LGBT+ History Month 2021: Keegan Hirst, Jamie Windust and Maureen Colquhoun
LGBT+ History Month is an opportunity for us to reflect on the fearless work of LGBT+ trailblazers who have helped make the world the place we know today. While we can celebrate the progress we’ve made as a society, it is an important time for us to recognize the inequalities still faced by the LGBT+ Community across the globe and push for change.
Over the next 4 weeks, we will be showcasing figures from history, recent and not so recent, who’s courageousness inspires us at NKD and we hope can inspire you.
Keegan Hirst (He/Him)
‘You can live the life you want regardless of sexuality. Representation shows people what’s possible.’
In a tweet on Monday, Keegan Hirst, retired professional rugby player, perfectly summarised the importance of why we celebrate LGBT+ history month. It explains the power of Hirst’s story as the first British Rugby League Footballer to came out as gay.
The power of a popular sportsman like Hirst, at the time, Batley Bulldogs captain, coming out as gay in 2015 is huge. What’s more, the reaction Hirst was met with shows growing acceptance, particularly in spaces where being gay may still be perceived as ‘taboo’ – in fact, it turned out for Hirst, coming out was ‘not an issue at all’. At his first game after publicly coming out, Hirst was met with raucous cheer, and was met with support and acceptance from the fans, players and community.
Since then, Hirst has come to really embrace the importance of his actions, ‘seeing us big brutes sitting down and talking about our problems … hopefully that helps to prevent just one suicide. If it does, we’ve done our jobs.’
Living our authentic truths.
Whilst our sexuality shouldn’t define us as people, Hirst has found power in his sexuality and clearly others have too. After coming out, Hirst explained in an interview the outpour of love and acceptance he was met with,
‘It took me a long time to come to terms with it so these people who had to wait 50 or 60 years, that’s really sad’ .
Breaking the mould of what it means to be both a rugby player and a gay man, Keegan Hirst is a leader we can all learn from this month.
Watch Hirsts TedX Talk, ‘A Talk about Hope’ here.
Listen to his new podcast, ‘The Hirst Locker’ here.
And check out Sports England to learn about what they’re doing to encourage more LGBT+ people into the world of sport.
Jamie Windust (They/Them)
Jamie Windust might not be a household name… yet! They are a powerhouse of change and influence. Windust is a non-binary writer, editor, model and speaker.
In 2018 they called out the staff of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald for “Misogyny, homophobia, transphobia everywhere” and was also a leader petitioning for gender neutral options in passports. Most recently, in 2020 Windust’s book In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-binary Life was released – a reflective book with anecdotal tales of non-binary reality from dating to dressing. Not only does this bring non-binary lives into the forefront of our social consciousness, it does so in a joyful way, championing queerness and owning our authentic selves, fearlessly. Windust is also a brilliant speaker for TedxLondon and will be one of the hosts for the TedxLondonWomen on Saturday 6th February.
Listen, Learn, Act.
Windust calls us to action: ‘We need you to stand up and show up, because if we’re honest, for so long, no one has.’
What we learn from LGBT+ month, can’t just exist during the month of February; we must take that learning forward and practice being authentic allies in the other eleven months of the year too! We all have a duty to listen to others and ‘stand up and show up’ which we can through actively learning, calling out oppression and discrimination where we see it and make choices to create safe and fair spaces for all – whether it’s in the workplace or at home.
Check out Jamie Windust instagram here.
Windusts non-binary 101 resources here.
Maureen Colquhoun (she/her)
Despite being prevented from holding jobs like a primary school manager, school governor and library committee membership as ‘she talked too much’, Maureen Colquhoun is a powerful LGBT+ icon who fought valiantly for justice for women and LGBT+ groups.
Colquhoun was the first openly lesbian MP in Britain for the Labour party in 1971. Throughout her time serving the government, Colquhoun led on issues such as the Balance of the Sexes bill in 1975, and the decriminalisation of prostitution, famously showing up to parliament with 50 prostitutes. She raised the profile of women’s rights and social inequalities through campaigning for greater abortion rights for women, more support for working women and for the decriminalisation of prostitution.
However, due to discrimination of her sexuality and passion for women’s rights which were classed as ‘trivial’, Colquhoun was voted out of parliament. There is no doubt that Colquhoun’s actions enabled others in their fight for justice and led the courageous example of living by your truth.
The power of defiance.
Colquhoun passed away at the age of 92 on 2nd February 2021 nearly a year after her partner, Babs Todd. Her astounding life proves that those who ‘talk to much’, push the boundaries of what we know to include and amplify those who aren’t heard. This is the power of change.
Check out the Astrae Foundation who fight for the rights of LGBT+ people around the world here.
Find more information about the LGBT foundation click here.
We hope that you found these stories as inspiring as we do, if you have someone you’d like us to feature, why not let us know by hitting the connect button below…