IDAHOT – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
We often think of homophobia existing in others. Only straight people are homophobic. But for years, many of us suffered from internalized homophobia. Even coming out does not automatically deal with the damage years of negative conditioning has created. For some it continues to play havoc with their mental health and relationships.
My message today to those still experiencing this is YOU ARE OK and self-loving is much healthier than self-loathing.
If you think that all is good with LGBTI people today then you live in a bubble. For many LGBTI people their world is not a safe space. Your level of freedom is influenced by four factors.
Firstly it’s geographical. In some parts of the world our brothers and sisters live in fear of death or imprisonment. Even in some suburbs or Sydney or in rural Australia, simply walking down the street hand in hand with your partner is a courageous act that could lead to verbal abuse or violence.
The second factor is the cultural context. In some cultures being gay is not even an option. It’s taboo. To come out is seen as a rejection of your culture.
The third factor is the family situation where expectations are put upon the children to be ‘normal’ and to deviate from this is tantamount to betrayal.
And finally religion can be an enormous barrier to people being themselves. Every step towards LGBTI equality and to end discrimination has always been met with resistance and hostility from the religious world.
Some people have to contend with all these four factors.
Whilst it is a better world for many LGBT people we have recently seen how fragile gains in acceptance and equality can be. The opposition to the Safe Schools program is an example in Australia and in the US, anti-trans bathroom legislation.
It is easy to see individuals, organisations, politicians and religion as the enemy. But the real enemy of homophobia and transphobia is ignorance. Change happens by focusing our energies on transforming the latter instead of attacking the former.
So on IDAHOT let us remember …… there is still much to do.