This International Women's Day I would like to explain why I think celebrating women is of central importance to our work.
I believe that feminism is integral to gaining rights and freedoms for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. Our struggle for equality comes from a need to free ourselves from the bindings of patriarchy and heteronormativity. The discrimination we face often comes from a view that we are breaking what society believes we should be. There are societal rules in place about what a woman or a man 'should' be. By being a lesbian, a woman steps outside of these rules and faces oppression and hatred. By re-assigning her gender, a woman changes a body which appears to be that of a man in to a woman which can be seen as feminising a male body and, again, breaking the societal norms. In short, anti-LGBT discrimination and anti-women discrimination often has the same root.
To bring about equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, we need to break down the rules of what a man or woman should be. One way we can do that is by celebrating women in whatever ways they are or choose to express themselves. At the Forum, we have taken our first real steps towards involving more women in our work. We now collect data on the gender of all our new members and last year we were able to see that the women in the Forum are vastly unrepresented. Starting here and moving forward, I will make sure that the Forum works towards involving more women in its work this year.
You can help too. We're looking for more women members - we cannot provide a voice for whole communities when the diversity of our membership is too narrow. Click here to join the Forum. You can also turn up to our meetings and help us change the ways in which local services are run. We know that our committee is not as diverse as we would like, but there is still space for one more member. Perhaps you'd consider joining? If so, email me to express your interest. I'm also interesting in hearing your ideas on how we can involve more women in our activities, so get in touch if you have any suggestions.
The Forum's vision is that of a safe and positive place for LGBT people. We cannot get there without feminism. This International Women's Day I'm reaching our to our mothers, sisters and daughters: by working together we are more powerful.
Chair, Kingston LGBT Forum
International Women's Day, March 2013