This weekend, thousands rejoiced and celebrated gay pride events held in the cosmopolitan cities of London and New York. LGBT pride events as they're perhaps more appropriately named take place across many cities every year, and in turn they produce the painfully offensive and irritating question from many; "why isn't there a 'straight pride'?"
Gay Pride has changed largely due to the context it now operates in. Gay rights have evolved so much it is just wonderful to be a part of a country that celebrates difference. There are still prejudices to overcome. Young gay people can still not feel comfortable at school. With the word 'dyke' being used 1000 times a day on Twitter, 'faggot' 4,500 times a day. With 26% of young gay people attempting suicide and 52% self harming and the word 'gay' banded around as a pejorative description of something defunct and wrong, Gay Pride's message should be about sustaining what we have and looking to improve the lives of young gay people. To protect them through education and allow our young people to see that difference isn't bad, it is something to be celebrated.
Starting an organisation to represent the rights of the dominant majority in a society is patently absurd, and speaks to the intolerance of those involved in their rejection of rights for a minority. It simply rings alarm bells for those who wish to see equality extended to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, disabilities, religious beliefs, or anything else.
This weekend saw the UK host two of the largest Gay Pride festivals in Liverpool and Brighton, celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life. Both cities will hold a parade and open air festival, featuring stages and street stalls accompanied by various arts and cultural events throughout the cities.
Nearly every time I write an article (or talk on the radio) about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, someone then contacts me to complain about my employment of the word "queer". Since summer is the season for LGBT(Q!) pride events, it seems like the ideal time to que(e)ry the term "queer", and to think about why it seems to be a word that divides opinion.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has signed into law the new homophobic Bill that criminalises gay freedom of expression. The adoption of children by foreign same-sex couples has also been banned and gay organisations that receive financial donations from overseas are being fined as 'foreign agents'. These are the latest examples of an escalating trend towards homophobic repression in Russia...