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13 July 2016updated 09 Sep 2021 11:16am

Homophobic slurs against Angela Eagle in Wallasey? I’ve only experienced the opposite

 Why I struggle to believe allegations made against Angela Eagle’s constituency Labour party, which my mother chairs. 

By Emma Runswick

My name is Emma Runswick. I am a queer woman. My mother Kathy is the Chair of Wallasey constituency Labour party, and a Momentum supporter. An attempt has been made to paint Wallasey CLP and Momentum supporters as homophobic and violent, so I’d like to share some personal stories of my family.

The allegations started when Baroness Tessa Jowell, a Labour peer, said on Daily Politics about the Wallasey CLP AGM: “I spoke to Angela about that meeting, she faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”. Angela Eagle wasn’t at the meeting, and nor was any complaint of homophobia raised in her absence. Since then, accusations have been made, but I struggle to comprehend the abusive language alleged going unchallenged.

When I was a child, my parents would sing “Everything Possible”, a lullaby, to me. One lyric says:

“Some women love women/ some men love men/ some raise children/ some never do// you can dream all the days, never reaching the end/ of everything possible for you”.

It was clear they meant it. My parents had LGBTQ friends. My mum, on her trade union National Executive Committee, was the Pride group link. We wrote letters with Amnesty International asking awful countries not to murder gay people, trade union activists, and human rights lawyers.

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I came out to my family aged 13. My mum was stirring a stew. She’d become concerned that I was seeing a girl a lot, a girl I hadn’t been friends with before, and that this might mean I’d had an argument with my best friend. I said “She isn’t replacing my best friend, she’s my girlfriend.” “Oh, fair enough,” was the reply. It wasn’t a big deal. I never doubted her support.

Throughout the abuse and ignorance from others, my parents were behind me. When my school banned me and my girlfriend from each other’s form rooms in response to a parent complaint, and I couldn’t face the fight, I had to stop them going in all guns blazing in my defence. When I wanted to support a transgender student, they helped me navigate the bullying report system, and held me when I cried in frustration. As trade union reps, my parents explained all the legislation, we talked about the Equality Act and the protection it gave me and other LGBTQ people. 

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The day after my mum was elected to her post, my parents came to my wedding. Just before I married my beautiful wife, when I was shaking from nerves, my mum (pictured above) hugged me and reassured me that she was like this on her wedding day too. That I wouldn’t mess up.

There is zero tolerance of homophobia in Wallasey CLP. My mother would come down on it like a tonne of bricks. My dad, a branch delegate, would do the same. Kathy Miller, the Secretary and proud mother of a gay man, would do the same. Other Wallasey CLP members are LGBTQ themselves and would do the same. I don’t believe anybody in Wallasey CLP, Corbyn supporters or otherwise, would allow homophobic abuse or gesture to go unchallenged in any meeting.