Recently across this website , as well as my Instagram account, I have found myself deleting an increasing number of comments that compromise the safe-space that I want to promote within any online community that I am a part of. These comments range from being misogynistic, harmful towards LGBTQ+ members, racist and more. I delete these comments because arguing with people on the internet is not only just as negative an action but also falls on deaf ears. I do, however, believe in educating people on why their comments are harmful and I plan to do so with more than just the LGBTQ+ issue, but that’s what I’m focussing on today. Paired with what seems to be a growing call for ‘straight pride’ I guess now is as good a time as any to educate ourselves and each other on why pride is what it is… and for me to throw in my two cents worth. Will this actually get through to a homophobic person? Unlikely. I do hope, however, that if seeing these negative comments has affected you, your confidence, invalidated you or anything else that it’s a reminder that everyone deserves a place in this world. Everyone deserves to live as they please in a way that is not harmful to others, live your truth.
On comments about the LGBTQ+ community shoving their relationships down people’s throats, questioning why a same-sex couple are open about their lives and it being harmful to children to be exposed to the LGBTQ+ community
This is a result of a range of different issues. The main thing that I hope you will take away from reading this today is that seeing a same sex couple kiss on the street/on TV/in a movie is no different to seeing a straight couple do the same thing. If the couple are not having sex in front of you then it is not a sexually perverted act or fetishized act. Why is this something that people struggle to understand or accept? From a personal point of view, in some cases, I do believe it’s directly linked to the lack of representation that LGBTQ+ members have over-all. This can be proven just in looking at the lack of representation that female same-sex couples have in mainstream sources excluding porn. As for it being harmful to children? Unless you’re talking about porn then you’re wrong. Any kind of porn will be harmful to children. Seeing two people respect and care for each other being harmful? Impossible. What is harmful is growing up as an LGBTQ+ child and having no real understanding or education of who you are or having only negative education. These children grow up in a heteronormative world and continue to identify as LGBTQ+. Claiming that inclusivity will ‘confuse’ children or ‘turn them gay’ is not just ignorant but plain and simple fear-mongering. Not to mention, every single teenager at some point or another is confused about life. That’s a fact. What if your child is gay? Will you love them less or would you be upset to know that something you said or did might have negatively impacted their experiences or opinion of themselves? If you answered the former, that says more about you than it does about the LGBTQ+ community. Members of the community are struggling every single day with internalised homophobia, transphobia etc relating specifically to themselves because of the environment they grew up in. We can be the generation that changes this.
On comments stating that society is demanding that everyone praise the gays for no reason, that pride month exists for no reason and why don’t we have a straight pride month
This is something that I choose to believe is a result of a lack of understanding and education. Not once have I ever heard a member of the LGBTQ+ community demand praise. I’ve seen people be congratulated for their bravery in coming out, for being open about their sexuality or gender identity or be praise for something that has literally nothing to do with their sexual or gender identity. Stating that “the gays demand to be praised for nothing” is such an open and ignorant comment that really doesn’t deserve a lot of time, period. What does deserve time though, is the matter of pride month and why straight pride isn’t celebrated…
It is the social norm to be homosexual and being heterosexual is not only shameful, but it’s illegal. The world says you have a mental illness because you love someone of the opposite sex, you sneak out to secret locations to meet people and if anyone finds out that you’re straight you run the risk of being targeted in violent hate crimes, of your family and friends turning their back on you. You might even get yourself into a homosexual relationship so that people are less likely to suspect anything is different about you.
Now imagine that 50 years later the world has come a long way. You came out in your 20’s and the world didn’t stop but you lost some friends, your family didn’t accept it fully for years and some of your family just pretend they don’t know. You’re legally allowed to marry your heterosexual partner in many countries, and some will at least allow you to live in a de-facto relationship. You won’t have the same rights as the married homosexuals but at least you’re allowed to do that, you should be thankful the world is so progressive. Generally speaking, people are nicer about your heterosexuality, they’re starting to understand that it’s not a choice and that for a large portion of your life you probably spent time wishing yourself queer in some kind of way. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t risking your safety for being out though. You watched as the entire country debated your worth and whether you deserved equal rights because you’re straight. You used to hold your partners hand in public, but the verbal abuse got too much, and you were often frightened so you decided it best not to do that anymore. You have to come out again every time you build a new connection with someone, and it never gets any easier because there are still people who wouldn’t give you the job or wouldn’t be your mate if they knew you were a straight.
Pride month is the one month a year the rest of the world allows you to fully celebrate your identity. You’re straight and it’s ok. It’s been a tough battle but you’re at the end of that tunnel. Men can wear male clothes and women can wear feminine clothes and it’s okay to be a cis-gender hetero. It doesn’t stop the occasional abuse, but this is your month and you’ll enjoy it as much as possible.
Now imagine that all of a sudden, a group of gays who have had these rights FOREVER, who demanded that there be no education about straight sex, who told their kids that the straights were disgusting, it was unnatural, who publicly persecuted you for years, who never had to feel fear when they left the house, imagine that they have decided that the straights shouldn’t have a MONTH. Why do the straights need a WHOLE MONTH? What about gay pride? Where’s our pride parades?
Before Stonewall, life as a member of the LGBTQ+ community was significantly different. Laws that made it illegal to be gay meant that law enforcement agents were able to intimidate and harass LGBT people, including enforcing rules about wearing ‘gender appropriate clothing’. These laws made it mandatory for anyone to be wearing 3 gender appropriate items of clothing at any one time. Until 1973, homosexuality was listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as a disorder. Being gay was viewed as a mental illness for so long that many LGBTQ people truly believed that they were sick and had a problem they needed to hide or overcome.
The Lavender Scare, prevalent throughout the 1950’s, is a chilling reminder of why LGBTQ+ activism and rights should be celebrated. The Lavender Scare was a campaign in which gay and lesbian relationships were labelled as perverted and the government investigated and terminated employees that were found to have ever taken part in same-sex relations. Not only were same-sex attracted workers fired, but also those who knew them were fired for guilt of association. Whilst not without hope, times like the Lavender Scare meant that the LGBTQ+ hysteria that was relaxing since the 20th century took major steps backwards. There were limited safe spaces for those who identified to socialise together.
So, what was Stonewall?
In 1969 it was illegal to actually serve alcohol to LGBTQ+ people and much like most of the gay bars at the time, the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was Mafia-owned. Early in the morning of June 28, policemen raided the Stonewall in, the third raid on a gay bar in Greenwich Village in a short time. Attending officers arrested employees that were working there, assaulted patrons, cleared the bar and took several patrons into custody for not wearing three articles of gender-neutral clothing.
In previous instances, when bars had been raided, the patrons would scatter to avoid confrontation, arrest or assault. However, on this early morning in Greenwich Village the patrons stayed and were also joined by LGBTQ+ street kids – most of whom had left home due to their sexuality.
The 400 something large crowd became increasingly outraged as they watched members of their community be roughed about and thrown into police vans. The riot escalated and the police barricaded themselves inside of the Stonewall Inn for protection, however this seemed to make the crowd angrier.
By the time the officers were able to get out of the Inn, an estimated 500-1000 people had gathered to be a part of the crowd. For a couple of hours, the riot continued, with officers reportedly chasing down and beating members of the LGBTQ+ crowd – even for doing nothing wrong. Eventually the crowd dispersed, and the riot was over despite members of the community being as fed up as ever of the oppression they were facing.
The Stonewall Riot was a catalyst for the gay rights movement in America, the Saturday following the initial Stonewall incident drew an even larger crowd. The Stonewall Inn re-opened and this time the LGBTQ+ community were joined by other civil rights activists, hippies and even some tourists. Whilst there was still violent protest on this occasion there was also political discussion, speeches, pamphlets being handed out and a noticeable effort to contain the violence and turn it to peaceful protest.
As the days past the crowds shrunk and eventually, they were outnumbered by police. Officially the Stonewall Riot lasted 6 nights. On the first anniversary of the riots the first LGBTQ pride parade was held as thousands marched from Christopher to Central Park. This set in motion a trend world-wide for other pride events. Whilst Stonewall was not the first time LGBTQ+ rights had been protested, it was the first time it gained traction and was covered by mainstream media.
Present day and lasting effects
Whilst societal attitude has come so far in the decades preceding, the fights is still not yet over. Homosexuality was still illegal in Tasmania until 1997. Recently, two women were beaten on a train in the U.K. for not kissing when men asked them to for their entertainment. Gay men have been shot and murdered, trans women the target of violent hate crimes and murder, there are slurs screamed through the streets, women in same sex couples are raped by men who “will change their mind”. These things aren’t happening in war-torn or third world countries. These things are happening everywhere. Australia didn’t vote yes for same-sex marriage until the end of 2017. If that doesn’t give you an idea of why things still aren’t equal, then maybe you should do your own research and read about other instances, laws and regulations that continue to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. It’s not a mental illness, it’s not a choice, I regularly still see comments stating that same-sex couples or couples inclusive of a transgender individual shouldn’t be allowed to raise children or have access to surrogacy/IVF as they were aware of the birds and bees when they made their choices. If you are one of those people saying this, just know that a majority of us are laughing at you.