Christmas can be a very difficult time for many LGBTQ+ people

it is traditionally a very heteronormative festival with an emphasis on family. For many LGBTQ+ people, family has a different meaning, often referring to “family of choice” this is often due to necessity as many still face discrimination, rejection, and estrangement from their biological families and turn to their community for a sense of inclusion and belonging.

Since opening in 2013, Birmingham LGBT has held a party on Christmas Day so members of the LGBTQ+ community do not have to spend Christmas Day alone. We have been unable to do this for the past couple of years due to COVID-19 but this year we will be opening our doors again and holding a Christmas Day party.

As a charity we are aware that many of our service users have been affected by the cost of living crisis, with some people having to choose between heating and eating. From January, we will be offering a warm space in our café a couple of times a week. We’re hoping to provide people with blankets, hot water bottles, blanket hoodies and hot drinks.

To do this, we need your help and support to cover the costs of Christmas gifts, food and transport for our Christmas party. Your donations will also help us provide blankets, flasks and hot water bottles to help keep people warm during the cost of living crisis.

You can donate via GoFundMe:

If you’re able, please donate and let members of the LGBTQ+ community know that someone is thinking of them this Christmas.

My name is Max, I’m a Sexual Health Outreach Worker for Birmingham LGBT, and I’m a trans man. I haven’t always felt proud of – or wanted to accept – my trans identity and if I’m honest, I still struggle sometimes.

Trans Day of Remembrance is an important day to acknowledge – as is Trans Awareness Week which precedes it, and Trans Day of Visibility. Started as a vigil in 1999 in memory of Rita Hester, it has evolved into a movement for us to honour and mourn those we have lost to acts of anti-trans bigotry and violence, in a world where it is often still unsafe to be out as trans. Of the 327 trans and gender diverse lives lost between 2021 and 2022, the vast majority are trans women of colour aged between 31 and 40 – highlighting the intersection between racism, misogyny and transphobia. These figures only represent what’s been reported, and there is speculation that there are far more unreported deaths, including those who did not have the opportunity to be laid to rest as their true selves.

From my own experience, coming out as trans can be a difficult process – working through shame, grief, internalised transphobia, a healthcare system with a years-long wait for trans treatment and potentially fraught reactions from friends and family. We often focus on the trials transgender people face, but there is a lot to be said for trans joy as well.

There is strength in community, and the support of others weathering the same storms helps me to not feel so alone. I feel euphoria in a way I never believed possible – feeling connected to my body in a way that feels like I’m coming home to myself. We forge our own paths, and there is resilience in our experiences and our numbers.

We are not going anywhere, and we are valid.

The tragic death of Lyra McKee – a distinguished young journalist and avid LGBT rights campaigner – caused shock, grief and anguish across communities in Northern Ireland and beyond in 2019. Tragic, in that her fight for equal rights for all saw her shot during violent reactions to police raids in a residential area of Derry, by Republican dissidents, where she had recently moved to, from Belfast to be with her partner.

Lyra won awards and accolades as a young journalist and successful writer with a talent for bringing people together. By not shying away from having dialogue with those who opposed her views, Lyra saw the difficulties in Northern Ireland from a unique vantage point, and saw commonalities across communities. The TED talk Lyra gave at Stormont was eloquent and thought-provoking, calling on people to come together and have difficult conversations, breaking down cultural barriers and literally save lives.

Lyra was a tireless campaigner for equal rights for the LGBT community in Northern Ireland and still offers young LGBT people a beacon of hope. Her article “A letter to my 14-year-old self” is simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming, an account of how her life improved as she grew from a young teenager into a young adult. Lyra’s partner Sara Canning spoke with Theresa May at Lyra’s funeral, pointing out her dereliction of duty in not progressing same-sex marriage rights in Northern Ireland. In 2020, Westminster legalised same sex marriage, meaning that had Lyra lived to ask her partner to marry her – something she had planned on doing – she could have been wed in a church.

In life Lyra comforted, touched, and inspired so many people. Her death inspired policy change, and for the legal status for LGBT people to improve across Northern Ireland. Lyra’s light lives on in the hope she gives, through her published letter and the policy she played a part in changing, offering equality. All who love and know her may take comfort in the fact that her untimely death was not in vain.


— Sian Finn, Volunteer Coordinator

This blog is part of a series for LGBT History Month 2022, where members of the Birmingham LGBT Team write about the LGBT people whose lives have influenced and inspired them.

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

From the segregated southern states to the height of academia, via inclusion on the “FBI Most Wanted” list, Angela Davis has lived an extraordinary life. Angela is a political activist, academic, author and civil rights champion, campaigning and writing about racial justice, women’s rights, and criminal justice reform.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944, she was accepted on a de-segregation programme to attend high school in New York. From there, she gained three degrees in the US and Germany and is now professor emerita at the University of California, in its History of Consciousness Department, and a former director of the university’s Feminist Studies Department; despite having employment difficulties in the late 60s, due to her membership of the American Communist Party. Around this time, she was also associated with The Black Panther Party, and was wrongly accused of murder and remanded in jail. Although branded as a terrorist by the FBI, people around the world, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, campaigned for her release, and in 1972, an all-white jury found her not guilty.

Angela then continued her distinguished speaking, teaching and writing career, and came out as lesbian in 1997, when she was one of the founders of Critical Resistance, to dismantle what they call the “prison industrial complex”. She also founded the African American Agenda 2000, a group of Black feminists working to combat racism, sexism, and homophobia, in response to the all-male “Million Man March”. Her books include If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance and Women, Race and Class.

I am a member of Birmingham Clarion Singers choir, singing for peace and social justice, and Angela Davis is an inspiration to us all. One of our former Presidents, composer Alan Bush, wrote “Song for Angela Davis”, which we perform today. I can think of no better way to describe why Angela Davis inspires me than the words, written by Nancy Bush:

You, who are proud to name your race, and not afraid to speak your mind

You, whom they made a prisoner, as their accuser stand.


— Maria Hughes, Ageing Better Network Enabler

This blog is part of a series for LGBT History Month 2022, where members of the Birmingham LGBT Team write about the LGBT people whose lives have influenced and inspired them.

In the run up to summer of 1992 whilst taking a break from A Level English revision, I went with a friend to see a then relatively unknown film called My Own Private Idaho. I had been expecting some light relief after many hours spent learning quotes from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part One, but was surprised instead to discover that the film was a remake of the very same play. However, my other discovery was far more revealing to me – that a whole new queer world was out there which felt like home.

Gus Van Sant is the director of My Own Private Idaho. He is an American independent filmmaker who represents people on the margins who don’t quite fit in. He is also gay and has made a huge contribution to gay representation in film. Some of his films explore gay identities explicitly in all of their diversity, whilst others are more subtle and change the way we look at the male characters on screen.

His most openly gay films include My Own Private Idaho, which stars Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix as rent boys falling in and out of love, and Milk, an emotional biopic of gay rights activist Harvey Milk. However, he is also celebrated as developing the ‘gay gaze’, in which the viewer is encouraged to look at male characters through a gay lens, changing the gender politics of the genre. These films are often considered to be his more pioneering and radical legacy. His remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho, which invites the audience to be voyeurs of Vince Vaughn – the male lead, rather than Anne Heche – the female victim. Also by Van Sant, Good Will Hunting explores various expressions and kinds of male love of men.

So, my queer icon this LGBT History Month is an insightful and tender director who has had a lasting impact – both on queer cinema and also on my own sense of self.


— Richard Anderson-Baguley, Counsellor

This blog is part of a series for LGBT History Month 2022, where members of the Birmingham LGBT Team write about the LGBT people whose lives have influenced and inspired them.