Why is activism important?

I have gone on a personal journey as an activist in the past few years. Calling myself an activist still doesn’t feel right- I’m not out on the streets protesting, or a member of a political movement. But those are the images I only ever saw of activists and are the people who I saw as the changemakers. 

I only saw my “activism” as shouting at the radio when I heard people put forward arguments I did not agree with, or boycotting companies like Amazon and Starbucks for not paying corporation tax. Neither of which I feel makes a difference… But I am an activist in many other ways, that I haven’t previously recognised or experienced.

My activism comes from the desire to increase opportunities for and visibility of under-represented groups; to give them a seat at the table. I can offer my own perspectives and experience to conversations but cannot speak for other people’s experiences. I am not disabled, I am not a person of colour, I am not transgender. However I can look to ensure their voices come through in any work I do. 

Our Football v Transphobia Trans Week of Action was very enjoyable to work on and I’m proud of the resources we produced and can use in future work. We wanted to amplify the voices of trans people in football and are determined to develop the Week of Action for the future in consultation with trans people. Activism is successful when carried out in full engagement with the communities it involves. That will also involve learning from mistakes that get made along the way, perhaps the most important part of activism.

As LGBTQ+ people, we live in a society with an increasingly more vocal minority who are lobbying against trans rights. It is absolutely key that activism continues to highlight the experiences of and prejudices the trans community faces. Especially those who are further marginalised within the trans community. As the critics get louder, we must continue to increase our activity and most importantly, ensure it is led by the trans community themselves. We cannot speak for them and their experiences, but instead allow them the space to share whilst we must listen. 

I’ve been fortunate to have been part of several projects in my previous roles which have highlighted the importance and value of youth activism.The youth voice is often forgotten in many organisations and is not usually seen around the table during decision making.  I have been inspired by the ideas many young people have come up with and have spent many years working on projects to ensure their voices are represented and valued. Activism can be extremely tiring! Creating a space for young people to develop themselves as leaders and collaborating on projects, has given me energy and drive. The value of young people’s voices and actions cannot be underestimated.

It has taken me some time to be an activist for my own community. As an asexual person I have very rarely seen any visibility or attention given to our small community. In the past I have put pressure on myself to be visible about my sexuality, however it’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable in myself, let alone share that with others. 

I’m now at a stage where I can be open with my asexual identity and raise awareness of it. I do not see it as the most important part of my identity, but recognise that our community still receives a lot of erasure and ignorance. So being asexual occupies a more prominent space for me in my activism.I’ll continue to shout at the radio, but will also continue to amplify voices different to my own through my work. Activism remains important due to the increasing prejudice and hate many minority groups face. And activism absolutely remains important due to lack of visibility of many communities.

Beatrice Thirkettle