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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: I’m so grateful they fought for my rights

PUBLISHED: 16:17 30 May 2018

Speakers at the event. From left: Islington Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz; Lisa Power, LGBT activist and Stonewall co-founder; Tim Ramsey, Just Like Us founder and CEO; Carmel Littleton, Islington's director of children, employment and skills. Picture: STEVE BAINBRIDGE

Speakers at the event. From left: Islington Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz; Lisa Power, LGBT activist and Stonewall co-founder; Tim Ramsey, Just Like Us founder and CEO; Carmel Littleton, Islington's director of children, employment and skills. Picture: STEVE BAINBRIDGE

2018 Steve Bainbridge

I’m so proud of Islington’s history fighting the appalling section 28 (see here).

I’m too young to remember it being brought in, but I’m old enough to have lived almost all my schooldays under it.

And, believe it or not, the lack of gay sex education didn’t go unnoticed for the simple reason that I am gay and was all too acutely aware that most of what we were being taught didn’t apply to me.

I remember homosexuality being mentioned a grand total of once by my teachers during sex ed, possibly some time during my final year of high school, which is when section 28 was finally binned. Don’t worry if you have gay thoughts, we were told on this occasion: it doesn’t mean you’re gay. It’s probably just a phase.

What a load of nonsense that turned out to be, certainly for me and presumably for the other 5 per cent of the school’s population touched by this apparently unspeakable affliction. What message did that send to those of us already feeling isolated and different?

What Thatcher didn’t realise, or didn’t care about, was that banning authority figures from mentioning homosexuality wasn’t stopping anyone from being gay: it was simply letting ignorance rule, giving the bullies a shield (fortunately I wasn’t their target but “gay” was undoubtedly the insult of choice; perhaps it still is) and leaving a generation of queer people to grow up blind to the risks of STIs and grooming; blind to the public health crisis that had so recently wiped thousands of us out; blind, too, to the rich, wonderful world of gay culture.

I am proud that Islington played a part in overturning this ridiculous law. I had it easy, but my school nonetheless failed me. I want better for Islington’s kids – and, thanks to these heroes and heroines, they’ll get it.


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