Tag Archives: LGBT

Those who fought: Representing HIV/AIDS activism on Wikipedia⤴

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LGBT History month is almost over but before the month draws to a close I want to highlight the brilliant work of the HIV Scotland Wikpedia editathon that took place at the end of January.  The event was supported by the University’s indefatigable Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, and organised by the University’s Disabled Staff Network and Staff Pride Network, who were keen to run another editathon following the success of their previous Pride editathon on LGBT+ Books in Scotland and Beyond.  (I’m proud to have created a page for the controversial lesbian magazine Quim as part of that event.)  I suggested HIV / AIDS activism in Scotland as a potential topic as I’d noticed previously that this important history was almost entirely missing from the encyclopaedia.  Scottish AIDS Monitor and PHACE West had no articles at all, and although an article already existed for Derek Ogg, it only touched on his legal career and made no mention of his prominent AIDS activism.  This omission was all the more glaring in light of the belated public conversation about the impact of the AIDS pandemic sparked by the broadcast of Russell T Davis’ series It’s a Sin.  The Network were keen to address this omission and HIV Scotland also came on board to support the event, and I’m pleased to say that six new articles were created and several others improved. You can find out more about the articles created on the event dashboard here: HIV Scotland Editathon.

As part of the event, I wrote an article about Scottish AIDS Monitor, an organisation I first came into contact with in 1992 at an event at the Tramway which coincided with their seminal exhibition Read My Lips: New York AIDS Polemics.  That event and exhibition, which featured works by Gran Fury, Keith Haring, David Wojnarowicz, Felix Gonzalez-Torress and others, left a huge impression on me.  I was aware of the AIDS pandemic, growing up in the 1980s it was impossible to ignore, even in the Outer Hebrides. Who could forget the stigmatising horror of the Don’t Die of Ignorance campaign?  But it was Read My Lips that really brought home to me the deeply personal impact of all those lost lives, the fight for justice and recognition, and the importance of organisations like SAM in raising awareness, providing support and promoting safe sex.

Read My Lips: New York AIDS Polemics

Returning to It’s a Sin, the second article I wrote this month was a biography of Jill Nalder, the actress and activist who inspired the character of Jill Baxter and who played her mother in the series. I know that there has been some criticism of the series for stereotyping women as carers, and for centering the experiences of a woman whose own sexuality and relationships are elided from the show.  While there’s a discussion to be had there, I think it’s important to acknowledge the many many “ordinary” women who played an important role in awareness raising, fund raising, befriending and yes, caring for, people living with AIDS from the earliest years of the pandemic. 

I still have a copy of the Read My Lips exhibition catalogue, which includes a transcript of Vito Russo‘s seminal speech, Why We Fight, from a 1988 ACT UP demonstration.  These lines really resonated with me. 

“AIDS is really a test of us, as a people. When future generations ask what we did in this crisis, we’re going to have to tell them that we were out here today. And we have to leave the legacy to those generations of people who will come after us.

Someday, the AIDS crisis will be over. Remember that. And when that day comes — when that day has come and gone, there’ll be people alive on this earth — gay people and straight people, men and women, black and white, who will hear the story that once there was a terrible disease in this country and all over the world, and that a brave group of people stood up and fought and, in some cases, gave their lives, so that other people might live and be free.”

Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world, with aspirations to provide “free access to the sum of all human knowledge”.   For this reason more than any other it’s critically important that the history of HIV and AIDS activism is represented on the encyclopaedia.  So that those generations that come after will be able understand the legacy and the courage of those who stood up and fought. 

Wikipedia for Peace at Europride Vienna⤴

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Earlier this month I took some time out from my Edinburgh work to travel to Vienna to take part in the Wikipedia for Peace editathon organized by Wikimedia Austria to coincide with Europride 2019. The event brought together twelve editors from all over the world to create and edit LBGT+ articles in a range of European languages over the course of four days. Unfortunately I missed the first day and half of the event as my travel plans were thwarted when a tree brought down overhead power lines on the West Coast mainline, my train to London was cancelled and I missed my flight. Not the most auspicious start! I eventually managed to get to Vienna on Thursday afternoon in time for a walk around the city visiting significant queer sites, including the home of Josef Kohout, whose experiences of incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp are recorded in Heinz Heger’s The Men With the Pink Triangle. Later in the day we made our way to Wikimedia Austria’s offices for an online meeting of the LGBT+ User Group, which is in the process of scoping a role for an LGBT+ Wikimedia at Large.

On Friday our group spent the morning discussing LGBT+ strategy within the global Wikimedia movement. Issues that were raised included addressing homophobia and discrimination in some Wikipedia chapters and communities, educating Wikipedians around issues relating to gender identity, the need for multilingual LGBT+ style guides, particularly addressing how to write about trans individuals on the encyclopedia without misgendering them. We also felt strongly that as a condition of funding, the Wikimedia Foundation should require chapters to demonstrate how they are actively supporting and promoting equality and diversity, while acknowledging that how chapters are able to do this will look very different across the world.

Wikipedia for Peace 2019, CC BY SA 4.0, Mardetanha on Wikimedia Commons

Friday afternoon was devoted to editing. When I applied to Wikimedia UK for a project grant to attend Wikimedia for Peace, I said that I hoped to create some articles around bisexual topics and individuals, which are sometimes marginalised in the LGBT+ community. The first article I created was Bi Academic Intervention, group of bisexual academics, researchers, scholars and writers, which was formed at the 11th National Bisexual Conference in Notttingham in 1993, an event that I coincidentally attended.  I also translated articles on Sápmi Pride and Serbian gay rights and peace activist Dejan Nebrigić, who was murdered in Pancevo in 1999. That article prompted one of our participants to write a new Serbian article on Arkadija, the first LGBT+ organisation in Serbia, founded by Nebrigić and colleagues in 1990. I translated that article into English too, though it still needs a bit of work to bring it up to scratch.  

The total outputs of the Wikipedia for Peace editathon are:

  • 113 new articles created and translated
  • 5 articles improved
  • 5 meta pages improved
  • 21 new Wikidata items created          
  • 9 Wikidata items improved

Plus hundreds of images of the Europride village and parade. This is a huge achievement for the event, and a significant contribution to improving equality, diversity and queer representation on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia for Peace editathon, CC BY SA 4.0, Mardetanha, on Wikimedia Commons.

The parade itself took place on Saturday in 38 degree heat. How the drag queens in their finery and the kinksters in their leather and latex survived is beyond me. I haven’t seen a final estimate of how many took part in the parade, but one press report the following day said 500,000 people attended the event, which I can quite believe. The whole atmosphere was very friendly and laid back and I particularly appreciated the fact that the parade was un-ticketed and open to all. Like Pride parades the world over, there was a visible corporate presence but it was much less obvious than at some other events. Like everyone there, I took a ridiculous number of pictures of the parade, 60 of which I uploaded to Wikimedia Commons as part of the Wiki Loves Pride competition. Huge thanks to all the amazing participants who were so happy to be photographed.  It’s been a joy to see more and more pictures of both Wikipedia for Peace and the Europride Parade being uploaded to Commons over the last fortnight.

[See image gallery at lornamcampbell.org] All images CC BY SA 4.0, LornaMCampbell on Wikimedia Commons

I’ve carried on working on my Wikipedia articles since getting back from Vienna, and am hoping to create a new article on Scottish Aids Monitor as part of Wiki Loves Pride. So much of the queer history of Scotland and the UK is poorly represented on the encyclopaedia, if it appears at all, so I hope I can make a small contribution to improving representation, and work with the Wiki community to address equality and diversity across the movement.

I’m immensely grateful to Wikimedia UK for funding my travel to Wikipedia Loves Peace, to Wikimedia Austria for organising and supporting the event, to all those who participated (it was amazing to meet you all), and last but not least, to Thomas for making it all happen and for looking after us so well during our time in Vienna ♡

Wikipedia for Peace at Europride⤴

from

Next week I’ll be taking a little time out from my work at Edinburgh to go to Wikipedia for Peace at Europride 2019 in Vienna. Europride promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) and other queer issues on an international level through parades, festivals and other cultural activities.  During the event a group of international editors will be coming together to create and edit LBGT+ articles in a range of European languages.  The event, which is run by Wikimedia Austria, is part of the Wikipedia for Peace movement which aims to strengthen peace and social justice through Wikimedia projects. Wikipedia for Peace organises community projects which bring together Wikipedia editors and people active in social and peace movements.

Although I’m not exactly the world’s most prolific Wikipedia editor, one of my proudest editing achievements is creating a page for Mary Susan McIntosh during one of Ewan McAndrew’s early editathons at the University of Edinburgh.  McIntosh was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front in the UK, and a member of the Policy Advisory Committee which advocated for lowering the age of male homosexual consent from 21 to 18.  As an academic criminologist and sociologist, she was one of the first to present evidence that homosexuality was not a psychiatric or clinical pathology but rather influenced by historical and cultural factors, and her paper The Homosexual Role was crucial in shaping the development of social constructionism. 

I had never heard of McIntosh before writing her Wikipedia entry and it was shocking to me that such an important activist and foundational thinker had been omitted from the encyclopedia.  I hope I can use my time in Vienna to create articles for other overlooked individuals from the queer community.   I’m particularly interested in focusing on the creation of articles around bisexual topics and individuals, which are sometimes marginalised in the LGBT+ community.  So if their are any LGBT+, with emphasis on the B, topics or individuals that you think should be added to the encyclopedia, please let me know!  You can also participate in the event remotely by signing up here.

I’m also looking forward to having an opportunity to photograph the European Pride Parade for Wikimedia Commons.  I think this will be my first Pride since 1998!

I’m immensely grateful to Wikimedia Austria for supporting my attendance at this event, and to Wikipedia UK for funding my travel through one of their project grants. Wikimedia UK’s project grants support volunteers to complete activities that benefit the organisation’s strategic goals including creating and raising awareness of open knowledge, building volunteer communities, releasing information and images under an open licence, and technology innovation. You can find out more information about project grants and how to apply here Wikimedia UK Project Grants.

LGBT+ pupil: “I am recovering from depression and anxiety… mainly because of bullying at school.” ⤴

from @ Reach

Getting bullied at school because of your sexual orientation is just SO wrong. It is your right to be educated without fear and your school has a duty to look after you. But the sad truth is that prejudice against being lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans still goes on, and it takes its toll on young people’s mental health.

LGBT rainbow flag The good news is that a group of young people at LGBT Youth have been campaigning for change, as Zee – one of the young campaigners – explained to Reach. Zee has even had the chance to speak about the ‘Mind our Health!’ Campaign on STV. Zee is passionate about making sure more LGBT+ pupils don’t go through the same thing as this young person, who shared with the campaigners that “I am recovering from depression and anxiety… mainly because of bullying at school.” Here’s what Zee told us about the campaign:

“Mental health issues affect young people more than adults, and even more so for those with an LGBT+ identity. LGBT+ young people often find it very difficult to access mental health services because of the stigma they face both for being LGBT+ and having mental health problems. Our research shows that doctors often mistakenly believe that it is young people’s LGBT+ identities that cause mental health issues, when really the root of the problem is the discrimination that they face. LGBT+ young people aren’t always unaware of their rights when accessing support services, and are unsure as to whether the service that they are accessing is treating them fairly.

With our campaign work we want to educate teachers, doctors and politicians on how to make sure mental health support services are LGBT+ inclusive. We also want to make sure that LGBT+ young people feel safe and confident accessing help.”

LGBT Youth banner 'Sometimes need a chat?'

If you’ve got questions about your sexual identity and coming out, or need to talk to someone about relationship issues, bullying or sexual health, you can have a 1-t0-1 online chat in private with a youth worker at LGBT Youth.

There is also lots of good advice on the LGBT Youth website, and there’s a ‘HIDE ME’ button in case you want to quickly move away from the site in case you don’t want other people to know.

 

The post LGBT+ pupil: “I am recovering from depression and anxiety… mainly because of bullying at school.”  appeared first on Reach.

“We are the young people, we are the experts, and we really want to be heard”: Inclusion Ambassadors⤴

from @ Reach

“It feels very low to be left out”. “We need to be treated equally”. “I’d need to trust the people I’m asking for help”. Words of wisdom from a group of young people with diverse support needs campaigning for everyone to be included, no one left out.

The post “We are the young people, we are the experts, and we really want to be heard”: Inclusion Ambassadors appeared first on Reach.

Stonewall Scotland Education Conference 2016⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

This one-day event will bring together teachers, education professionals and communities from across Scotland  to discuss tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and celebrating difference through a series of interactive workshops, keynote speeches and panel discussions.

The annual Education Conference will take place at the Hilton Grosvenor, Edinburgh on Friday 3 June.

Further information and booking details available here.