Usually when we hear about the generational divide, it’s being highlighted in order to pit us against each other. Recently I’ve been hearing more and more from older people, apologising for causing problems in society, and expressing gratitude that younger generations are going to fix those problems. While I appreciate the sentiment, it’s not entirely accurate, and it's not really fair.

While there's no doubt that since the development of the internet young people have increased access to platforms of their own, and awareness of the political landscape, they are absolutely not the first people to notice inequality, nor the first people to try and redress the balance.

Many people from previous generations not only played no part in creating systems of oppression, they have felt the negative effects of, and spent their entire lives trying to fix and improve, the problems caused by these systems. These people, and this action, deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated.

When it comes to activism, there is often a desire to trailblaze, and an assumption that we have to start at square one. In recognising the tireless effort of the people who have come before us, we have the opportunity to build upon and continue the work of those who have laid the groundwork and written the blueprints for effective activism.

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Negating the progress made by older activists can also transfer responsibility to younger people and demoralise those who have been working for years to ensure future generations won’t have the responsibility to fix things. There is no age limit on activism and it's never too early, or too late, to get started.

It’s not just generational divides that can be bridged through collective activism, there has been historical solidarity between oppressed groups united through a desire for collective liberation- freedom for all.

There is a long and storied past of minoritised communities supporting each other, lending their voice and their resources. Civil rights movements campaigning for racial equality, the feminist groups championing gender based rights, those working towards LGBTQ+ equality, disability rights activists fighting ableist structures, and unions progressing the rights of workers all feel the effects of oppressive systems which often employ the same tactics, and work simultaneously to maintain hierarchies of power.

Viewing single issues of oppression and inequality in isolation does us all a disservice, it is only through approaching an unequal system through an intersectional lens that collective liberation can be achieved.

Intersectionality is a term, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, civil rights advocate and academic, that explores the many systems of discrimination and oppression that can affect us in society. Race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and other factors all intersect to shape the way we experience and participate in society.

Rather than homogenise these groups and their experience, taking intersectionality into account allows us to consider the unique experience each person has in the world, and the way different aspects of identity co-exist, so we can better understand and advocate for our needs, and the needs of those around us.

Police move in at Ravenscraig during the Miners' Strike Police move in at Ravenscraig during the Miners' Strike  (Image: free)

Oppressed and downtrodden groups will always have more in common with each other, than they do with those oppressing them. By demonstrating empathy and solidarity with one another, and lending our voices to causes that might not directly affect us, but that we have the ability to help change, we can improve outcomes for everyone.

During the Miners' Strike in 1984, LGSM (lesbians and Gays support the miners) travelled to Wales to offer help and support, raising thousands of pounds. These actions formed a strong bond of solidarity and in turn, the miners joined in Pride marches and spoke out against section 28, legislation which was said to ban the "promotion of homosexuality”, but which actually served to censor and marginalise LGBTQ+ people.

The links between these groups was portrayed in the film Pride, which was released in 2014 and received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival that year. In 1984, Robert Kincaid wrote in Square Peg, a radical queer magazine, “The miners' strike has been the best thing to happen in years for so many working class people, lesbians and gay men included. There may be a long way to go, but we know that we’ve made friends, built some links and can be sure of their support in our struggle.”

This Pride month, amid the joyful celebrations and the important conversations, I'm thinking of those that didn't get a chance to fully enjoy the fruits of their tireless advocacy. A whole generation of LGBTQ+ elders were impacted by the AIDS crisis, devastating communities and causing countless lives to end prematurely.

There's a unique grief in the way their deaths were ignored, the way their suffering was attributed to them, that their memory was hidden from an entire generation and I feel it is our responsibility and our privilege to mourn and remember their lives and the impact they have left upon the world.

In the midst of such terrifying and unprecedented circumstances, when many medical professionals refused to touch or treat those who had contracted what we now know to be HIV and AIDS, then known as Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID), the shame and stigma added isolation to a situation which was already incredibly difficult.

Seeing the way the gay community was being ignored, failed and stigmatised, lesbians in their hundreds began to volunteer, visit, raise funds, and donate their blood, with many groups becoming known as Blood Sisters.

This community-wide support which was exemplified through “Coming out”, a San Francisco newspaper, who reminded their readers to “stand by our brothers in fighting the Aids epidemic”. Though most were not physically impacted by the disease, they felt so deeply moved by such devastating loss and suffering that they immediately took up arms and offered practical help and emotional support, sorely needed during a critical shortage of both blood, and empathy.

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Modern activists stand on the shoulders of those who came before, and it is through learning from and building up their legacy that the most effective change can be made.

There is still work to be done; if left unchecked, bigotry can flourish and real harm can be done to minoritized communities. All too often, some in the media will attempt to demonise groups and pit us against each other, distracting from the hierarchical systems which keep us all at a disadvantage.

Instead of viewing activism like a fire to be lit in solitude, we should see it as a torch to be carried, passed through generations with similar goals and values. Solidarity is the greatest tool in the fight for collective liberation, and we can achieve so much more together, than we ever could alone.

Whether it's organisational knowledge on collective action developed through decades of unionising, information on effective and safe protesting, mutual aid and community building, there is a wealth of knowledge to be heard from every generation, all we need to do is listen to each other.