Collins English Dictionary describes ‘inclusivity’ as “the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc.”
Over the last four years, we have heard many refer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans+ (LGBT+) community as the ‘gay’ community. Although gay is an accurate label for how we both personally identify, it is not fit for purpose when describing a diverse group of people, many of whom do not identify as gay.
One of the reasons we set up Proud2Be, is to influence change in a society that continues to exclude certain of its members by the messages it sends out to them.
We found, through personal experience, that these messages, however subtle they may seem, can be detrimental to a person’s view of themselves and their place in the world.
When ‘gay’ is used as an umbrella term, the message that is sent out is that those in the community who do not identify as gay are not included.
LGBT is not a new term and has been in use since the 1990’s. Bisexual and trans people were at the forefront of the LGBT+ rights movement.
Brenda Howard was a bisexual rights activist and is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating a rally and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Brenda also originated the idea of a week-long series of events around Pride Day, which inspired the annual LGBT+ Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every year.
The iconic Stonewall riots of 1969 were dominated by trans people. “It was mostly a trans riot” says long-standing trans activist Roz Kaveney. However, trans people would find themselves often driven out of the movement.
We admit that language can be limiting. Many in our community do not identify as LGBT. It is for this reason that we add the +. It is our way of including those who do not identify as LGBT, but do consider themselves part of the community.
Inclusivity does not begin and end with the words we use but the actions that follow. From the very beginning of Proud2Be’s story, we were keen to ensure that we did not just pay ‘lip service’ but that we walked the walk. Honestly, Jon and I were scared that we did not know it all. We were scared of getting it wrong, saying the wrong thing and misrepresenting our community.
With time, we have come to accept that we will never know it all and are always learning. We are experts of our own experience and no one else’s.
We have worked hard to ensure that there is diverse representation within all aspects of Proud2Be, but we are not there yet. It is our responsibility to ensure that all of our community feel included in what we are doing and feel safe to participate. And we will continue to do what we can to make sure this is a reality for Proud2Be.
Straight people are also part of our community. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, conducted jointly by the Task Force and the NationalCenter for Transgender Equality, 23%, of trans survey respondents identified as straight.
We also know that Proud2Be and the wider LGBT+ rights movement would not be where it is today without the support from people who identify as both straight and cisgender. Our Mum has been our greatest supporter and ally. Many of our volunteers, who identify as straight and cisgender, work tirelessly to support Proud2Be’s vision. Failing to acknowledge their place in our community would to us be utterly disrespectful and completely unforgivable.
There have been several occasions where there has been pressure for us to justify our fully inclusive stance. Our response has become more confident over time and now aims to shift the onus of responsibility onto those groups, organisations and activists who continue to exclude certain members of our community based on who they are.
In the weeks leading up to Proud2Be’s fourth anniversary, naturally, we have both been reminded of why we founded the organisation and our vision for the future.
In the years to come, Proud2Be will become even more inclusive and representational of the whole of our community. Not for any other reason but because both history and our hearts tell us so.
For more information about Proud2Be and the terms we use please visit the website at www.proud2beproject.org
Written by Mat Price
Saturday 27th June 2015, will mark exactly four years since gay identical twins, Mat and Jon Price, founded Proud2Be Project, by recording a short video, explaining why they are both “proud to be gay”. Since then a number of high profile LGBT+ figures have contributed to the international campaign.
Along with endorsements from some of the world’s leading LGBT+ public figures Proud2Be holds a number of well-attended social events in South Devon and hosts a yearly Pride event in Totnes, the latest of which saw around 1000 people attending.
Earlier this year, Proud2Be launched a campaign to gain approval to install a permanent rainbow crossing in Totnes, to celebrate diversity and raise awareness about the issues still faced by the LGBT+ community. If approved, this will be the first of its kind in Europe.
In 2014, Proud2Be announced details of further high profile support, when they named Peter Tatchell, Christine Burns MBE, Aderonke Apata and Andrew Solomon as their patrons.
Mat and Jon said: “Through Proud2Be, both of our lives are richer and more fulfilled than we could have ever imagined possible. Over the last four years we have experienced countless life changing moments and have had the privilege of meeting some amazing people. We are as passionate now as when we started the project in our mum’s spare room. We would like to thank all our friends, family, volunteers and supporters. It has been a joy to share the last four years with you.”
For more information or to request an interview:
Please contact Mat Price on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07583 482592