Never has sunshine on a chilly day felt more beautiful

For the last decade (since its inception in May 2005), 17th May marks International Day Against Homophobia. The concept of the day originated from ILGA – the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and the date itself is 10 years on from when the World Health Organisation finally removed homosexuality from its official classification of diseases. Today it is marked and celebrated in 70 countries across the world.

I always think of Homophobia, Biphobia or Transphobia are like feeling the warmth of sunshine on a chilly day. In the UK we have come a long way with legislation and policy change that now supports the spectrum of sexualities that exist. Whilst voluntary and statutory organisations in the UK have taken many steps forward in terms of including and trying to understand the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community’s needs. In some areas this still feels like a very slow journey.

I know that if I am with a lover or partner. I still in 2015 have to do a risk assessment and think about where I am in London. Before I feel I can hold my same sex partners hand or give them a kiss on their lips in public. Women alone still may be harassed by men in similar ways. I know in most parts of the UK, my heterosexual peers may not have to do the same risk assessment or worry in the same way about the attitudes of others.

In London where I choose to live I always seek the safety of the city, though is the City really that safe?

In some parts of the UK Homophobia, Biphobia or Transphobia are still alive and well. This is why there still remains a need for specific services for our community as sadly LGBT hate crime still happens.

Sadly, the lead of the equalities of the Conservative Party is also someone who campaigned against same sex marriage that feels like an oxymoron in itself; to me feels like buying equality in the soon to expire section in any high food shop.

Whilst I think it is important to continue to campaign to wider society, I feel we still need to reflect where we sit within our own LGBTQ community around Homophobia, Biphobia or Transphobia. I know I do, I know some of my colleagues within the community are leading the way. But it is all very well to ask everyone else to accept, embrace and challenge their opinions; I feel the community also needs to challenge their own views.

Recently for example, I know I struggled with a particular LGBT project (that will remain nameless) still struggling in what to do with the Bisexual and Transgender population. I found myself staggered and felt the need to retreat from the project as it felt like it had stood still in time; and did not authentically sit with where I stand professionally or personally on this matter.

This is the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century — solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.” Elie Wiesel

So use 17th May, to mark how far we have come, to remember those that we may have lost along the way and to see where you can create dialogue within and external to the LGBTQ community.


About Author

Joel is a qualified counsellor and psycho-therapeutic supervisor working with both youth and adult clients. He has worked in the LGBT community for over 14 years working in the fields of health, social care and youth work. This has included working in HIV prevention and supporting adults and young people who are living with HIV. Since 1999, Joel has delivered training and workshops in the voluntary and statutory sectors around the themes of sexuality, homophobia and sexual health.

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