South West regional rep, Dorion Griffiths, reflects on how anti LGBT+ attitudes can continue to affect LGBT+ people in today’s society.
Recently I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a video online. Panti Bliss, an Irish drag queen, was talking to an audience about how the world is homophobic. It really struck a chord with me when she said how she’d never, comfortably, held a partner’s hand in public.
That resonated with me. I too have never held a partners hand in public due to being highly aware of the possible consequences. My mind then started to wander to my past.
I’ve been out since I was 16. That’s 30 years, yes 30 years, and I’ve never held a lovers hand. Thirty years of fear of public displays of affection (PDAs), even when I am in a ‘safe area’ I am alert to who could be about and it’s never a naturally comfortable action.
Now I grew up with Thatcher’s Section 28, so during my school years my sexuality was brushed under the carpet because I was not wanted. I was bullied and the teachers were scared to help because of her hateful law – adults scared to come to the help of a child being beaten, bruised and tormented, crazy right?
I personally think this is where most of the damage was done. If I can be beaten at school where they only think I’m gay, imagine what would happen out in the real world if they knew.
To this day, when I see two men holding hands, even I notice it and I sort of envy them. They are normally younger than me (hence my belief that Thatcher did this to me) and it is always in a big city. Even on the forward looking soaps, it’s a snatched peck, a glance, a touch to the shoulder. None of them hold hands, casually, with no reaction.
So now my brain questions the logic. I have legal rights at work, I am married, and if I’m punched it’s a hate crime. So why do I still have this fear? It’s simple, our community have been slowly knocking on the doors of the powerful and showing them why we don’t deserve the hate. The powers that be finally agreed and protected us in law however this is where the problem lies.
We, along with our allies, have created a change with reasoned arguments, however we have not had these ‘reasoned arguments’ with our neighbours or with the general public. They get their news from tabloids (who hated us for years), from soap operas, football terraces or on a Sunday in their place of worship. These are not places where we are fairly represented, and sometimes places where we are actively vilified. They do not show us as members of our communities, congregations or of families - people who are just people.
So why is society like this? Panti and I agree – it’s all about the bedroom (specifically anal sex). This is where minds often instantly, or sometimes indirectly, go when they see two men holding hands. How do we lift their minds out of that place? It’s a difficult doctrine to fight when it’s taught with constant but sometimes subtle language.
If we can stop people seeing the sex in sex-uality we will be in a safer place. Until we do, we are a million miles away from real, total, inclusion.
For me, this is the fight we now have. We’ve largely (though not entirely) won the legal one, now it’s time to win the social one.
So what I am saying is that we still have societal LGBT+ phobia. We have fought for and won massive advances in our legal rights but that’s just stuff on paper. We now have to destroy the LGBT+ phobia. The real fear out there that leads to us being punched, kicked and even murdered.
Sorry to tell you folks but while we may have won many battles, the war is far from over.