I am somewhat lucky to be a gay male in Birmingham. I am graced within an amazing community of LGBTQ+ people. My best friends are gay, and, for the first time in my life; I feel safe to express who I am. With February being LGBT History Month, the clock tower at my university (University of Birmingham) turning rainbow and true representations of gay life (Banana, Cucumber, Tofu) being shown on TV, it already looks like being a gay student in 2015 Birmingham is looking to be a promising aspect. I am a lucky minority.
Having only been called a "faggot" on a few occasions and getting into a rather heated argument with some homophobic ape on the first night of freshers week, university has been widely accepting and I'm so thankful for that. I am still angry however. Homophobia may have died down a little in more educated and urban environments, but only to have been replaced by Transphobia. A concept that is worsened by the lack of education that there is regarding Transsexuality and is literally killing Trans members around the world. From misgendering an individual and ignoring their preferred pronouns, to global cases of murder of Trans men and women, Transphobia is becoming ever more prominent and it's scary. I am very aware of the issues the LGBTQ+ community face across the UK and further afield, with my ex-boyfriend's dad wanting to send him to a "gay conversion" camp on finding out that his son was in fact seeing a Dean; not a Dina, Deanna or Diana. Sorry about that.
On 28 December 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a Trans teen, committed suicide after her family rejected her identity; a story that has become common knowledge over the last month. Her suicide note was posted on social media outlet, Tumblr, stating how "the only way [she] will rest in peace is if one day Transgender people aren't treated the same was [she was]" continuing into, "[that] they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights". I am so sick of members of the LGBTQ+ community having their rejection from society trivialised. We are as natural as you. To the cowards using religious texts out of context as weapons to an ever loving community, please, I'm aware it wasn't Adam and Steve, but I'm pretty sure God would've loved Adam and Steve the same way as Eve.
Every time you tell a young Trans boy or girl that what s/he is is not real or natural, you are creating a sense of social detachment. Every time you tell a gay, lesbian, asexual, bisexual, pansexual, demisexual and of the likes that they're going to Hell, that they're greedy or in a phase, that their parents didn't love them, that they have daddy issues or just plain disgusting; you are to blame for the driving behind teenagers taking their own life. Sedimented oppression through the use of words is seemingly commonplace in both today and yesterday's world. It is a human right to feel loved, safe and accepted within the environment that one lives in. Though I personally do not know any members of the Trans community, it is still just as quintessential to advocate love and protect LGBTQ+ individuals from harassment and hatred.
UK LGBT mental health charity PACE recently found in a study that 48% of Trans people under the age of 26 said they had attempted to take their own lives, with 30% saying that they had done so in the past year. That's almost half of the entire Trans community.
The key to tackling such issues is through education. This is not exclusively bound to institutions of education, but through television, social media, newspapers and magazines. "Phobia" suggests fear, in which comes in forms of ignorance that can only be reversed with such means of exposure and education. Cisgender, white, straight privilege is discovering such issues through media and not through personal experience.
When a minority is oppressed, cornered or made to feel like they're not on the same level as the socially dominant, stronger communities form. Attacking the gay community is a very stupid thing to do in this day and age.
Faggot. Queer. Unnatural. I am proud to be gay. I am proud of my gay flatmate's confidence with his boyfriend in public. I am proud of every gay person I know who daily prevail their identities. I am proud at how the straight and LGBTQ+ community reacted to Alcorn's death. But I'm still angry.
Rest in Power: Leelah Alcorn.