Header credit: Stonewall 45/Huffington Post
PEOPLE all around the world are still fighting for equal rights. The struggle to be understood by others is sometimes too much to handle when you are all alone. Many people live their lives day-by-day, without ever facing discrimination themselves. We try our hardest to avoid it because it can be scary. But ever so often when a tragedy hits — like the Orlando shooting in 2015 — a whole community comes together in fear. Moments should remind us all that we have to stay together and vigilant because the battle isn’t over. As the devastating news may unite us, it also emphasizes to everyone else — those who are outside of that community, Queers (for example) — are still being marginalized and that they still have a long way to go before they are considered a regular part of society.
Sexuality is a very personal topic. I get that. Most people would rather not share their personal lives with other people, especially on the internet. Why should anyone have to explain to anyone else — what turns them on sexually? This is what Queers have to do every day. If you’re a heterosexual, if you’re considered “normal” — then this doesn’t really happen to you because you’ve never had to admit to everyone else that you are different. Hundreds of gay men are now being kidnapped and sent to alleged-concentration camps in Chechnya, Russia. What’s been going on in Russia for the last few years has been disgusting. The outrage that’s coming from the international community is starting to ring the same tune: How long will it be until our voices are muted out again?
The actions in Chechnya fit into a disturbing global pattern of governments explicitly driving anti-gay violence, or tacitly allowing vigilantes to attack LGBT people with impunity.
The summer before I graduated high school, I went to my first Pride celebration ever. It was in Edmonton, Canada and I was 16 years old. At the time, I was still trying to accept my own confusing sexuality. I was still in the closet with the public and most of my family but I always knew that I was gay — I just tried to ignore it and make it go away. I can still remember the deep rumble of electric music that was coming from the distance. I was so nervous. When I finally saw the parade coming around the corner, I was instantly blown away by how outspoken and proud they all were. Dressed up in rainbows; holding up signs; dancing and cheering! It looked like a fantastic dream to an adolescent closet case like me.
I never saw such disregard for normality before. I stood in utter jealousy and amazement. Shortly after the shock wore off, I felt myself being disgusted and confused when I looked around at all the people who were with me on the sidewalk watching the “show” unfold… Crowds of people were snapping photos, wooting and yelling at each other things like…”Whoa! Look! Honey, LOOK! Look at that!” At the time, I imagined the people in the parade were just a bunch of circus performers and everyone else was just there to gawk at the annual spectacle. It was disturbing to me, that Queers even had to celebrate Pride in the first place. I didn’t know what I was thinking because I didn’t know anything yet. As Queers, we have to be noticed. We have to come out and admit what we are. We must come to terms with our sexuality or we are just cast out of society even further. We had to conform during our younger years in order to stay safe from bullies and then when we got older, we had to learn to adjust how we act depending on the different situations. This is called code switching, and everybody does it, but Queers are the masters of it. There are constant psychological pressures on the LGBT community to conform and to be outspoken. This tug of war is taking its toll. It’s further pushing us into seclusion.
Bisexuals, Transgenders and Lesbians (and all the groups that I missed,) do not identify themselves as “gay” — so why do they go to a gay pride parade? Why is there so much misogyny in the world? The title of “gay” being used to describe a very diverse group of people, is perfect evidence of how hyper-masculine we are. Simply stereotyping all Queers — or non-straight people — as “gay” is not helping anybody. Our pride is supposed to be about helping people identify themselves. Not to conform and simplify them into a greater niche.
A generation before mine, I wouldn’t have been able to think or talk about any of this because homosexuality was still considered to be an illegal act and a mental disorder. Anybody who had questionable sexuality was automatically sent to a specialized clinic to literally shock the fag right out of them, or so they thought. In the late 1960’s many minority groups were demanding equal rights and political recognition. Queers were not an exception. The police had raided a gay club called Stonewall in New York City and the patrons of that club started to revolt against the police. The public watched as Queers were lined up on the streets, being thrown into the paddy-wagons and then being hauled off to jail. The Stonewall riots were a result of decades of oppression. Thousands filled the streets of Manhattan with their picket signs and their loud voices — and unknowingly, they kicked off the first pride parade ever.
Stonewall was the Queer Revolution and the beginning of the LGBT Movement. It’s important for young people to realize that. I’m proud that I was born how I was but I regret the narcissistic attitudes I had towards my own community when I was at my first parade. I didn’t understand what was happening around me because I didn’t even understand what was happening inside of me.
When I’m in public and I see straight couples holding on to each other or showing affection in some way — it makes me want to cry. It’s not selfishness, it’s just sadness because not everyone can do that. Only straight people can show affection in public and that makes me uncomfortably emotional. It’s just not fair. I wish I could do that and not cause disturbing attention to myself. Everyone knows that this is happening and the majority of people accept it as “how it is.” The issue is the social acceptance of arrogance. I think the only way to overcome this is to deliberately expose the reality — which we all have to come to accept one time or another: Not everybody is straight and not everybody is strictly a boy or a girl. A solution to this social problem could be to abolish any form of separatism. One example of separatism is the “gay” pride parade itself: the parade distinctly separates the Queers from the “normals” and the “gays” from the rest of the Queers. Separating from each other and defining ourselves by our differences is the worst possible action we could take towards equality.
All humans must categorize themselves as reproductive beings because we are alive and we have to mate (somehow) in order to reproduce. This fact is obvious if we intend as a species to survive. Therefore, it is totally “normal” for a human being to be straight but what about the people who are in The Land of Infinite Letters? This is the place where everybody else is. A very dense cloud full of different characters. Each individual letter attempting to distinguish a certain unique community inside of the greater conglomerate of the large Queer community. It’s proved very difficult to satisfy all of the different groups at the same time: GLBT, LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQI… Then there are the lesser known community letters of C, P, T, P, H, O and U. You probably have not of even heard of them unless you’re part of that particular community, but they’re there too, desperately seeking respect. Many noted attempts have been made to unify these communities with a secret combination in order to draw everyone together as a single alliance. Abbreviations like LGBTTQQIAAP, QUILTBAG, LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM, FABGLITTER… Surprisingly, none of them have stuck like “LGBT” has. These symbolic letters that represent real-life identities are competing with each other for recognition in the “normal” world.
One last example: In Uganda, there are Christians preaching that homosexuality is a related to pedophilia and this, among other things, has become a direct attack on the stability of the peace that is in the African country. The Anti-Gay bill was passed in 2015 and it’s been dubbed the “Kill The Gays Act.” Reportedly the law was promoted and funded by far-right conservative Christian groups from the United States. The already illegal act of homosexuality has now been intensified so much more. Uganda has become a very scary place to be, and not just for Queers. The American preachers that came to Uganda had fled their own country because they couldn’t get away with their hate speeches at home. They went and lied to the religious believers there and now the whole nation is in fear. A lot has changed for the queers in the West, sure. But the fight for equality around the world, and maybe even in your community too, is not over. Anyone that is not “normal” would tell you that right away.