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LGBTQ+ History Month with Ly-Anne Thijs, Lighting Artist

We’re well into February with just over a week left to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month. Last week we saw Gilbert McGirr, Lighting Artist share his responses to questions surrounding LGBTQ+ history, and why it’s important to him. This week we’re sticking with our lighting team, with Ly-Anne Thijs, Lighting Artist and her take on the questions. Take a read of below and discover Ly-Anne’s views on LGBTQ+ representation on screen, a range of wonderful TV/Film recommendations, as well as her advice to young LGBTQ+ artists to not “see yourself as a company’s checklist of diversity”.

In your opinion, what is the importance of LGBTQ+ History Month?

LGBTQ+ History Month for me is a month-long celebration of queer identities. It has evolved to educate the public on the achievements and legacy of history’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer leaders. It not only educates but celebrates how far we’ve come but also brings awareness of the long road ahead to eradicate the still very much present stigma and inequality. Personally, I think it’s important to bring awareness. From an experience in the past, a man close to me asked me why ‘The gays’ need to flaunt the rainbow flag. He claimed that they are going against their own principles as they labelled themselves. This misconception and unawareness of its history and value is one of the many reasons why queer people and allies need to be educated.

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Are there any LGBTQ+ artists/animators or people who inspire you?

There are so many, but relevant to the film industry I am a big fan of writer, director and producer Ryan Murphy. He brings so many queer characters onto the screen. Not only movies or TV-series, but also heartfelt and in-depth documentaries that are about or include the LGBTQ+ community.

Can you recommend a piece of media (film/documentary/TV show) which is an educational, inspiring or informing piece of LGBTQ+ History?

I would recommend the documentary ‘a Secret Love’ (Netflix), it’s about two women who kept their love under wraps for decades. They came out much later in life, which came with its fair challenges. Also, I definitely recommend the TV-Series Pose (Netflix) AFTER watching Paris is Burning (Documentary), It’s about the Black and Latino LGBTQ+ gender-nonconforming drag ball culture in New York. Many people are familiar these days with RuPaul’s drag race, but it wasn’t always as celebrated and welcomed into mainstream with open arms. This series and documentary would be a good start at learning about its past and how far it has come. Or if you’d rather watch cartoons I recommend: She-Ra, Kipo and the Owl House (Netflix and Disney+)

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What industry changes would you like to see in the next 10 years for LGBTQ+ people?

We’ve already come far, and we can safely and proudly acknowledge that. Diversity has gotten better on screen, BUT now it needs some massive fine-tuning. LGBTQ+ characters, are better played by people who live the life. Trans people shouldn’t be limited to trans roles. People of the BAME community shouldn’t be limited to the stereotypical roles. From what I’ve seen, a lot of cartoons are starting to bring in canonically LGBTQ+ characters, which is beautiful. If anything, the younger generation might hopefully grow up to be the most inclusive yet. My wish is to push it even more, and truly make content that reflects the world. LGBTQ+ people exist on and off-screen. It makes me proud to work in the film/animation industry and hopefully one day to contribute to LGBTQ+ history and acceptance.

Do you have any advice for young LGBTQ+ people who are interested in entering the industry?

Don’t see yourselves as a company’s checklist of diversity. You’re more than just that. Don’t be afraid to correct someone when it comes to your gender, sexuality or cultural background. A good company will listen and see what they can do. That way you promote respect in the workplace, and if you feel too shy or are afraid to come out at work - find yourself a person you can trust. I had that fear too when I came into my first job, and I wondered whether it was alright to talk about my personal life and about my girlfriend. Luckily at Jellyfish I felt more than comfortable coming out. Being able to be who you are at work is a major relief and importance for your mental health. Here’s an article that also talks about a few other people of LGBTQ+ community in the digital industry.