We didn't talk about it
My family has always liked a good chat and the lives and loves of family members were always discussed in great detail.
But there were things we didn’t talk about. A relative lived with a woman for many years. Everyone knew and if there had been any objections to the relationship, these were no longer mentioned by the time I came along. In fact nothing about the relationship was mentioned at all. As far as us children were concerned it was just two spinster aunts sharing a flat together.
‘What’s wrong with that?’ you might be thinking. People have a right to their privacy, but they shouldn’t have to hide or pretend. They shouldn’t have to worry what will happen to them if one of them gets ill, like my aunt eventually did, or if they will even be allowed to stand at a graveside to grieve.
When people are gone, so often their stories die with them. There were no marriage records, nothing to tie their threads together in history as anything other than flatmates. But there’s me, and my memories. After finding out about LGBT History Month I started asking questions that I’d never dared ask before.
I got to know and understand my aunts in a way I had never done before. I also discovered a tangible mark of their relationship. When my great aunt died, one of her sisters insisted the ‘special friendship’ be recorded on her gravestone. Much to the horror of the rest of the family.
That’s why I think LGBT History is something for everyone to cherish. Otherwise the experiences, struggles and achievements of everyday people are lost and it’s an excuse to continue to marginalise and ignore members of our society, even members of our own families.