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Straight People Are Not Stakeholders In LGBT+ Lives

06/09/2017 12:16

I am getting pretty tired of having to justify my identity to other people. Against the grain of the tolerant generation, there seems to have been more and more instances of LGBT+ people having to 'explain themselves' to an ignorant minority in recent weeks. It is high time that this orgulous straight minority realised that they are not stakeholders in LGBT+ lives.

This week, the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University dismissed concerns that professors were airing homophobic views in teaching environments. Students had complained to him personally, and all he could muster in response was "my job isn't to make you feel comfortable." He frames the professors' expression of homophobia and the students' repulsion of it, as a jousting of ideals or an academic debate to be had - but this is a privilege too far.

Herein lies the problem; innateness is never something that needs to be vindicated nor extrapolated. It is never expected that a straight person should have to defend their heterosexuality to their peers or to accept derision and dehumanisation for it because others feel it's within their democratic parameters when it isn't.

The primal traits of queer people are not discussion topics for a smattering of hoity toity heterosexuals. Whether an LGBT+ person gets to feel comfortable in an academic environment is not down to a professor's discretion. Why, oh why, do we allow this odd and utterly reprehensible practice of straight people ordering LGBT+ people to fight for the inalienable decency that everyone should be afforded without question?

It is not only in Oxford that these farcical practices take place. In Australia, the nation is gripped by a preposterous referendum on whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage. How can it be right that primarily straight politicians are putting, what should be a universal right, to a vote for people for whom it does not effect in the least?

Again, this week whilst BBC's Victoria Derbyshire paid tribute to a formidable LGBT+ journalist and my friend, Dean Eastmond, who passed away on Sunday morning, ITV's Good Morning Britain welcomed a guest who claimed he could cure homosexuality. How ludicrously irresponsible to have a gay therapist on a morning TV show which will be watched by countless scared LGBT+ youths across the country. Ignoring the fact, there is literally no scientific evidence that 'gay cures' work, what we are once again doing with this segment is offering the definition of LGBT+ rightfulness to the likes of Piers Morgan.

If the pertinence of this unpleasant scourge is not made obvious from these instances alone, you only need to look at the reaction to John Lewis removing gender labels from their children's clothes to realise how prevalent an issue it is. All the retailer has done is make children's clothing gender neutral - it has not marketed flowers to boys or monster trucks to girls, it has marketed them to children. This is a distinctly progressive step which does only one thing; accommodates gender queer children and allows them to freely express themselves - it does not stop other children from dressing in clothes that are traditionally seen as male or female nor does it proclaim that gender in children is obsolete. It is, in no uncertain terms, an inclusive measure.

Once more, the intolerant acted so rigidly that they could not accommodate any world view that differs from their own. It is a case of "be who you are, but keep it away from me" - and that is not a deal good enough for the LGBT+ community in 2017.

Let's look at the trade-off in all of these issues. At Oxford University, to a straight person, they are losing their ability to debate the legitimacy of someone's innate sexual preference, for an LGBT+ person they are losing their sense of being human, their sense of safety in academia and their ability to maintain self-esteem.

We could give all LGBT+ people the right to marry the people they love or we can legitimise the concept of heteronormative dictatorship and give people who have no stake in the matter the majority vote.
ITV could lose the opportunity to bring dangerous people claiming homosexuality can and should be cured in to the homes of vulnerable LGBT+ youths or we could give a viewpoint so archaic and so marginal that it doesn't warrant television coverage, the disdain it deserves and eradicate it through argument off-screen.

And we could try and enfranchise children by empowering them to dress however they like by doing away with barmy gendered labels, or we could reinforce the type of odd stereotyping and persist with the lack of flexibility that can't even substitute two letters in a gender pronoun, that caused a 15-year-old boy to take his own life last week.

I do not have an issue with the problematic views of homophobia and transphobia being confronted, challenged, ridiculed and dismantled publicly. But what society, which is clearly predominantly heterosexual, needs to realise is that LGBT+ people's identity is not something open for their negotiation. It is not up to other communities to discuss whether a person's very state of being is worthy of protection, equality or legitimacy.

It is just like when celebrities come out in the media and swarms of people flock to publicly register their disinterest that 'being gay is still newsworthy', they pat themselves on the back and tick off a box on their socially progressive buzzword bingo card - but they fail to grasp the actual point. The exposure of LGBT+ people in any position of power, be it political, celebrity or otherwise is empowering to the LGBT+ community and the perfect antidote to the self-hatred that our rigidly heteronormative society can foster in queer young people.

Society needs to learn that equality movements need to be led by those who are being oppressed in the first place. In fact, I cannot say it plainer than this - straight people are not stakeholders in the rights, conduct or lifestyle of LGBT+ people. We do not need your permission nor approval to operate how we choose. I recognise that this is a small number of heterosexual people but the point remains nonetheless.
500,000 LGBT+ youths attempt suicide every year because society treats their legitimacy as traversable for an entitled minority. No straight person has ever attempted suicide because they were denied the chance to debate the validity of being gay.

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