Monday, 29 June 2015

After #SCOTUS

After a weekend of what can only be described as euphoria for the LGBT+ community across the United States and the World, many are now reflecting and asking what's next in the continuing fight for equality. Many say I'm unrealistic when I say same sex marriage can reach as far as Middle Eastern countries, but to those people I point out that many would have considered it to be unrealistic for Texas 30 years ago, yet here we are.

The first same sex couple were able to get married in Dallas just hours after the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage was a right across the entire United States. Jack Evans, 85 and George Harris, 82 had to wait over half a century, until they were finally allowed the same rights as a heterosexual couple. We should look at these two men with admiration and respect, young LGBT+ especially need to respect them and be thankful, because without the older generation we would not have half the rights we have today, visionaries like Harvey Milk paved the way for SCOTUS, and for that I will be forever thankful.

Sometimes I firmly believe that the true meaning of Pride is often lost, seen as more of a 'carnival' than a day to highlight the ongoing inequality facing LGBT+ people around the World. I for one, believe the message has somewhat been lost, but days like June 26 show the true meaning and I certainly think those attending Pride in London on Saturday would have waved those flags with even more Pride, on the day after such a huge victory for LGBT+ rights.

But now we reflect on the ongoing fight for equality, yes the decision in the United States was a massive step and hopefully more nations will follow. But the fight for same sex marriage continues in countries like Australia and Northern Ireland, despite the Republic of Ireland voting yes in a referendum, Northern Ireland remains in the past, and campaigners there are now using the decision in the Republic, to shout even louder for the same rights.

Then we look to hateful organisations such as ISIS and countries like Saudi Arabia who still firmly believe that LGBT+ people deserve nothing less than death. Match that with the treatment of those attending Istanbul Pride over the weekend, those attending were dispersed inhumanely with tear gas and water canons, with police going even further and using rubber bullets to disperse a peaceful demonstration. And lets of course not forget Russia, with there so called "gay propaganda" law, preventing things such as Pride parades taking place and promoting hatred towards LGBT+ in the country, backed up with continuing anti-gay rhetoric from Vladimir Putin. So while America makes progress, elsewhere there is a long way to go.

The power of people is what will continue to reduce incidents of brutality and hatred towards LGBT+ and give hope to those still suffering discrimination. Just looking at people on Facebook and Twitter changing their profile pictures to rainbow colours filled me with such Pride, I literally shed a tear on Friday evening, it was just incredible to see. Not only LGBT+ people but our heterosexual allies, standing with us in solidarity, fully supportive of our rights.

I think there can sometimes be this false sense that only LGBT+ can celebrate Pride, that's completely wrong. We need the support of those who don't identify as LGBT+ just as much. A couple of years ago I did a radio show for a local station in Sunderland, England, each week Kieron Brady, a former professional footballer, turned equality expert, joined me in the studio, talking about LGBT+ rights, in particular the anomaly of the lack of openly gay footballers. Kieron, a straight man was just as passionate about LGBT+ rights as I was and regularly attends Pride events.

In conclusion, lets continue to celebrate SCOTUS, but lets not let this be a time to become complacent, the fight is far from over, so after SCOTUS lets shout louder, until it can be declared that same sex marriage is not just an American right, or a French right, or Puerto Rican right, or a British right, but that it's a right WORLDWIDE, that should be the ultimate goal, however impossible it may seem, as Harvey Milk once said - "Hope will never be silent".

-Sam

No comments:

Post a Comment