Mike Mark is the creator of the LGBT+ blog QuestionMark – here he shares its inspiration and hopes for the future.
While abroad, I was out with friends, queueing for a gay venue when I saw a group of gay lads singing something in their local language. It all looked kinda cute, but then two guys selling drinks on the street snapped back at them. I could tell the two guys were upset. Unable to understand the language, I asked my friends what the gay guys were singing. They told me “They were making fun of those fellas, singing, ‘go back to your own country.’”
I was appalled. I couldn’t believe members of a minority could act in such a vile way towards people trying to make a living. Are we so used to being oppressed that we are blind to the oppression we ourselves can carry out?
Just a few days later, I read an article on how some LGBT+ people lean towards far-right and anti-LGBT+ political parties. I was shocked. Are we growing to be the tyrants that (used to) torture and limit us? Have we forgotten, or have we never known, the thirst of the oppressed to be respected, accepted and cherished? Was I expecting too much thinking that members of my community should be the last to be disrespectful to other minorities and see past their own privileges?
Something had to be done, but I didn’t know how I could be part of a solution. I am an expert of nothing. What could I do?
As a designer I have learnt to never blame the customer, I always blame the design. I believe we strive for the best even when we are clearly at our worst. But how can we learn?
This is how the LGBT+ blog QuestionMark was born. I had no answers, but I had a hell of a lot of questions. I thought by asking people for their personal stories, opinions and experiences that we would all get to learn and understand things we don’t encounter in our day-to-day interactions.
Initially, I thought of asking questions on Facebook or Twitter and have people reply. I knew that this wouldn’t work, I don’t want anyone to spend time fighting on social media. My plan was to create a space where people could share privately and, if needed, anonymously, their sincere and unfiltered opinions. I hoped those same people would come back to read what everyone else had to say and listen, even if they didn’t particularly agree. So that’s what I do – I ask a question, I gather replies, and then I post all the answers on QuestionMark.blog.
Mostly, the answers are enough. Sometimes, I share my opinion and share my past experiences, and I love to share the stories that cry out for a longer read.
In every story or opinion, I am not looking to answer what is right or wrong. QuestionMark is about expanding my echo chamber, seeing what’s different and helping me create well-rounded opinions. In the past year, I have learnt more than a lot. I see QuestionMark now as a Masters programme on queerness, and I hope some of you will agree.
Past QuestionMarks have included: “Why are we Proud?”, “Are we being exploited?”, “Do fetishes and corporations have a place in our Pride Parades?”, “Should we travel to anti-LGBT+ destinations?”
Upcoming questions will investigate further our experiences with coming out, substance abuse, HIV, ageism in the community, and the situation for LGBT+ families and relation. Join the conversation and hear what your community have to say.
Do you want to share your story or participate? Visit the LGBT+ blog QuestionMark here.
This story was due to appear in our April issue of GCN’s print magazine. We have taken the decision to pause on the publishing cycle for the moment as we feel it’s the safest and wisest move in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like to support GCN from as little as €1.99 per month, please click here.
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