Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Isolation and Heritage The LGBT Experience

Ok so here we are some way into LGBT History Month and my thoughts have turned to isolation.

Social exclusion (isolation) is linked to the cultural invisibility we as LGBT communities experience, the EU has stated that it wants to 'fight all forms of discrimination leading to exclusion', (European Commission 2005).

Full participation in society includes not only economical inclusion but cultural participation particularly for the LGBT communities.

European council 7101/04, March 2004, "a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economical, social, cultural life and enjoy a STANDARD OF LIVING AND WELL BEING THAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL in the society in which they live."

This includes sorting out the disadvantages LGBT people experience in education ( including cultural awareness of diversity) and training. However the inclusion of good practice in local authorities relies heavily on individual Council and public authority understanding, acceptance and goodwill.

Joining up: Culture South West Report 2004 [2004]
• encouraging increased access and participation in cultural activities across the South West;
• Improving the quality, relevance and sustainability of the region’s cultural assets and activities;
• supporting the region’s cultural and creative industries and nurturing creativity;
• celebrating regional identity and the rich diversity of South West cultural life and traditions.

LGBT people due to discriminaisation often find it hard to see their potential and their ability to contribute positively to cultural life in their regions, they do not have access to regional celebrations of their cultural heritage. Again without the goodwill and acceptance of indiviuals and Councils celebrations of LGBT Heritage go unmarked or even have forced difficulties metered upon them.

LGBT people are
routinely socially excluded. Participation in cultural activities can be difficult for a multitude of reasons including,economic limitations, geographic locations and educational barriers as well as ever present discriminaisation. This is especially true for the young and older members of the LGBT communities.

Recognition is key to the participation of LGBT people in a cultural life. For this we need robust and concrete policies to ensure that museums, libraries, galleries, records offices and other cultural centres ensure that they reduce invisibility by being open and clear about their inclusion of LGBT Cultural events. So often diversity policies include, race, religion (belief), age, disability and gender (although transgendered people often do not exist in this area).

Media attention of LGBT Cultural celebrations go unnoticed or under reported,leaving LGBT people and the wider communities clueless to events and activities they may find of interest. Media silence is previlant.

Invisibility includes representation in education and within the public sphere, and a whole load of other areas which I do not have the time or skill to cover. Invisibility in terms of public sphere is forced. We see no indication; no clear pointers to our heritage unless we seek it out for ourselves. This gives the impression that history is only heterosexual.

Positive social inclusion would mean that LGBT History month was everywhere, it is not. This gives an impression of negative social inclusion, which could and does have the effect of heightened vulnerability for many LGBT people and communities.

The lack of openly LGBT teachers who could act as positive role models or teachers who can actively ensure that LGBT cultural life and celbrational events are included in the school
curriculum is extremely small. Those that do identify as LGBT find that the 'fight' to ensure inclusion of LGBT Positive education is too much for them. This in its self maintains invisibility of positive cultural awareness and awareness of LGBT Heritage leading potentially to a changeless environment for young LGBT people or those exploring their sexual orientation. The result is the same discriminalisation, the same prejudice, and the same death either from violencent attack or from suicide.