The boys in the backroom

Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, Director, BLUF Ltd, 27 June 2020



Thirty years ago, on the 27th June 1990, I sent the Welcome message to uk-motss, which was (probably) the UK's first internet email list specifically for LGBT people. It was also the first online community I created, and perhaps the one of which I'm still most proud - there are people who came out there, who met their partners through it, who are married because of it.

But this post isn't really about me. This post is about the other people. People who are an essential part of the LGBT community, but who don't often get thought about when we praise our heroes, and celebrate our leaders.

It's easy to remember the people who take the stage, whether with rousing speeches or a stunning drag performance. It's easy to remember those who took a stand, turning themselves in to a police station to show the absurdity of the law, or taking the country to court to prove that the law was wrong, and discriminatory. It's easy to remember those who run our groups, who put a public face on the chorus, the sports team, or the leather club.

But a community isn't just leaders. A community is the people on the door, checking our bags, or selling us tickets. It's the people building the websites, or designing a T shirt. The people sewing frocks and flags. The people making placards for a march that they're too nervous to attend themselves. The people answering the phones at Switchboard, and helping people to overcome those nerves. The person recommending a book to a shy customer they can tell has never been to a gay bookstore before.

Behind the scenes - behind the scene - are thousands upon thousands of people doing, making, and helping to hold together this amazing community.

So this year, as I celebrate thirty years of being some sort of an activist, I'd invite you all to say thank you, and raise a glass, to remember the boys - and girls - in the backroom.

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