Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Wiki and Jordan Rossi
In an address to Parliament on Monday (13 June), Labour MP Luke Pollard declared Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney an inspiration.
Pollard, the first openly gay MP for Plymouth, was speaking at the House of Commons in a debate on the government’s 'conversion therapy' ban, which currently does not include trans people.
"That visibility, that legitimacy, has saved lives.”
The debate was called after more than 145,000 signed a petition to make sure any ban on 'conversion therapy' - a debunked practice - is inclusive of trans people.
The self-described "unapologetic fan of Netflix's Heartstopper,” Pollard, 42, shared that he is “so pleased, with all my heart, that young people in school now not only have LGBT people in the public eye but they can see them on screen as well.”
The Labour politician went on to elaborate that the authentic visibility provided by Alice Oseman's Heartstopper is saving lives.
“For me, it’s Yasmin Finney who plays Elle in the show who is not only epic in her acting, but the class and visibility of her as a trans actor, and her transfer over to the Doctor Who universe, has not only inspired me, it’s inspired young trans people across the world and it has saved lives. That visibility, that legitimacy, has saved lives.”
Pollard also noted that the optimism with which Alice Oseman created the Heartstopper world should act as an inspiration to Parliamentary members in regard to the legislation they are aiming for.
“I would like every single member in this place to know that the messages that go out to young LGBT people that, regardless of who you are, and who you love, you have the right to be loved, you have the right to be safe, and you have the right to be valued, not just by society but in the law, and that is at the heart of what we’re debating today.”
He finishes his speech with a call for action: “Let’s make sure that we say to young LGBT people, to trans and non-binary people, that they are enough, that we will listen to them, and that we value them.”
Heartstopper star Joe Locke, who plays the lead role of Charlie in the show, was also on hand to share his love for Yasmin, tweeting: “You’re changing the world [Yasmin] and I am so proud of you.”
After his speech, Pollard tweeted: “from the messages I have had in the past 12 hours it is clear to me that the show means a huge amount to so many people. I said it has saved lives.”
On Tuesday (14 June), he added that the purpose of his speech was to draw attention to the "vile and cruel" practices of conversion therapy, calling the Government to make a u-turn so that the ending of conversion therapy must be "a fully trans and non-binary inclusive ban".
Young #LGBT people need to know they’re loved, they’re safe and they’re valued. That’s why I want a fully trans and non-binary inclusive ban on vile and cruel converstion practices. Government must u-turn and make the ban trans inclusive 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈 https://t.co/SKrZc8lLFu— Luke Pollard MP (@LukePollard) June 14, 2022
Pollard has previously spoken to Attitude about the abuse he received after posting a picture of himself and his boyfriend for Valentine’s Day.
He said: "Valentine's Day should be about love. If people in the public eye can't be themselves, what hope do the kids growing up around the corner from us here have?"
The Attitude July/August issue is out now.