“I am what I am / And what I am needs no excuses.” – Gloria Gaynor, I Am What I Am (1984)
On June 28, 1969, police at the Stonewall Inn in New York led to a series of riots that would spark the fight for LGBTIQ+ rights. A year later, the first gay pride marches emerged, building the foundation for gay communities and activist groups throughout the states. Today, pride marches take place all around the world at the end of June, which is known as ‘Pride Month’, in commemoration of the Stonewall riots.
Studies, however, show that members of the LGBTIQ+ community still face discrimination on a regular basis. The report “The Istanbul Convention, Gender Politics and Beyond: Poland and Turkey”, published in June 2021, states that violent attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people did increase in those countries. Recently, Hungary passed anti-minority reforms and a law banning LGBTIQ+ content from the school curriculum, advertising and TV for children. The UEFA’s refusal to light Munich’s stadium in rainbow colours, as a visible sign of solidarity with Hungary’s LGBTIQ+ community during the Euro Germany-Hungary match, lead to a shit storm on social media and a protest wave demanding for inclusion and diversity.
Still, LGBTIQ+ representation in the german curricula and literature for the EFL classroom remains sparse, leaving a lot of room for improvement. Finding characters students can identify within literature can make a huge difference in their motivation to read and facilitating discussions about relatable topics. A paradigm shift can fuel the understanding and appreciation of our students for a diverse and colourful society. Here are some of our new additions to our platform that aim to increase the representation of LGBTIQ+ characters in the EFL classroom:
- Asexual Love Poem: In this spoken word poem, the speaker conveys experiences of her sexuality being dismissed; wrapped up in the metaphor of “don’t worry the poem will get good“.
- I Wish You All the Best: Ben has finally gathered the courage to come out to their parents as nonbinary. But what should be the people who love them most in the world, refuse to accept Ben’s identity. This coming of age novel addresses themes like gender identity, anxiety and love, fueling open discourse in the classroom about mental health and interpersonal relationships.
- The Laramie Project: This alarming play about homophobia, discrimination and hate crime is based on the brutal murder of the gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard on October 6, 1998. The Laramie Project investigates the case and its aftermath capturing the voices, thoughts and feelings of more than 60 people of the town Laramie, Wyoming in short scenes.
- Julian Is a Mermaid: If you are looking for a story to teach diversity and gender-nonconformity in the elementary classroom, this text might be an option. The heart-warming picture book follows Julian, who is about to explore his passion for colourful dress. Will his grandmother ‘Nana’ reject his new identity, or will she show love and appreciation?
For more literature and media in this context check out our new topic cluster ‘trans rights‘. Also, we are looking forward to your suggestions in this field that you can share with the editors via email or the ‘Suggest and entry’ form.
Happy Pride Month, Everyone!
Sarah and Simon