So #PrideMonth2019 has pretty much come to an end, and I thought I would raise my thoughts and opinions on the topic. Firstly, I have been openly gay myself for about five years (including two of those years being at University). I feel that it is very important for young people to speak up about themselves and their community as we are going to be the next generation of leaders and need to be confident in what we believe in.
There has been a lot of amazing coverage surrounding Pride this year, and I was actually lucky enough to go to Pride in London with one of my female friends. We ended up meeting a group of other young people who were there to celebrate our community. The one thing about Pride and all of the events is that you don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ+ community in order to attend. You can be there to support friends and family, be an ally to friends or just go because you like rainbows!
Although there are a lot of amazing parts to do with Pride month, there are also a lot of people who have negative opinions around the topic and don’t want to associate themselves with the society, which in all honesty is fair enough as not everyone has to be supportive of the community, but the ways in which they act towards LGBTQ+ people should not be tolerated.
The first thing I want to address is the fact that companies ‘go gay’ for a month. In other words, they believe that supporting pride means throwing a flag over a table or creating ‘LGBTQ+ themed cakes’ in order to make a profit and draw in the LGBTQ+ community to use their products or services. In all honesty, I find this incredibly disturbing and even more offensive than if they DIDN’T support pride. I believe it’s the same for celebrities and social media influencers who believe it’s ok to release a video with a clickbait title like; ‘Coming out as gay’ and then they’re just talking about the community and how everyone should love everyone etc. Those sorts of people and companies really wind me up, because they are trying everything they can to earn money and get attention, for something that they have never experienced and don’t really care about. But, I’ll leave that rant for a different post.
I have had my fair share of homophobic abuse, including a night when I went to a gay bar with some friends in Nottingham. I believe it was a fancy dress night and I was, therefore, wearing a bit of makeup and had some fake acrylic nails on from Primark…and we were all just minding our own business, but I could see a group of mature men looking over at me and my friends. At first I thought nothing of it, but when I went out for some fresh air in the smoking area, one of the lads approached me and asked me quite an offense question – “What is all that sh*t on your face?’, to which I replied, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’’ and continued by saying, ‘It might have fell on my face’. There was a verbal disagreement between the two of us and in the end, he was removed from the pub, but the fact that I wanted to dress in a certain way made him, making him feel happy, didn’t need him to retaliate the way he did.
I believe an important part of Pride is that it should be spoken about on a daily basis about how the world is changing, and laws are becoming more accepting of our community. Pride related situations are occurring every day, whether that’s something positive or a crime that ends in torture, rape, imprisonment or even death. I am quite passionate about this topic and listening to young people’s thoughts and opinions of it, as I also have homophobic parents, so can relate to those younger children who are also going through some difficult times. It has been difficult for me to grow up having this massive secret on my shoulders, which I revealed to my parents a few years ago, but that has made me even more passionate to try and make changes in order to benefit the LGBTQ+ community.
There has been a lot of cases recently where people have been in discussions and debates as to whether LGBTQ+ as a topic, should be discussed and taught in schools. I am in 110% agreement with the people that believe it should, as there are LGBTQ+ children in almost every primary and secondary school around the world, but they don’t understand what it means. In the debates, I have heard a lot of people say that ‘religion comes first’ which is a fair statement but to be negative and show hatred towards another minority community is not the way to go about the issue. In those same interviews, politicians and religious people have stated that they ‘aren’t being homophobic’, but ‘they don’t want their children believing that they have to be LGBTQ+ to be accepted’ which as stupid as it sounds, is absolute nonsense. The fact that people are campaigning for it to be taught in schools does not equate to it being ‘shoved in people’s faces’ or ‘making anyone gay’. The same could be said for religious studies. For example, if a class is being taught about Islam, the parents of non-Islamic families will believe that the school is ‘forcing religion into their kids’ which is also untrue.
Unfortunately being gay, being a lesbian or any of the other letters, genders or sexualities that have been created are just part of the society we live in today, like it or not…and although a lot of people do not agree with what the community stands for, their children still need to understand the concepts included; whether that’s same-sex relationships, single parents, adults or young people identifying as ‘non binary’ – not classing themselves as male or female etc. In no way, shape or form are we saying ‘YOU HAVE TO BE GAY’, it’s just knowledge that children need to be taught about briefly from a young age so that they don’t become an adult without understanding the simple concepts of ‘LGBTQ+ life’.
Homophobia can come in all forms, especially on social media where people like to hide behind a computer screen or a private account and say things knowing that they will be ‘virtually attacked’. Another case where I was involved in a debate regarding homosexuality was on Instagram. I am quite active about my personality and I quite enjoy having conversations with new people all the time, so when I received this one individual direct message several months ago from a music producer, I accepted and we began talking about music.
A few weeks down the line everything seems to be going smoothly, and he’s in talks with some singer/songwriters about creating tracks, and he was giving me some details about his company etc…and then out of the blue he reposted a picture to his Instagram story of two homosexual YouTubers Nick Toteda and Anthony Cushion captioning the image ‘a disease’ and that people who accept this sort of behavior are ‘manipulated idiots’. This made me incredibly angry so I ended up getting into a debate with him about why he would post something so knowingly offensive to many in the community, and with his huge following, there would be people who would stop business with him due to his homophobic and offensive behavior towards the LGBQ+ community.
Other comments he made to me in a private chat included that ‘We are men, not creatures’…’ You need a f*cking girl and boy to make children’…and that being gay ‘isn’t normal’. The conversation abruptly ended when he eventually blocked me and I just feel that as that was a sign of cowardly behavior, and that because someone from the community eventually stood up to him, he thought the best way to resolve the issue was to block me.
The most recent scandal of anti LGBTQ+ behavior came from a Twitter page called ‘Questioning LGBT Education’ which is a page promoting everything against LGBTQ+ life and that the issues have gone ‘way beyond two mum and into indoctrination’. Below are just SOME of this person’s tweets, who is also too scared to come from behind the computer screen, reveal their identity and explain their reasoning behind this incredibly weird, offensive and clearly homophobic mindset. Other forms of homophobia that I have stumbled across or being involved in can be found below.
My main point from writing this blog post, is that children DO need to learn about the LGBTQ+ community in school and that there are always going to be people against the community, so I wrote this blog post as an urgent message/appeal to the younger generation that there is nothing wrong with being part of the community, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to speak up about issues or situations you are going through. I now classify myself as an LGBTQ+ ambassador and I am always trying to educate anti-LGBQT+ through words as opposed to being violent. Words will always be stronger than actions when trying to win someone over.
By Brandon Boyd
Feature image courtesy of Youtube