In one word, yes.
As we come up to the 2014 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, it’s important to consider that homophobia is still alive and well, and not just overseas – it can be closer to home than you think.
“I don’t mean to be racist, BUT..”
Any sentence with this preface is likely to be extremely racist. It’s much the same when it comes to talking about acts, ideals and members of the LGBTIQ community.
And as anyone with a brain would know, excusing yourself before saying something offensive doesn’t make it any less offensive. For example a comment such as “I’m not homophobic, but I hate gay people living in my neighbourhood” is just as homophobic as an outright statement that homosexuality is wrong.
Unfortunately, it’s an all too common scenario. People are aware that homophobia is looked down on and disrespectful, so they wrap their rude comments in a blanket of necessary formalities claiming that they have no problems with gay people – which certainly doesn’t make it ok.
One of the biggest changes we need to see if homophobia is going to be a thing of the past is a change in attitude; so pull your friends, coworkers and family up when they start a sentence with “I’m not being homophobic, BUT…”
Living Behind Closed Doors
Another big issue that faces LGBTIQ people is public pressure to remain discreet, because for some reason many people who claim to be ok with this community would prefer that they aren’t “forced to witness it” on a daily basis.
In a perfect world, no one would think or look twice at two women kissing at a bus stop, a tv ad showing a family with two fathers or a government form on which someone had circled both male and female.
Yet it just doesn’t seem to be like that, wish as we might. There continues to be a stigma surrounding anything LGBTIQ and whether it is sheer curiosity or a more sinister disapproval, it needs to be addressed.
A Dark Past
The act of homosexual sex wasn’t legalised in some parts of Australia until the 1990’s – the decade in which I was born. It seems totally unbelievable to me such outright discrimination was totally acceptable in Australia just 20 years ago.
While we’ve come some way in terms of legislation, the progress is still slow – it was only in 2010 that same sex couples were first allowed to adopt together in NSW and this beautiful, heart felt act of love is still denied to couples in Queensland, Victoria, Northern Territory and South Australia.
Marriage equality remains a hot topic, fuelled by religious propaganda. The real issue here is that marriage isn’t religious for many people – it’s a personal commitment to the person you love, made official. As Macklemore so eloquently put it:
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it
So what can you do? Explain to your kids that parents can be any mixture, support political acceptance of LGBTIQ equality and above all, be educated, respectful and always open minded.