I am a gay man that grew up in an compulsorily heterosexual world. There was no allowance during my childhood that I might not be straight, I could not tell you how many times I overheard “oh, when Chris gets himself a girlfriend or a wife, blah blah blah...”, all the while knowing I would never do so. Being anything but heterosexual was never presented as a possibility for my generation, and definitely not those before mine. It’s the sort of unthinking narrow mindedness that leaves LGBT+ kids around the world growing up under a cloud of isolation and confusion that plagues their entire lives.
In the last few weeks we have seen the return of a virulent form of homophobia on our streets, hidden behind the familiar guise of ‘religious conscience’ – a potential resurrection of Section 28 but with the potential for even uglier consequences. While new reforms to the primary school curriculum where the mere acknowledgement of homosexual relationships are included, ‘concerned’
bigots parents are protesting, and worse yet, they are indoctrinating their children in to spewing hateful chants on the street with them.
Despite absolutely no specific teachings on gay sex, these campaigners claim that this progressive move ‘sexualises’ children. It’s curious though, that no such argument is ever, ever used when adults roll out the all too familiar ‘oh, he’s going to be a heartbreaker’, and ‘look, he’s got himself a little girlfriend’ lines to the toddlers in their lives.
Honestly, there is little point in trying to address the validity of this group’s justifications. There is no logic, no consistency and no reasoning behind it other than hate. Any rational-minded sensible person knows that homophobia, in any form, is unacceptable – irrespective of the theistic bastardisation compelling it to happen. We all know this. Yet, most of our politicians appear too scared to do anything about it.
Of course, the never-ending drama of Brexit is the huge focal point for politicians at the moment but with every passing week these protests continue largely unchecked, the failure of government to unilaterally condemn the appalling attacks on LGBT+ people grows more and more concerning.
As a liberal society, we are often presented with the duty to decide between freedoms that have come in to opposition. The freedom to hold and interpret religious views is important but it cannot be held in higher regard than the mere freedom to live as you are. Innateness must always be protected above ideology, be it religious, political or whatever else.
We are now waiting to welcome a new prime minister in to 10 Downing Street, and one of the hopefuls Esther McVey, when presented an opportunity to pitch a premiership that would defend LGBT+ rights at the heart of government, sided with the protesters. “Parents know best” was her conclusion. The derision of experts continues, and now it threatens Britain’s LGBT+ community, as the dossier of disastrous Tory leadership candidates bid to out-Farage each other.
Does she not know that 52% of young LGBT+ people self-harm. That 44% of us have considered suicide and 5% will attempt it? Does she not realise that 61% of the LGBT+ community have anxiety – making us three times more likely to suffer than straight people? Does she really not know that we are more likely to suffer from body dysmorphia and eating disorders and are less likely to have our health needs understood by healthcare professionals?
The demonisation of educating children about our experience means that these statistics will never ever improve. If MPs are serious about LGBT+ equality, then it is long overdue for them to reaffirm their commitment to LGBT+ inclusive sex and relationship education and unilaterally denounce the blatant displays of homophobia in our streets, and the sinister manipulation of child minds with it.
As much as I wish it wasn’t so, we LGBT+ people rely on allies to help protect us. Do something.