I mentioned my boyfriend to someone who I have business with on a regular basis, she replied “oh I know him, he doesn’t look gay” then she went on to dig a bigger hole and said “but neither do you”.
Exactly what a gay couple look like through her eyes would be easy to figure out.
Behind the humor of this conversation there are serious overtones, even here in the UK, where we have the third best lgbt rights in Europe. It’s estimated by StonewallUK that roughly 7 percent of us are gay, contradicted by the the 2011 census, figures that have been used against gay people to suggest that our community is much smaller than previously thought. Regardless of the amount of LGBT living in the UK, everyone should be treated the same. The census figures are long debated to suggest different reasonings but statistics shouldn’t really matter in terms of equality.
What does truly matter is acceptance.
The only way to achieve acceptance is visibility and not just from a couple of groups that are naturally visible, such as transgender and genderfluid, the more flamboyant gay men and so on. Looking at these groups who have been at the front of equality in regards of attitudes the lgbt community may appear, small and less diverse than it truly is.
It was only 2003 in the UK when the final laws that could be used to prosecute or be restrictive towards the LGBT family for doing something as simple as holding hands or even the education of homosexuality and gender diversity were finally debunked.
This act was called the Labouchere Amendment 1885 and as I mentioned previously was replaced with The Sexual Offences act of 1967 act, that was far from equal. An act that made the age of consent 21 for homosexual activities, an act that made it illegal to sleep with your partner in an hotel room and an act that prohibited gay men holding hands in the street. This act was fortified in 1986 with the parts of the Public Order act.
Also the prevention of education plays a vast part in these issues, without education it’s easy to understand why the public were against homosexuality. The infamous Section 28 was brought in to prevent the promotion of homosexuality in 1987, fueled by the conservative attitude towards gay and bisexual men as a consequence of the AIDS epidemic and the myth that it was the fault of homosexual activity.
All of these laws where debunked by time the new sexual Offences act came in place in 2003.
The Victorian law that the 1967 act actually replaced. It prosecuted men for any form of ‘gross indecency’, the prosecutors could sentence any man participating in any homosexual act, this would have even included kissing in the privacy of you own home, unlike the previous law that focused on the actual sexual act of buggery.
It’s easy to understand why older generations struggle with diverse gender and sexuality, once anything short of heterosexuality was considered criminal or as a 1965 survey suggested 93 percent of the population considered homosexuality as a mental illness.
Time has changed and we need to leave this way of thinking behind.
However such laws leave scars on a community for a long time, so it’s understandable why some men are reluctant to do something as simple as hold hands here in the 21st century.
Phobic hate crimes are being reported more than ever, transphobia is even more visible, so it’s also understandable that if you are in a situation, as myself and my partner, public displays of affection could easily be avoided, especially when I remember the two homophobic attacks I have witnessed in my life. It’s easy not to want to hold my partners hand or hug and kiss him goodbye on the platform when he goes away.
It’s easy for myself to miss out on such human experiences and emotions, secretly hiding, just for the sake of not being accepted by roughly fifteen percent of the country nowadays. It’s easy not to show others our own diversity, that the lgbt family is not just one shade of the Rainbow, but multiple and colours in between. It’s easy not to show the more visible groups that we support them and we all can change the attitudes of others together too.
If you believe it’s not right for a same sex couple to hold hands in public or kiss their partner goodbye, take a look around at how common it is for hertrosexual couples and ask yourself if your belief is equality to such a diverse group?
It’s been argued that it’s a political statement to hold hands walking down the street as a Gay couple, it’s true, if it’s forced just solely to make that point it is, but no more political than the oppressive’s that wish it not to happen, or the homophobic bullies who are aggressive in their ways.
The gay agenda was only born out of the fight against the hate agenda.
The truth, regardless of statistics, far right scare mongering and the homophobe in the pub on any given Saturday night is the world is a more colourful and diverse one.
Ask yourself why should that beauty be oppressed?
So whoever you are, next time you feel safe* and comfortable to do so, reach out to your partners hand and simply hold it, showing them the love and the world the beauty of your true colours.
*Safe means you need to be aware of your environment, country or location. This article is aimed at people who are in a safe environment but still feel reluctant because of past prejudices and is not intended to make anyone feel guilty for not wanting to be more visible but can not. However if you do feel safe and can do it is a bonus and one day it may benefit someone elsewhere with more visibility in our world, not just our country.