Visibility and caution

This week the Stonewall LGBTQ+ charity started their annual Rainbow Laces campaign, partnering with various sports across the UK to draw visibility to the inequalities that remain within active spaces. As soon as any kind of directive is made that brings the existence of LGBTQ+ people to the forefront, there is an immediate backlash from certain members of society and much clutching of pearls ensues.

“I don’t mind them, but do they have to push it in our faces? Can’t they keep it to themselves? Why do they need campaigns to talk about these things, just get on with it if you must!”

The irony of people making these sorts of ignorant statements at a campaign aimed at making spaces more welcoming for people is completely lost of course. To many, the fact they don’’t actively seek out LGBTQ+ people to physically harm seems to be the pinnacle of tolerance and acceptance, when this sort of separatism and lack of actual positive action directly feeds a system that leads to people doing just that.

The reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people rose sharply at the end of the pandemic.

As restrictions were loosened, it seems that whatever had been holding some people back from attacking members of the community had come loose too. Many may think that has nothing to do with them as they tolerate the existence of people who aren’t like them, but a lot of this violence happens because of a society that allows the ‘othering’ of any characteristic that deviates from the norm. This absolutely begins with the language, jokes and ‘banter’ that too many people participate in.

The Stonewall campaign this year has a slogan of ‘lace up and speak up’, asking everyone to engage in honest conversation with the people around them about LGBTQ+ issues. I am relatively lucky in the sense that for my close circle of friends and family, I am mostly able to do that.

While out and about, however, I am still incredibly cautious. Whether in my small town in Spain (which is better) or back in mainstream spaces in a big city in the UK, my partner and I don’t tend to hold hands. We must be careful about what we say to whom when meeting new people. We have moments when our stomachs drop during conversations when homophobic jokes are made, and we know we cannot feel safe around those people any longer if we did in the first place.

When I bring these things up to people, there tends to be disbelief that this is how people are made to feel in a world where it seems that so much ‘progress’ is being made. I must remind them that if there must be campaigns to generate even the mere conversation around an LGBTQ+ person being allowed into a space, we are very far off feeling safe and welcome.

Claire Gordon’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

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Claire Gordon

An ex-union representative, Claire Gordon's philosophical views on all things human rights-based is a refreshing take on issues facing the world today.


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