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Image of a tree with sketch of character Rufus Stone layered on top
February 8, 2021
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It’s not often I sit down to watch a TV series, so infrequent that I find myself surprised by conventions such as advert breaks, it takes a while before a new program bubbles into my awareness and so I am late to the It’s a Sin party, and so far have only watched the first two episodes. That the first scene is set on the Isle of Wight, and Ritchie’s dad warns him that it’s different on the mainland struck a chord with me, as did the brutal and yet so casual racism that laces the first episode. We’re definitely back in the 80’s. I’m no pundit to give acclaim or critique, I’m simply a viewer, a statistic, one of those 6million who have now streamed the series and here we are in LGBT+ History Month and I’m thinking about not only making history but changing it.

The show tells us that in the 80’s one had to travel to London to be gay, and here I am reminded of the award winning short film Rufus Stone written and produced by Chrysalis ally Dr Kip Jones,  recently retired from Bournemouth University. In Rufus Stone Kip tells us the story of those left behind, of the gay man who couldn’t leave the village. He didn’t have the financial or intellectual capital of those who were able to go away and make another life, to hope to live where the neighbours knew and didn’t care. A life where the only gossip was that within your found family, the new all encompassing whole which gave you the mental nourishment, and not a spite that could destroy your life, and that of those you cared about. It’s a Sin is brutal, it’s real, and I’m only on episode two but why am I writing about it here? I’m writing about it, and joining the two together because I want to tell you about how you can help make history. How you can be part of the movement that is making things better. We have moved away from that casual discrimination, the abuse that came from all angles, where every TV show was white and straight, where there was no chance of a role model because to be who you were would cause you to lose your job, but transition is a process, change happens over time and we are not there yet.

The Census 2021

Every ten years all those living in the UK are counted, recorded. Where we live, what we do, our faith and our ethnicity captured for posterity. The data forms the backbone of local and national funding strategies, tells us how many schools we need, what can be upgraded, where perhaps there is less need. Should we have more buses, how are people going to get from A to B, all those essentials that keep this fair island ticking over, even if sometimes it tocks. All strands of diversity, all protected characteristics of the Equality Act are known, pinned to the page, the anonymous data hard and uncompromising. Here in this area the majority of the population follow this faith, there we have people all of this race. But the data is not whole, it is not everything, because until now the data did not ask one’s sexuality or gender identity.

This year (2022 in Scotland) change is real, this year we can make history because this year, for the first time ever we are able to declare our gender identity and our sexuality on the census.

Now if you’re not a data nerd like me you might not think that this is important, you also might think that the government shouldn’t have that kind of data on you, that’s OK – these questions are optional, you don’t have to tell anyone but you might want to. Why might you want to?

Because getting accurate data on the amount of LGBTQ+ people in the UK for the first time will give charities like Chrysalis access to funding, it will help the gender clinics be properly resourced, it will achieve what all those Pride marches and campaigns started, it will mean that LGBTQ+ people are finally and irrevocably visible and part of our society.

When Chrysalis delivers training we pride ourselves on the accuracy of our data, we capture it straight from the source and we really know the impacts of denial, discrimination and abuse on people. Now imagine how much more power our data could have if we can show funders that data against a real number of citizens of the UK. When we want to set up a new group we will be able to demonstrate with authority the number of people in an area that we can help. We will be able to show not just what we do, but through  demonstrating the power authenticity brings to people we can show them the significance of that change.

If you want to know more about the census 2021 and these two questions then give one of the Chrysalis team a ring on 03448 468 545. Want to know more about how to stay safe, want reassurance about the way the data is anonymised, worried that you live in a household where you are not out? We can help. The whole team met with our local Census Engagement Manager for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area, last week for training and Chrysalis is proud to have been involved with this project for the last year.

If you are wondering what Chrysalis could do with all the additional funding we’ll be able to apply for once the numbers are released, once the assumptions become fact, if you’ve got some ideas or want to look at developing Chrysalis support in your area then drop me a message, we are always looking for new connections, new contacts and new volunteers and new friends.

And now I wish you a chilly au revoir as I look at the snow still falling and feel for all those who would usually have been looking forward to snow days and now have more days of the same instead.

See you next week and I leave you with a reminder that there are spring growing things and we have indeed been promised that the sun will return and that hearts planted in the winter come to flower in the spring (I fear I may have actually, finally, been bitten by the gardening bug!).

A mix of green shoots and yellow/orange flower buds sprouting up from brown earth, the flower buds form a loose heart shape
Beauty takes time to develop
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