This month is LGBT+ History Month, and to celebrate, we’re hearing from Salford students on what it means to them. In this blog we speak to final year Film Production student Ash, who will also be appearing on an Instagram Live at 16:00 today, 26 February 2021, over on the @salforduni account. Join us to hear about their experiences.
Ash, 22, identifies as non-binary, and uses they/them pronouns. They explained what the term ‘gender neutral’ means to them.
“To me, ‘gender neutral’ is a term you use when you don’t know what term to use. I associate myself with that term particularly because it was the first non-binary term I ever heard. All I ever knew was male and female and then I went searching for a term that worked for me.
I remember the first time I sneaked to the family computer and searched ‘I don’t think I’m female’, I was so scared because I didn’t know what it was. I actually thought at first that I had a mental health problem, because we’d never even been taught about it in school, but ultimately I realised that I didn’t fit either the male or female role, but it doesn’t really matter.
I listened to ‘ABCs for LGBT+’ by Ash Mardell when I was younger, and they spoke about all the different terms that fit under the umbrella of the LGBT category, and it was amazing because it was my first introduction to this type of education.
I was learning about all these terms you could pick from, and it felt like I could go shopping for an identity that suited me!”Ash Bateson
LEARNING LGBT+ HISTORY…
Ash believes it is essential for LGBT+ people to learn the history from each other, especially after Ash didn’t get much LGBT+ education in school themself.
“It’s about helping people in the community learn about the history, not just straight people. I don’t think I had any LGBT learning at school, it was almost like ‘Oh FYI, gay people exist, let’s move on’ – and that was it.
To learn from people in the community instead of straight people is great. When you learn about the Stonewall riots and everything since, you become so proud to be part of this community because it’s done so much.”Ash Bateson
Ash realised they were gender-neutral when they were 14 and rejected the gender roles prescribed to them.
“When you hit puberty, people always tell you ‘oh, you’re becoming a young woman, and there’s gonna be babies, and hips, and all the boys are going to like you’ but I had never even thought about it.
I think it started when people began telling me I had to live a certain role and I didn’t feel like that.”Ash Bateson
WHAT CAN WE DO…
Ash also offered their thoughts on what straight people could do this month to become more supportive of LGBT+ people.
“I think the best thing you can do is educate yourself, and to understand that if you don’t understand someone’s pronouns, that doesn’t matter because it’s someone else’s personal journey.
I think it’s a case of, if you’re a straight or cis person, and you’re not at the point of understanding or accepting, that’s fine as long as you’re making those steps to try and become more accepting.
If you don’t want to get past that point, then it’s your problem.”Ash Bateson
ASH’S CONTENT CREATION…
Ash recently started a TikTok series called The Cursed Necklace, which boasts an impressive three million views on the site. When they aren’t making content for the series however, Ash can be found making videos about being non-binary.
“For me, it’s great making videos about what I’m going through, and showing that non-binary can be anything. In the same way that men can wear dresses and women can wear suits, non-binary people don’t have to look gender neutral.”Ash Bateson
Ash offered advice to younger students who identify as LGBT+ about navigating life after school.
“Going to groups definitely helps. I had come out as non-binary, and got super confused, so when I was still in London I went to a group, and through meeting other non-binary people, it helped me past that confusion.”Ash Bateson
ASH’S UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE…
They look back fondly, remembering how they’ve felt supported at the university from the get-go.
“Something that made me feel accepted as soon as I arrived was seeing lecturers wearing the rainbow lanyards. Seeing that the first day on campus made me want to cry because I felt like part of the university community immediately.”Ash Bateson
This week marks the end of LGBT+ History Month. If you joined us on instagram live, we hope you enjoyed it and gained something from it. Thank you to Tim, Ben, Lee and Ash for chatting to us about their experiences. It’s been great 👏🏳️🌈