'In all of our richness and variety'
Sometimes we see images that are hard to forget. The news has been full of them lately.
I have been particularly haunted by images of violence against lesbian women.
Two women on a bus in London, attacked because they refused to kiss in front of a group of young men.
The face of Anne Lister in the BBC series Gentleman Jack, attacked as a warning because she is the lover of Ann Walker.
Earlier in the episode, Anne made a passionate defence of her own sexuality and identity, some of the words of which came from the diaries of the real Anne Lister (1791-1840), sometimes known as the first modern lesbian.
She said, 'I love and only love the fairer sex. My heart revolts from any other love from this. These feelings haven't wavered or deviated since childhood. I was born like this and I act as my God-given nature dictates. If I were to lie with a man, surely that would be unnatural, surely that would be against God, who made us, every one of us, in all of our richness and variety.'
I am sure, if we look at ourselves and look around us we will see many examples of the richness and diversity of the human race.
I have decided to take that statement as my hope and as my clarion call, I will rally behind it and I will let it be heard. 'In all of our richness and variety'.
What can we do?
In a world that can feel very difficult and dangerous, what can we do to affirm our richness and diversity, and to do it in a way that feels safe?
Maybe the first thing is to carry on behaving as we always do, if it is safe to do so, not hiding whatever makes us different, not hiding who we are.
And if that is too hard or too dangerous, then we can try to speak out in ways that are safe. Use social media, use conversations, be who we are at work, where we live, in our families and friendship groups.
And if that is not safe, then we can stand together, at events such as Pride and Fertility Fest, in organisations that celebrate and offer support such as Gateway Women and Stonewall and in organisations that campaign against violence and support those affected such as Victim Support.
And in our hearts, be as we are, whatever our difference, and come out into the world a little at a time, because small steps are OK too. We can self-affirm that we, and others, are perfect as we are, and, in a broken world, love is never unnatural, love is to be celebrated and cared for.
Getting help and support