The horrific massacre that occurred on Saturday night at Pulse in Orlando, Florida has stayed with me all weekend. I confess to a vested interest I am the mum of an LGBTQI teen.
I felt compelled to write this following Owen Jones walking out of a Sky News interview about the morning papers. Although he was clearly distressed he has a point: The way we talk about LGBTQI issues sucks.
The Independent for instance ran a story about about her son’s last messages to her before he was tragically shot by the gunman. In it they make it clear she knew her son was gay. Rhetoric like this reinforced the misguided notion that being lesbian, gay, bisexuality etc is some how a dirty secret, something to be hidden.
Many struggle to come out for fear of what family and friends will say, despite it being a natural and normal part of the spectrum of human sexuality.
In 2012 Stonewall did some research on mental health in lesbian, gay and bisexual teens, it showed 55% experience homophobic bullying in British schools. From a young age we are teaching these people, these human beings our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, family and friends that they are less than, that there is something wrong with them.
Saturday night was confirmation of a fear many LGBTQI people carry with them, that they can and will be persecuted for who they are. The media responds to this in ways that seek to silence the voices of this understandably shocked and frightened community. Presumably for fear of upsetting the morals and sensibilities of others.
Whilst I am supportive of religious and moral freedom it does not give us the right to force our ideologies onto others to make them conform to our view of the world, nor should it be an excuse to close our eyes and minds to the suffering of others. They are human beings who are a part of our wider communities whether they go to your school, yoga class or work with you.
I want to live in a world where no one has to come out, where no group lives in fear, where no one is bullied, and people’s sexualities are not considered a reason to hate or hurt them, but that is work for another day. Today I want to say to this community who are suffering, I cried with you, I hurt with you, I lit a candle for those who are lost; because love is the only thing that will drive out hate.