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Student pride profile - Hannah Cragg

To me, Pride is all about activism and celebrating who we are. It's really important, both as a historian but just as a member of the LGBT community as well, that the first Pride was a riot. We owe the rights we enjoy today thanks to trans women of colour. So amongst all the music and the rainbows and the parades, it's important to celebrate where we came from.

8 June 2020

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What are you currently studying at Queen Mary? I'm in my first year of studying history here at Queen Mary, definitely looking forward to my second! I have a particular interest in pre-Columbian America and the Inca Empire.

What have you enjoyed learning about the most throughout your studies so far? I think one of my favourite modules was definitely Global Encounters- it was so interesting learning about culture clashes in all parts of the world. But I also had a lot of fun studying historical films for a different module, Screening History. I've always had an interest in film and this year we had the opportunity to watch the LGBT activism film, Pride. I've watched it before at least once or twice, but it was amazing being able to rewatch it from a critical point of view, and I even ended up writing my final essay of the year on it.

What does Pride mean to you and why do you think it is important to celebrate it? To me, Pride is all about activism and celebrating who we are. It's really important, both as a historian but just as a member of the LGBT community as well, that the first Pride was a riot. We owe the rights we enjoy today thanks to trans women of colour. So amongst all the music and the rainbows and the parades, it's important to celebrate where we came from.

How will you be celebrating Pride this year given the restrictions due to COVID-19? Obviously everything is a bit limited right now! Normally I'd celebrate by watching some LGBT films with my friends, and having a cheeky bit of wine. But I suppose that's still possible through the emergence of social distancing services like Netflix Party. Another way I'm celebrating is by writing articles all relating to LGBTQ+ individuals this month.* Like I said, it's important to celebrate our queer past as well as the present.

What do you think still needs to be done to give greater equality and representation to the LGBTQ+ community? Unfortunately, there's actually a lot of inequality within the community itself! I know a lot of bi people struggle with being told that they're 'not gay enough', or that they're somehow betraying the community by being in relationships with the opposite sex. I don't think we need that kind of mentality, it's really exhausting to see people fighting when we should band together. So we've got to work on all of the inner conflict too. In terms of outer equality and representation? I'd love to see more characters from across the spectrum on TV and on film. More and more directors are taking big strides in recent years, which is great. But when you're growing up and you don't see people like you on tv... it's so disheartening. It makes you feel abnormal as a kid. And queer characters are still part of a certain niche, and most of the time they're only shown in films aimed at LGBT folk, in romances such as Carol. What we really need are more blockbusters being unafraid to show two men kissing, two women kissing. Give me gay superheroes with boyfriends and female lovers in a murder mystery and a trans man in an action flick. It's only through that kind of big-screen representation that people are going to understand our plight.

*Read Hannah's latest article for Queen Mary Students' Union's CUB Magazine.