Reminiscence

We got lost a couple of times over the last few days in talking about the bad old days of Section 28 and the wasteland of the AIDS crisis and the effect that had on us as queer youngsters.

We had little to no representation that wasn’t couched in terms of scandal, death, and abandonment, and so the plethora of support and acceptance that so many people now receive can feel bewildering.

I think in part it’s been prompted by taking part in the event with the Surrey History Centre. It’s made me reevaluate elements of my earlier life and got us all comparing experiences. And that’s where the mix of jealousy and annoyance comes in when younger people don’t recognise their relative privilege compared to the landscape we came through.

We’re proud of how far things have come, but we’re also very aware of how fragile that progress is. Vitriol and attacks on people and rights bubble just under the surface still in far too many places.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than I suppose it highlights the need for LGBT+ History Month so we can celebrate how far we’ve come but remember just how far behind we have been

Doing My Bit

I took part today in a joint event organised between Surrey Libraries and the Surrey History Centre. It was called LGBT+ Stories and was a combination of readings from the archives, and the stories brought by those of us in attendance.

I hadn’t prepared anything, but as an awkward silence settled in when the call for a first story went out, I stepped up. If there’s one thing I can do, it’s weave a story out of nothing. And so I summarised my journey. I twined it with the theme of my own imposter syndrome and brought it back to talking about the importance of visibility.

And then I stopped before I rambled on and took over the whole show – but it did the trick, and broke the ice – and slowly more stories emerged between the excerpts.

So, there’s a thing I’m proud I did, and the transcripts and audio will go in to the archive to bemused future researchers.

Well, Not Technically Wrong

I was rather pleased with being able to get a simple but effective display up in one of my libraries marking LGBT+ History Month. I was even more pleased at the positive feedback from staff and public. Even more so that it has inspired at least one more colleague to start their own.

Today I was informed by a member of staff that we had received congratulations and thanks from a member of the public for our support of the NHS.

With a waved hand towards the display.

Not pictured, any NHS logo

My colleague resorted to the tried and tested nod and smile technique. We do indeed support the NHS. The multiple LGBT+ History Month signs and logos might as well have been invisible.

Life’s too short to be anything other than amused, but I may have quietly rolled my eyes at the confirmation that people just don’t read signs.

Decorating with Rainbows

February is LGBT+ History Month, so I’ve spent a portion of today decorating a library’s windows with flags and logos. As we’re largely closed to the public we can’t do our usual approach of book displays and historical posters, so I’ve improvised.

There are some nice packs of flags and bunting available on Amazon for reasonable prices so I grabbed one to provide the base elements for display.

The subject theme for this year is Mind, Body, and Spirit – a focus on mental health and support – so a raid on the shelves is imminent to build it properly.

Displays Everywhere

As it’s a new month, I’ve rotated round to another library in the area, and brought the buzzing excitement from reopening the previous one with me.

That’s manifested today in directing and encouraging staff to take ownership and control of two displays – one for Valentine’s Day, and the other for LGBT History Month.

Until I’d produced the various printed media created by other teams, the enthusiasm for this latter project was muted in some corners. Then they started to recognise books on the reading list as things we had on the shelves and before long I had people coming up to me with items for consideration.

I’m quietly proud of how they all came round, got invested, and pulled together.