Wavehill reflects on LGBTQ+ History Month
February marked LGBTQ+ History Month across the UK, which was a period of reflection and retrospect for Wavehill in particular. The theme of LGBTQ+ History Month in 2022 was Politics in Art: ‘The Arc is Long’, based on Dr. Martin Luther-King Jr. quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. This phrase should not endorse determinism or undermine the need to take proactive steps towards social justice. It is a reminder of how far there is still to go to eradicate structural inequalities and discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ communities.
At Wavehill, we are conscious of how easy it is to write a blog or tweet in support of LGBTQ+ History Month, without meaningfully doing the work the rest of the year to educate ourselves and ensure we reinforce our words with actions. We recognise we are on a journey to improve our own awareness and practices within Wavehill, and our Diversity, Equality & Inclusion committee are putting practical actions in place to address these gaps. Equally, we are working hard to ensure these conversations happen across the whole organisation and are considered in all our work, not only on committees or in board meetings but with clients and collaborators where appropriate.
We recently finished our work for Welsh Government analysing the responses to the public consultation of the LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales. This cross-government plan is comprehensive in scope and represents a tangible commitment towards equality for all in Wales. For those of us who worked on this project, it has served as a timely reminder of the basic rights and recognition that LGBTQ+ people have fought for and won over recent decades, and the work needed to build on these gains.
The LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales, commits the Welsh Government to take concrete steps towards a society in which LGBTQ+ people are not only safe to live and love authentically but face no barriers or structural inequalities due to their sexual orientation or gender reassignment. Our work provided an analysis of the issues, themes, and perspectives that arose from the responses to the Action Plan. This is a key component of open and democratic government, and our independent and robust analysis of the responses will support Welsh Government as they refine the Action Plan and move towards its practical implementation.
As LGBTQ+ History Month concludes, it feels appropriate to acknowledge what a momentous commitment the Action Plan is for Wales and LGBTQ+ rights. As the UK finds itself recently condemned by the Council of Europe for attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, there is no room for complacency. Yet it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the rich history of Pride across the UK. This summer will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pride march in the UK, first held in London in 1972. Our experience in rural development and cultural infrastructure also reminds us that London is not a universal metric for change or culture. Pride Marches in our other office locations soon followed. The first Bristol Pride was in 1977. Aberystwyth’s Pride on the Prom started in 2012, which is the closest such event to our Aberaeron head office, whilst the first Pride march in Wales was held in Cardiff in 1985 where Pride Cymru continues. Finally Northern Pride (in Newcastle) officially started in 2008.
Recognising more recent milestones, in 2009 the ONS collected sexual identity data in its Integrated Household Survey for the first time. We also eagerly await the results of the 2021 Census, which is the first to collect data on both sexual orientation and gender identity in England and Wales. Data collection, analysis, and use are crucial for evidence-based policymaking, and without the data in the first place, it is hard to do our research and evaluation work. However, we recommend an article by Dr. Kevin Guyan which considers what the new census questions could mean for communities that have been historically understood as ‘hard to reach’.
As such, whilst quality data is intrinsic for quality research and evaluation, the role of the researcher in analysis and interpretation is more important still. This is where mere numbers on a spreadsheet become knowledge, which in turn becomes history. Throughout the year we will continue learning, and we endeavor to translate this learning into all our work, whether it be through client meetings, data collection processes, or internal recruitment. The arc may be long, but the end goal of a society in which everybody can thrive is not a given. We are committing to putting in the work to ensure that LGBTQ+ History does not end with February, but acts as a catalyst to listen, learn and act.