LGBT+ History Month: Interview with helpline volunteer Michele

For the second in our series of interviews marking LGBT+ History Month, we’ve had a chat with one of our volunteers, Michele (she/they), who works on our helpline.

Our conversation with them is detailed below. We hope you enjoy reading it. 

Please could you tell us about yourself?
I’m 29 years old, in a long-term relationship and live in Brighton. A former chocolatier, I’m now studying Psychology with Counselling.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?
It means celebrating everyone who has come before us and our communities’ current successes, and spending time with friends and community and recognising our joint histories from all cultures.

Why is it important?
It is important for a sense of community. It is important to see yourself reflected in others and to be recognised by a community, especially when some of us may not have that accessibility in our day-to-day lives. It can be a great way of learning new things, for celebrating and meeting new friends.

Is there anything or anybody that it makes you think about, reflect on or do? Do you celebrate or mark the month in a certain way?
Around this time, I think of my high school friends a lot. It was with them that I went to my first Pride, which was a very small one in Pittsburgh. It was magical the first time we felt like we could be open, and so many people were happy!

Nowadays, I get together with my LGBTQ+ book club friends and we exchange books that we have found helpful in terms of understanding our LGBTQ+ identities or experiences.

Who are your LGBT heroes?
I know it’s cheesy but to be honest my friends. I know their stories intimately, their journey of growth and confidence. I am in awe of them.

The theme of this year’s LGBT+ History Month is #Medicine – UnderTheScope – what does this make you think about?
It makes me think of how our community needs to tackle the accessibility to gender-affirming care. Furthermore, why members of our community may need support accessing the care and medicine they need is an ongoing and dynamic process and needs to be challenged.

Are there any moments in LGBT History that resonate with you or mean something to you? If so, how do they do this?
I’ve recently been trying to reconnect with my heritage and learning about Filipino LGBTQ+ history. In the precolonial era, Babaylans were female spiritual leaders in their communities, whose positions could also be taken by men who had fluid expressions of gender. It reminds me that there is a long history of fluidity, and I hope to learn more!

How would you encourage readers to celebrate/mark LGBT+ History Month?
In whichever way makes you feel happy – dinner with close friends, partying until sunrise, spending time in nature, or learning about LGTBQ+ history! Anything is valid. I particularly like reading LGBTQ+ mythologies from around the world.

What would you say about Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard’s place in LGBT history?
I think we are a part of a wider community providing mutual aid and care. We all need each other, and Switchboard can provide support for anyone who needs it.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about LGBT+ History Month?
I like to think of this month as a reflective period, to think of progression, where we have come from and where we hope to go; also, to remember those who have come before us and honour them; and to take a little break and celebrate with our chosen family. Celebration is just as important as reflection.