From Chesterfield, he is a producer at Gaydio – a station based in Manchester for the LGBTQ+ community, and has been using his influential platform on social media to raise awareness on the dangers of conversion therapy, and the need for inclusivity for transgender people.
Government documents initially said that conversion therapy would not be banned. However, after a few hours and a lot of uproar on social media, they backtracked and the updated documents to say that a ban might be put into place – but not for transgender people.
Because of this, LGBTQ+ organisations have been protesting for transgender rights to also be included in this proposal and as a whole.
Conversion therapy is the attempted practice of changing a person’s sexual orientation with the belief that homosexuality can be ‘cured.’ This is the same for transgender people in the sense that their gender can be ‘converted’ back to their gender at birth. Brazil was the first country to ban conversion therapy in 1999, and since then other countries have followed suit. However, the practice still occurs all over the world as well in the UK.
When speaking to Calum, he was planning on attending an upcoming protest in Manchester (now been and gone – April 16th), organised by an LGBTQ+ group called Manc Trans Rise Up. He said, “I’m going along as a trans ally. I identify as a gay queer man, so I think it’s important for people such as myself to recognise that there are different privileges in life, and I have a privilege as a gay cis man to be included in a conversion therapy ban, whereas transgender people don’t.”
These protests are in an effort to provide an inclusive environment for all those in the LGBTQ+ community. After fighting for so long, people don’t want to stop here when they are so close to achieving a conversion therapy ban or everyone.
It’s not just transgender people protesting either. Calum, who is cis-gender, is showing his support. He said, “I want transgender people to be supported and know that people like me want to support them as well.”
He wants people to recognise that everyone should get involved in making a difference: “We all know of, look up to, and/or love someone who is LGBTQ+, and therefore an LGBTQ+ issue isn’t just an LGBTQ+ issue.
“It’s something that everyone should care about and I want to call up on straight people to stand with us and recognise that, ‘surely pushing for a future of inclusivity will be positive and will benefit everyone?’”
While Calum understands the importance of the protests, he is aware of the possible risks. Protesting often comes with the stigma that they lead to violence with police intervention or conflict with hate groups. Protests such as these are highlighted in the media and can potentially dissuade people from attending. However, Calum believes that this is worth the risk.
“I think with every protest, no matter what it is, there’s always a chance of opposition. I just think this is such an important message that, in my case, the possibility of any opposition doesn’t put me off because I have such a strong opinion about it.”
It should be known that the outcome of protesting can never be predicted, but many are safe to attend, known as ‘peaceful protesting.’ However, there are many other ways to be able to participate in the protests without physically attending, such as through the use of social media – sharing information from other accounts and educating those people around. Joining online LGBTQ+ groups is also a good way to stay connected and up to date on the positive outcomes throughout.
Calum also highlights the need for further school education on LGBTQ+ topics so that students can feel more inclusive; “I was in school in Chesterfield and I think I only had a couple of lessons about anything LGBTQ+, and the rest didn’t relate to me – it related to the experiences of cis people.”
Bullying was a common occurrence whilst Calum was at school, which is another reason why he feels so strongly about transgender rights. He understands what it is like to feel excluded around his peers.
He went on to say, “I didn’t even know who I was but I’d still get put into a box and it became very confusing and I lacked mainstream representation.”
With thorough education that can relate to all children, it could support and help those struggling alone, thinking that they’re different. He wishes that future generations are able to grow up with ease; “LGBTQ+ children are born that way and they need to grow up with great examples, representation, visibility and support.”
A topic underrepresented in education is conversion therapy. Calum tries to educate as many people as he can through his Instagram account, but says that even some of his friends are unaware of the extent of conversion therapy.
He said, “I think it’s so frustrating that conversion therapy is still legal in 2022 and yet not many people know about that.”
Even though this issue is still a major setback for the LGBTQ+ community, he acknowledges that we are living in a progressive future, and that the only way is forward; “I hope schools recognise the need for LGBTQ+ education. It’s greater now than when it was when I was at school, but I want to get across the importance of it.”
There have been many examples of the negative impacts that conversion therapy has on people, which can be harmful to them for years onwards.
Speaking of conversion therapy, Calum says, “It’s so barbaric and archaic... it’s deeply upsetting and confusing for people that go through it - it can result in so much trauma.”
Stonewall is a charity organisation that supports LGBTQ+ rights and has been an incredible help in educating people on the conversion therapy ban, and is a great source of information. It shows the realities on how conversion therapy can affect people. The examples they share are sensitive and should come with a warning for those wanting to learn more. If the stories of conversion therapy survivors are too difficult to read, they have additional useful information on how to get involved. Calum learned much of what he knows through their webpage, and suggests for others to do the same.
As well as this, Calum has a big following on his Instagram page (@cal_mcfab) where he shares information and upcoming protests. He is inviting people to join him in creating a future without conversion therapy for everyone, and wants to be a role model for anyone currently struggling.
At the end of our conversation, he spoke from the heart and said, “I hope, if anyone’s listening and is struggling with their identity, that there’s someone out there that can support you... if you haven’t come out yet there’s always time to grow and be the authentic person that you are.”
For more information on the conversion therapy ban, you can visit the Stonewall website, and follow Calum McFabulous on his journey to an improved world, “Hope is such a big thing that we all need, and we all wish for a bright, inclusive future.”
Other protests will take place in Chesterfield and Sheffield, with more and more being organised locally. Keep an eye out for any taking place near you!
For the full interview with Calum, visit our website.