Unfortunately, homophobia and all LGBTQI+ phobia are still very much a reality for many, even and especially during a global pandemic, and unlike what many might think, equal rights and laws haven’t magically eradicated such incomprehensible behaviour.
The theme for IDAHOBIT 2021 is ‘Together: Relating, Supporting, Healing’. As the day's press release states “The global pandemic is far from over and will have a long-lasting impact on social activism and the fight for equal rights. In the midst of the chaos, heartbreak and ongoing challenges, it is with hope for global awareness of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia that we can continue to provide inspiration.”
Our voices and stories matter and hopefully speaking up will be a catalyst for change, while bringing support and healing for myself as for many others.. Because, ...
Homophobia is... being verbally assaulted while buying a kebab after a night out. And then being thrown glass bottles and pushed on the floor aggressively for sticking up for yourself and your friends whilst asking the perpetrators to stop.
Homophobia is... when a police officer doesn’t take your hate crime report seriously, asks why you didn’t go home straight after leaving the club, tells you that you shouldn’t be tipsy in the first place, asks if you were provocative and flirty towards the perpetrators, blames the harassment on you and your friends, and make very sarcastic remarks about how she has more important policing duties to carry out other than interviewing “drunk gays”.
Homophobia is... when you book a double room in a hotel and have to explain to the receptionist that you do not want two single beds because you are two men. Or when you go on holiday with a couple and have to move their single beds together as the receptionist changed their booking as soon as she noticed it’s for two women.
Homophobia is... inviting a work friend to your birthday house party and she makes an excuse to leave early the second she realises she’s the only straight person in the room. And hasn't talked to you ever since.
Homophobia is... being asked by a random stranger (in a very mocking voice) if the guy you were holding hands with was your boyfriend while walking down your town’s high street.
Homophobia is... being questioned by a door manager if you’re gay for wearing smart clothes, physically pushing you out of the queue and asks you not to return to said popular LGBTQI+ club for “looking straight”.
Homophobia is... when a company’s Assistant CEO makes fun of you in front of other colleagues for suggesting to work towards Stonewall’s Workplace Index and asks in front of everyone “Have you and the gays been discriminated against at work? No? Then don’t gay-up our company culture”.
Homophobia is... being told by a previous best friend that she accepts you as a gay man however she’ll never accept your sinful sex life, that her kids will never be told about your “chosen lifestyle” and that any future partners will be only referred to as a ”friend”. All this while coming out to her.
Homophobia is... witnessing a bouncer high kicking a punter in the face for thinking he was flirting with him. And being reprimanded by the bar manager not to “be a wuss and call the police as he deserved it”.
These are just ten examples out of all the various homophobic encounters I have faced. And while my experience is unique to myself, it’s a vague representation of many people’s day-to-day reality. Because unfortunately, this is still a reality for many.
Homophobia and LGBTQIA+ phobia can take many different forms, and happen everywhere and all the time. Yet it’s still based on hate, misinformation and ignorance. Unlike many around the world, I am lucky and privileged that I can break the silence and openly write an article about this without fear of societal and legal retribution.
No matter where you are, who you are, who you love, how you identify, how you express your true self, we all deserve to be treated with dignity, fairness, respect and love.
Let everyday be an IDAHOBIT day. It’s simple. And it’s starts with all of us! Because as Conchita Wurst famously, and rightly said; “We are unity, and We are unstoppable".
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