I’ve often been told, even by close friends, that homophobia doesn’t really happen round here. Where I live. I’m meant to feel lucky. Why? Because I haven’t been attacked verbally or physically due to my sexuality. Because so far, my sexuality hasn’t stopped me from doing something I wanted to. Because the simple matter of who I’m attracted to hasn’t forced me to change who I am or lie about myself. Because I don’t wake up every morning with the constant reminder that there are people in the world who would rather the LGBTQ+ community did not exist. I’m lucky that my existence has been validated by the people around me.
And the most terrifying thing is that they are mostly right. I am lucky. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by a group of friends and family that are so accepting, but unfortunately this idea brings us to much more horrifying truth, which is mostly ignored by the lucky few who live in an area where they are not prosecuted for who they are. Because what we must unfortunately always remember is that many people are unlucky. Many people do not live in the safety and comfort which they deserve, purely because of their own sexuality. Something which they have no choice over. No choice whatsoever. At the heart of it, discrimination against someone due to aspects of there life such as their race, gender or sexuality does not make sense within my own head.
This isn’t something they decided overnight, or decided at all, how can they be to blame for what they are? Why should they be blamed at all? The argument against discrimination of all kinds seems painfully obvious when written on paper in such a blase fashion as this, but, just as it has been the case since the dawn of mankind, discrimination of all forms still takes place every day, in almost every corner of the globe.
The website NoHomophobes.com tracks the use of common homophobic language on twitter, every day. And just today on the 2nd of april 2019, at 2:14 in the afternoon, homophobic language has been used 6,104 separate times. Over 6 thousands times. Of course, all of these language has not been used to directly cause someone offense. They could have been used as a joke, just a substitute for bad or unliked or annoying, nothing more than a synonym right?
They didn’t really mean it. They’re not really homophobic. Come on Wilfred you get that right? It’s just a force of habit. They’re the usual excuses. of course, i’m never going to lose my mind when my mates or people around my six form use these words, which isn’t all that often to be fair to them. But everytime it hurts, just a little bit. Every time. Because I can forgive these excuses, for the ones who say it, it means nothing to them because they don’t mean to offend, they only said it once. And maybe it is because these words mean something to me i notice every time they are said.
But maybe not. Maybe it’s time for people to stop making excuses about their language. Maybe it’s a time to break some habits. Because yes, the use of homophobic language, which it is, regardless what offence it causes someone, is unacceptable, regardless of context. Because somewhere beyond the protective walls of the friendly environment of st joseph’s college, there are really people who can’t express who they really are. And there are people who cant speak up against the offence language they hear, or wear what they want to, or be with who they want, or say what they want to, fear of who they really are being discovered. In literal fear of their own sexuality, something they have no control, no choice over, being discovered by the people closest to them. Their family, their peers and their friends. People near us in ipswich, in England, in Europe and America and even further afield. In places we brand as ‘developed and civilised’.
Why? Because if people find out who they really are, they could be kicked out of their homes, verbally and physically abused, or even lose their lives. They could be discriminated and segregated, now unwanted by their family and friends. Left alone or left for dead. And this is no exaggeration these are events that take place almost every day, in every corner of the globe. Homophobia doesn’t really happen? Explain that to the 1 in 5 members of the LGBT community who have been victims of hate crimes against them due to their own sexuality in just this country alone (figures from Stonewall). That’s 720,000 thousand people in the United Kingdom alone. Just because it hasn’t happened to me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all.
And that is the route of the issue. So no, I don’t lose my mind every time a friend of mine, or a peer spouts ‘that’s so gay’ whenever anything they don’t like appears or takes place. But it hurts a little more inside. As I know that those words, to some, carry far more malicious and violent tendencies. Emotions of hatred and disgust. Emotions that should never surround a word which once applied itself to happiness and a joyful nature. And a word that now is used by millions around the world to self identify themselves, a word which allows people to connect as a minority and as a culture of family. A word which to many can mean something far more negative and derogatory than it ever should be. A word which should not be used in such an insulting manner. Not only to protect the emotions of someone vulnerable and afraid, or to protect the emotions of someone equally strong and proud, but also to defend the memorise of those who have lost their lives fighting for rights which we as a community have only had available to us very recently, and to defend the current society we exist in from bigotry and discrimination.
The societal impacts of what one might assume is the harmless act of using homophobic language so carelessly is much greater than any one can comprehend, as the use of such language is more than an insult, it’s a message to the rest of society that using such offence terminology is okay, which is a message that I, along with the rest of the community, can not sit back and allow to be passed on. What can start with the usage of words like ‘gay’ to be associated with unlikable event or actions can slowly began to convince the impressionable around you that being a part of the LGBT community is a bad thing; something to be discriminated for, and that is the problem.
However, if this language is completely removed from our vocabulary, expect for the meaning the word really carries. A description of someones sexuality, and nothing more, then one day, Homophobia may no longer dominate the fears of 6% of the entire population of the UK.. My only message to anyone who will care to listen, is one must think far more carefully about the language they use, as the meaning behind one word can have a far greater effect on another. We as a community have come so far, but no more homophobia? No, we all have so much further to go.