Homophobia is alive and well in 2016… And it’s not just straight people who are guilty of it.
If you keep up to date with the news, you may have seen the article about homophobic attacks in the UK rising by 147% since the Brexit vote. While I’d love to say that it’s simply a dramatic headline that has no truth in it, I cannot do that. My own experiences tell me that homophobia is alive and well in 2016. I believe we should be concerned.
Earlier this month I attended the UK Pride Organisers Network (UKPON) conference in Birmingham. As the chair of Warwickshire Pride, it was great to be part of such a positive, inspiring weekend. We learnt, shared and supported each other in order to achieve our common goals. It was during the conference that the aforementioned article appeared online, detailing the rise in hate crimes against LGBT+ people since the Brexit vote. It really brought home the fact that Pride is still needed and that it continues to have a purpose. Then something happened to me that confirmed this again.
As I was walking back to my hotel, a group of people were heading towards me. They were clearly drunk and being quite rowdy. As I walked passed them, one of them looked at me and shouted: “are you a f***ing queer?”. Normally I’d be inclined to challenge such a person, but common sense told me to put my head down, ignore him and walk away quickly to avoid there being a more serious confrontation. Part of me was disappointed that I chose to react in that way, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
When I got back to my hotel room, I felt upset that within Birmingham’s gay village someone had shouted something homophobic at me. Surely that is somewhere LGBT+ people are relatively safe, but apparently, that’s not the case.
Something else that happened on the same weekend was the appearance of Bratavio on the X Factor. As a friend of Bradley Hunt, I was excited for him. It was then that I began to see some of the comments that he and Ottavio Columbro were receiving online. Much of the trolling was homophobic in nature, with some people even wishing death on Bratavio. It was yet another example of homophobia being rife in the modern day. Despite great strides forward in terms of legal equality, I sometimes feel that socially we are going backwards.
However, the thing that disappoints me the most about the hatred and homophobia aimed at Bratavio is the fact that so much of it has come from other gay people. One would hope that gay people would be supportive of each other and celebrate our differences, as we know what it’s like to be put down for being who you are. But no, that’s not the case. The mountain of homophobia coming from gay people is sickening, with many branding Bratavio embarrassing to the gay community. I have to disagree. In fact, my view is that it’s those trolls who are the real embarrassment to gay people.
Of course, I may be slightly biased as I happen to know one-half of Bratavio, but ultimately celebrating people for who they are is a big part of who I am. Having an opinion is one thing, but abuse and homophobia are never ok.
So what’s the answer? I’m not sure I have it. It’s clear that hate crime laws need to be tightened and that there needs to be a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia. This is something our government and police forces need to action as a matter of urgency. We cannot continue to live in fear and should not have to deal with this kind of abuse in 2016.
As for the gay people being abusive towards other gay people, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. The cracks within our LGBT+ family appear to be widening and I worry about where we are going to end up. As I’ve said before, our community is eating itself from the inside out. With so much hatred being directed at our community, we should be sticking together, not turning on each other.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.