This week I was scheduled to conduct a Lecture for all the EFL students. I decided to give a lecture on LGBTQ+ History. It seemed like a great idea as I was planning it, but when the day came to give my first of 4 lectures I started to have doubts.
Would this be an appropriate lecture topic? Would the students have negative reactions or act out? Maybe students would complain or walk out? And honestly, was I even the best person to be giving the lecture? For over 2 weeks I had been planning and preparing this lecture; what if it all went wrong and I had made a big mistake?
When I started preparing the lecture weeks beforehand, I sat down and tried to think about how to present, in 80 minutes, an adequate history of LGBTQ+ history. I decided to break the presentation down to 6 main points. I started with Stonewall because while there have been people attracted to member of the same sex throughout history, it really wasn’t until stonewall that those people began to identify as one community and to stand up for their rights and push back against decades and even centuries of violence and persecution. From Stonewall I moved to the HIV/AIDS crisis that shook the gay community to its core and changed it forever. I felt it was important to highlight how damaging the AIDS virus was to the gay community not only mortally but also socially. From there I moved to discuss straight allies and advocates who stepped up during the 80’s and 90’s to stand up for the gay community and to be a voice for those that most of the World didn’t want to listen to. From highlighting some of the many straight allies the gay community has had over the years I moved to a section I titled simply “legitimacy”. Here I highlighted the long journey that the World has taken to fully recognize the indelible human rights that all queer people should have. I covered as briefly as I could the steps of progress that mainly the UK and the US have taken over the last 40 years towards LGBTQ equality. It’s a road that is still being travelled and suffers from more steps backward than there should be, but we’re moving forward nonetheless. From there I discussed LGBTQ visibility and highlighted the many famous people and celebrities who have come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer over the past 30 years. Through the strength and courage of these people the World can see that we are all people; the gay community is not a “them” or “those people” but instead, “us”. And it’s because of the courage of those celebrities that many children and young people around the World won’t have to go to bed as I once did thinking that they are alone and there is something wrong with them. Finally, I brought it all down to what we all want: Equality; not to be treated different because of our race, color of our skin, gender, religion or sexual orientation. I explained that it’s a long road but it’s a goal that will only be achieved if each of them do what they can to ensure that the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people in their lives feel safe, loved and accepted to be who they are.
A week before I was due to give the lecture I had found an amazing activity on the LGBT Resource Center page of the University of Southern California’s website called “Coming Out Stars”. As soon as I read the activity I knew that’s how I wanted to open my lecture. But when the time came, I started to think that for the straight students attending my lecture, they might think it’s stupid or pointless and for any LGBT students in my lecture, it might be triggering. Something told me it was the right thing to do and I just needed to take a leap of faith and trust that it would be alright.
It was amazing.
By the time I had finished my forth and final lecture I had presented LGBT+ History with around 400 students from all over the World. Throughout the week students came up to me in the halls and after my lessons to thank me for the lecture and they really enjoyed hearing about it. Instead of opening up the room for questions after my lecture I decided to give each student a notecard on which they could write down a question and hand it to me after the lecture. I received notes of questions and encouragement after each talk. Perhaps my favorite is one card that has no name, no information but only the words “Thank You”.
It was an amazing experience and I wanted to share it with all of you. If you would like an outline of my talk or would like to view my powerpoint presentation, you can contact me here: