February marks LGBT History Month, which was created as a means to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice and discrimination against the LGBT community while celebrating equality, with the hopes to make LGBTQ+ people more visible and accepted.
It’s an opportunity to look back, reflect, and respect those people in the community that suffered hardship over the years, hiding who they are and who they love, because being found out could cost them their job, their family, and most importantly their safety… risking it all to ultimately get us where we are today, able to love freely.
So it’s 2019, how far have we come? Personally I think there are two different views to how the LGBTQ+ community are perceived currently:
The first view is how the majority of society see us, most of whom being ‘heterosexuals’ and that’s great, everything is great. We can get married, buy a home together, have families, more countries all over the world are legalizing same sex marriage and equality.
Every year a few more celebrities come out, and there are more LGBT films and TV characters than ever. People can be out in work, more kids are learning about it in school, and lets not forget the pride celebrations across the world that are bigger and gayer than ever. We have equality, most people are open minded and everyone knows someone who’s gay nowadays.
Now much of that may be true, unfortunately things aren’t simply that black and white.
What I see, and I know many LGBTQ+ people that share a similar opinion, is yes we can get married, have a home and family, but I personally received homophobia when announcing our engagement, kids don’t want to tell people they have two mummies, or two daddies as they’ll be bullied and the school won’t do anything about it. Yes more countries have legalized equal married but in 2018 Bermuda revoked equal marriage, having only granted it legal a few years prior.
I’m sure you’ll agree most of the LGBTQ+ films over the years have been terrible, simply because it had a low budget but we are starting to see a positive change with brilliant blockbuster films such as Carol, The Danish Girl, Moonlight and Love Simon. But TV shows still seem to insist on killing off the gay character, particularly the lesbians.
I know people who can’t come out at work, due to their position, as it would be highly likely they’d lose their job due to the way people would react. Which is just awful.
Pride events are widely celebrated, but just last year numerous people were arrested due to homophobic abuse at pride events, including Brighton.
The reality is, yes we have equality… marriage equality. when I met my now fiancee, we weren’t legally able to marry and we saw the difference getting that vote made, yes the balance has tipped and finally there seems to be more people who are accepting of LGBTQ+ people, but there are still a huge percentage of people that hate us and get pleasure in verbally, emotionally and physically abusing the community.
In 2017 Stonewall reported 1 in 5 LGBT people and 2 in 5 Trans people have experience a hate crime of incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, 1 in 10 LGBT people who were looking for a house or flat were discriminated again because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. And 3 in 10 LGBT people avoid certain streets and more than a third of LGBT people avoid holding hands in public due to fears for their safety.
In 2018 a news report went out stating ‘Rise in LGBTQ+ hate crimes should be a wake up call for UK’ after hate crimes had risen by 28%. The police recorded 13,300 hate crimes from March 2017 to March 2018, with 4 in 5 LGBT people not reporting a hate crime to the police, the figure is would in actual face be incredibly higher.
LGBTQ+ community network Unite UK posted on their Instagram stories last week, asking whether people had received any homophobic or transphobic comments in 2019… The response they had was shocking, there were so many young LGBTQ+ people sharing the hateful comments they’ve received this year, from family members, work collauges and just random strangers on the street.
I hope those comments on Unite UK’s page were eye opening, and that people realised that there is quite clearly still an issue here of hate, discrimination and people who are just trying to live their lives honestly, loving freely face never ending prejudice.
The fact is we still have a long way to go.