One of the reasons for why these masks have to be created in the first place, is prejudice against sexual identity. Lesbians, gay men, bi or transgender people have faced discrimination for thousands of years for being true to themselves. This type of prejudice, as it is the same for many forms, is derived from fear, ignorance and a lack of understanding. With these three traits thrown together, you are left with hate. In the UK, we have made vast improvements over the years in ensuring equality for everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, this is still not the case in many countries. In many parts of the world, it is still a crime to be gay and can lead to punishments ranging from a prison sentence to execution. For those people, a mask they shouldn’t have to wear is the only way to stay alive. It is the time of year, as it has been for the past ten years, to observe the history of gay rights and to stand up for those who have been silenced.
This year, the theme is ‘Coded Lives’. It explores the lives of people in the past who have had to hide their sexual identity and use a secret existence to tell the truth about themselves. This underlining expression took many forms and reflects the courage of certain individuals in a closed minded world. From an independent woman of the 17th century to transgender men of the 18th century, these people were not ashamed of who they were, and expressed themselves through diaries, attire, paintings and so on. If you’re looking for some fun ideas to teach this subject in the classroom, then TrueTube may just have the answer for you. A free lesson plan, assembly script and many short films on this topic are available on our website, approaching different themes within the context of this commemorative month ahead. The assembly script suggests creative activities and focuses on the ‘Coded Lives’ theme this year. It emphasizes how people from the past were comfortable in their own skin and still act as an inspiration to this day. They also reflect on how much the world has changed since their time, even though we still have a long way to go. Hopefully we continue in the right direction.