Why I Vote (and Why You Should, Too)

Strong Language Disclaimer

I was born in 1981, when LGBTQ+ rights extended as far as allowing queer people to exist without
being arrested. Sex between consenting men over 21 had been decriminalised in England & Wales in
1967, Scotland in 1980, and Northern Ireland in 1982, although the lowering of the age of consent to
match that of heterosexual people didn’t happen until 2000. (Interestingly, there has never been a
law banning lesbian sex because, in a country which appears to have been historically obsessed with
outlawing ‘buggery’, the lack of penile penetration disqualified it from being classified as sex!)
In 1988 Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government implemented the Local Government Act
(section 28), which stated that local authorities “shall not promote the teaching in any maintained
school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. It wasn’t until my
late teens that I became aware of section 28. At this point I had moved away to university with my
girlfriend (I do not recommend this!) and I was about to vote for the first time. Labour, the Green
Party and the Liberal Democrats were all opposed to section 28, and this is where my lifelong hatred
of the Tories probably began to fully form.

I remember my first London Pride, or Mardi Gras as it was then, having a huge influence on my
political awakening. Standing among the crowds of people like me, watching politicians joining pop
stars to celebrate us, I started to believe that my vote mattered. I still believe that, even in times of
despair. Even when the Tories inexplicably stay in power for fourteen years. Even when a lettuce
outlasts a Prime Minister.

In 2003 section 28 was finally repealed, eighteen years after its inception. My two children are
taught about personal relationships at school and their PSHE has always included LGBT families.
Politicians made it impossible for me to learn about my own community, but politicians have also
made it possible for my sons to be exposed to the true diversity of humankind. The system is not
perfect – recent ‘guidance’ to schools about informing parents if their children are trans or gender-
questioning clearly demonstrates that there is a long way to go – but it’s a system that many people
across the world don’t even have access to.

In sixth form my girlfriend wanted to join the RAF but at this time it wasn’t possible for her to do so
without denying her identity as a lesbian. She refused to accept that condition and, even when the
Government lifted the ban in 2000, she couldn’t see herself as part of an institution which had been
formed with homophobia running through its core. The level of queerphobia that has been built into
every system within our society can make it hard to believe that we belong, but that first Mardi Gras,
where I cried alongside men in dresses (and assless leather chaps!) and women in dungarees, gave
me a feeling I’ve never let go of. It’s a joyful feeling, a fizzing in the chest, and above else it’s an
overwhelmingly empowering feeling of hope.

There have been many wins over the years, including the right to adopt, to get married, to have your
gender recognised and your birth certificate changed, but it can be hard to remember them when
our community is constantly under attack from the elected officials who should be protecting us.
The current Government’s anti-trans rhetoric has played no small part in the widespread
demonisation of our trans brothers and, more often, sisters, and their refusal to accept the mere
existence of our non-binary siblings puts us behind several other countries, with no stated plans to
change their position.
This year we will have a General Election, and although it may seem like your voice doesn’t matter –
particularly for people who, like me, live in a ‘safe seat’ constituency – having your voice taken away

is not a position we should accept. We have been marginalised and othered for centuries. We have
been criminalised and executed for existing. We have been silenced.
I ask you not to be silent when the General Election finally happens. Whether you vote for the party
you believe in, follow the tactical suggestion for your constituency or spoil your ballot, you must
show up. If you stay at home, you are tolerating the ruling elite; some might even say you are
complicit. But if you draw a phallus on your ballot, write a crude message, or simply cross all the
boxes, your vote still gets counted and your distaste for the entire system is acknowledged. The
alternative is to be classified as someone who doesn’t care or who is happy to maintain the status

I’m going to keep that feeling in my chest from my very first Pride. I’m going to continue to believe
that I can make a difference. For all the queers who were never allowed to use theirs, I will use my

We are here, we are queer, and we will not be ignored. Fuck the Tories.


By Suze DA