to me and my well-being

February 2023

In a guest blog, Stevie reflects on inspiring figures in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights and what connecting with the community has meant for her mental well-being

I always knew – from a very young age – that I had a secret I needed to keep. From around nine years old, I was aware of my attraction towards the same sex. Unfortunately, I was also acutely aware of societal norms and expectations of me as a girl and later as a woman – namely, that I should only be interested in heterosexual sex, with a view to procreating.

I grew up in the early 1980s and attended a convent Catholic school, so there was little room for me to redress this imbalance between the reality I knew deep down and wider societal expectations. Against this backdrop, it didn’t take long for internalised homophobia to manifest itself in my life, thoughts and way of being.

When I came out in my late twenties, I hadn’t realised just how much of my identity was built around this internalised homophobia and the impact this was having on my mental health. That is, until I started to spend time amongst the gay community.

From self-hate to self-acceptance

I found myself locked in a paradox, where everyone else was accepting of me apart from myself. I was so confused to still be harbouring feelings of self-hate, anxiety and general inferiority to those around me.

One of the big changes that helped ease my feelings of internalised homophobia was realising that homosexuality had been removed from official lists of mental disorders – in the US in the early 1970s and by the World Health Organisation in 1992. This gave me a profound sense of relief and clarity. Slowly I gained confidence and started to understand that I had no reason to hate myself. The LGBTQIA+ community reinforced to me that it was other people’s problem and not mine! I was not alone, and bigger and better changes were ahead!

My LGBTQIA+ role models

For me, LGBT+ History Month is a time to educate, celebrate and reflect on the immense progress we have made as a community through diligent campaigning and acts of activism.

A big inspiration for me was Bayard Rustin, a close adviser to Martin Luther King. Not only was he an openly gay Black man, but he also played a very significant part in the civil rights movement (before being shamelessly pushed into the shadows for his sexuality). However, his resilience continued to shine through and he was at the forefront of educating the Black community in the US about the Aids crisis.

One of my UK role models is Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner who is best known for his activism within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Peter formed the group ‘OutRage’ and campaigned tirelessly for gay rights, putting pressure on governments to change legislation with a view to ‘equalising’ the treatment of heterosexual and LGBTQIA+ communities.

There are two particular acts of activism, instigated by Peter, which I distinctly remember. One is OutRage’s 'kiss-in' protest in the early 1990s, which was held bang in the middle of a very busy Piccadilly Circus. Hundreds of gay men were invited to sit in the middle of the road and kiss – to protest against arrests of gay men for kissing in public. It was most certainly a talking point at the time and the world could not escape the urgency of our rights... To be free to kiss in public!

[LGBTQIA+ community and culture] has played a significant role in me accepting and embracing my identity, improving my mental health and self-esteem, and enjoying what life has to offer as a gay woman


Peter was also the international coordinator of 'Stop Murder Music’. This was a campaign against Caribbean artists, such as Buju Banton and Bounty Man, who not only condemned homosexuality with their lyrics but, Peter argued, incited violence towards LGBTQIA+ people, even glorifying their murder.

After many protests and venues cancelled musicians, the Reggae Compassionate Act was born and artists agreed to stop producing and performing ‘murder music’. Although not all artists signed the agreement!

These are just some important moments and figures in our rich LGBTQIA+ history that are significant for me personally. There are plenty more.

I would be lost without the fantastic community and culture that we now have among LGBTQIA+ people – and it has played a significant role in me accepting and embracing my identity, improving my mental health and self-esteem, and enjoying what life has to offer as a gay woman. But I recognise that none of this would have been possible without the determination and dedication of the creators of our gay rights movements and to them I am truly, truly grateful.