This is Calum McSwiggan. He is my friend. I count him as a close friend. We've spent hours chatting, we've grabbed lunch together, we've drunk a little too much together, we've put the world to rights more than once and we've even collaborated on charitable projects to make this world just that little bit better place to live. This guy is a beautiful creature.
This weekend, while I marched in London Pride, he was horrifically attacked, beaten and berated for just being that beautiful creature.
It begs me to ask the question - how many more of my friends need to be beaten, berated and attacked before people realise that the LGBT community are human; that love, laugh and cry just like you? We are no different. We have jobs, families, children, dreams and aspirations - much like you.
Now, Calum's not special. This kind of attack happen every day, in the UK and across the world, all because of a lack of education in schools, religious communities and lack of government action to protect us. It shouldn't take an act like Orlando to open the world's eyes to how much some individuals and groups hate us.
Calum will be adding his name to a long line of human beings that have been attacked for just being who they were born to be. My name is there too - I was attacked walking home for being a "queer faggot" - and sadly we won't be the last. Even though people defining as LGBT is more prominent in society in the last decade or so people seem to not understand that we still need a gay bar as a sanctuary. Anyone who doesn't understand why we still need this sanctuary has never been afraid to hold their lover's hand in public.
But there are ways to stop this and they need our full attention. People are dying, humans are committing suicide, being beaten and being told they are second class citizens. Charities such as Stonewall in the UK have been working with schools and local communities educating the populous that being gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans is fine. More than fine - it's amazing! They go into a school and tell an eleven-year-old boy who has feelings he doesn't understand that those feelings are okay and he shouldn't have to be scared. They tell a little girl that it's okay not to like boys. You can help them here: stonewall.org.uk/get-involved
I'm sure I can say for Calum and I that it should be everyone's goal to make sure what has happened to us never happens to someone else. And we'll be proud to have you by our side.
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