What you can do
Come Out For LGBT - Friend and Ruth Russell

Ruth Russell

DJ

My club night, Unskinny Bop, has been running for many years as a queer disco in straight venues. The success of this depends a lot on the willingness of the venue staff to help us queer the space, making the toilets gender neutral for the night, providing diversity training for security staff and so on.

The continued support of venue staff like Jade allows us to maintain the space as actively queer, and as far as possible, ensure it is a comfortable and positive environment.

Reflecting on LGBTQ equality, we’ve seen massive gains in my lifetime in terms of legal rights and cultural representation. It must be great to grow up seeing queer characters every time you turn on the TV.

These rights are hard won though and we mustn’t be complacent – queer people still face discrimination and violence.

These rights are hard won though and we mustn’t be complacent – queer people still face discrimination and violence and the worldwide shift to the right means we can’t take anything for granted. Some of my friends were gaybashed in London on New Year’s Eve last year and it was a stark reminder that there is still much work to be done.

I had a conversation about language with my mum just recently. She doesn’t understand what being non-binary is, what that means. She asked me ‘Am I allowed to use the word ‘queer’? I know you use it but you are queer. Can I say it too?’.

It’s about treating people as humans and accepting that they are the authority on what their identity is.

I tried to explain that intent and a willingness to listen goes a long way. Of course, it’s possible to accidentally misgender someone or to use the wrong terminology. But if you’re open to being corrected, and can then apologise and put the work in to get it right afterwards, that's ultimately a positive exchange.

It’s about treating people as humans and accepting that they are the authority on what their identity is.

Ruth Russell (right of image)