I read my ‘Forced Out’ article which was published by Outnorthwest Magazine towards the end of last year, and it made me realise (again) just how much The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) has been behind me (no pun intended) since I became unwell.
Its support of me has never wavered and not just with regards to my sexuality, but race and mental health too. It truly has been The Peoples’ Foundation.
I remember when I first became unwell because of racism and homophobia in the workplace, I was angry because (1) this had happened to me and (2) I allowed it. Many of those organisations that ‘publicly’ portray to want to help people like me and others, I contacted and highlighted their failings.
I also contacted ‘other’ individuals and organisations one being Paul Martin, Chief Executive of The LGF – a true leader in every sense of the word.
Having received my email in which I wrote about The LGF being able to do more to reach out to black and minority ethnic members of the Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual community, he didn’t just fob me off or pass it further down the line for someone else to deal with – he took personal responsibility.
Paul contacted me, and told me about what The LGF was doing for visible ethnic lesbian, gay and bisexual people and how it was striving to improve its services among other things.
I thought to myself, Paul’s reply was one of the most honest I had received from the leader of an organisation and clearly this has had a big impact on me. It was from this, that The LGF and I began a relationship that continues to flourish today.
In July 2010, when I found out that The Sun newspaper had illegally obtained my private data and was threatening to publish this along with lies about me because I challenged discrimination within the police – it was The LGF I went to for help and it backed me 100% – and I mean, one hundred percent.
I decided to ‘out’ myself publicly in the organisation’s magazine ‘Outnorthwest‘ with my sexuality and mental health condition, taking away the power and hold The Sun thought it had over me. I don’t like bullies, and don’t take kindly to being blackmailed.
I sent my article Being LGB (Liverpudlian, Gay & Black) to Andrew Gilliver, The LGF’s Communication Manager (who happens to be one of the sweetest and most caring guys I know) and off he went to prepare my ‘outing’ article.
The next thing I know, the magazine Editor Grahame Robertson wants to make me the featured article and centre-spread (again, no pun intended) in its 100th edition. I felt honoured and humbled, because something good was coming from something bad and not once did The LGF question my honesty and integrity.
Not thinking it had done enough for me, the editorial team decided to put my mugshot on the front cover of the special edition. My Mum would have been proud, because I was standing up for myself. I’m sure, she would have given The Sun a run for its money!
Anyway, The LGF continued to support those social justice and equality causes that are important to me and in a further article for the foundation I wrote about marriage inequality for same-sex couples, in the spring of 2011.
And then as mentioned, the organisation followed up with the Forced Out piece in Outnorthwest one year after the Being LGB article. The charity truly has been there for me, and I have no doubt for others too in their time of need. I’m now giving back.
For me personally, it’s important that when a person or an organisation does something good we let them know. It’s so easy to complain about things, but how many times do we compliment?
I will be indebted to the charity for a lifetime because it ‘truly’ is trying to end discrimination (of all forms) and empower people.
On 4th February, The LGF is holding a Being Me Event at its Manchester office for black and minority ethnic LGB people. I’m supporting this, and having been invited by the event organiser Darren Knight (Engagement Manager) will be attending and speaking.
It’s good to remember that although The LGF is Manchester and Northwest England based, is the UK’s biggest organisation offering direct services and resources for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. As you can tell, I can’t speak anymore highly of it.
I’m currently writing my first memoir ‘Broken…’, about how discrimination caused my breakdown, my 2-year fight for justice & battle with depression to help raise awareness & remove stigma.
This has been a… Speak Up Speak Out, ‘View from the Bottom’.
Take care, Max x.
Live Healthy, Laugh Often & Love Yourself!
Published by My Mum. Copyright © Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2012.