In the aftermath of the homophobia debate, each and every one of us needs to campaign in our own way for equal marriage, says Rob Buchanan.
With all the recent focus in the news around homophobia and marriage equality, it seems we are really going to be in the spotlight this year. I’ve been asked more questions by my straight friends in the last few weeks than ever about the whole thing. I think it’s something we’re going to need to get used to.
As the referendum on same-sex marriage nears, we’re going to see and hear a lot of hurtful and disheartening things. A lot of intolerant, and dare I say homophobic people will crawl out from under rocks to throw their two cents in, as the majority get to decide whether this minority deserve the same rights as them. Our continued visibility is vital, so we can meet their arguments with the simple truth.
It’s fantastic that straight people are starting to wake up to the facts surrounding inequality in this country. What I wonder is, when the gays will wake up?
Have you every suffered homophobic abuse? Have you ever felt afraid? Do you care that civil partnership is not the same as civil marriage?
With a referendum on the horizon, we must prepare the groundwork for a win now. We can’t leave it just up to the gay rights activists. We must become activists, each and every one of us, in our own ways.
We must be proud, and visible. We must learn what tools of oppression are being used against us and argue against them, stating our own humanity. We must make sure when straight people see, or hear of someone being harassed for being gay, that they think twice and realise that we are their brothers, their sisters, their mates and colleagues.
We must get political. We must join a political parties and be vocal, or seek out gay rights groups we have an affinity with, to give them our support, and receive theirs.
Within our families, workplaces and communities, we must be proud ambassadors for ourselves. It is only when people associate a gay person with a real human being that eyes begin to open to how unjust unequal treatment is.
We must come out to our TDs, and ask them what way they’re going to vote in the referendum, and what they’re going to say to their constituents about it. We must protest outrages and slurs against us. We must increase our presence this way on the national stage.
Pride marches are one of the greatest examples of how visibility is vital to remind the rest of the country, as much as remind ourselves, that we are here and that we have voices. These connections we make with each other at Pride reinforce the reality that we are not alone, that there is a queer community, and we are strong together.
Homophobes need ignorance of real gay lives in order to peddle their stereotypes and lies. It’s very easy paint a lazy caricature of the queer as the carless hedonist with questionable morals, incapable of parenthood or social responsibility. Or the vapid pantomime queen with neither the intelligence nor the drive to fight for rights. Yes, we certainly have examples of every stereotype, but we are getting up every morning and going to school and work, we are raising babies and caring for sick relatives.
Justice is on our side. We must make sure our voices are heard and our faces are seen. Those people who through indifference or malice would deny us equality require our silence and our complicity in order to repress us. We must give them neither.
© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.