As a society we are closer to equality in the UK that we ever have been before. Don’t misconstrue my words here, I’m not saying that we have reached equality by no means but it’s a lot fucking better than it was 30 years ago. However, by making these comments I feel like I really should check my privileges:
- I’m British
- I’m white
- I’m young
- I’m from London
- I’ve had a decent education (in the 3rd year of a degree)
- From a working class background, so money has been tight but there’s been money
- Although I identify as gender queer, I am male.
From listing these privileges that I’ve been born with it tints what I said in the first paragraph with rose. If I was black or white I’m almost certain I would have face more homophobia, especially internalised. If I wasn’t young, I probably would have been irrelevant and invisible by now. If I was from a small town in the countryside I most likely would have faced a lot of homophobic bullying in school. If I hadn’t of had the education I’ve had I could of turned out to be a highly ignorant person (who ironically seem to end up in positions of power lots of the time).
In me saying all of this, as someone who categorises myself as gay, do I feel like society has accepted homosexuality? No.
If I was to get into a relationship would I dream of holding their hand while walking down the street? If I was in Canal Street or Soho yes, but other than that no. I have seen homosexual walk around London, Manchester and other cities holding hands and it fills me with joy. But then I look at the people walking past them and the stares they get, the whispers and comments people make slaps me back into the horror of reality that they are apparently some sort of freak show.
Being in safe-spaces is great, I/we/you are able to be ourselves and show off our sexuality without judgment that it is wrong. That’s great, but feeling out of place and critiqued for being gay in non-safe-space places shouldn’t be accepted because we have those few safe-spaces.
This just proves the importance of safe-spaces here in the UK. Sadly, we continue to see some of Britain’s best-loved and popular LGBT venues shut down or face closure. Despite huge outcry from the community and its friends and families. Lots of the time these places close without a flutter of an eyelash from outside of our community as for them they don’t see its importance. More and more safe-spaces shut meaning there are less places for the LGBT community to feel safe an comfortable with their sexuality.
Society (whether that’s through the media, friends, family, teacher’s opinions on homosexuality) has put this idea of shame deep inside of me. Again I don’t want it to sound like I’m ashamed of being gay, not at all. I’m talking about how society teaches us from a young age that man and woman should be together and anything other than that isn’t normal. From a child we are brainwashed into thinking like that, even though when we’re older that’s not the case, there is something deep in our (my) subconscious that has some sort of friction.
Take me when I came out, my mother had always said that she didn’t have a problem with gay people (a problematic comment anyway) but after I came out, me being gay or seeing anyone was avoided talking about- naturally that would cause some kind of problem in me. So in certain situations or places I try (and probably fail) to act more straight, to look more masculine or to sound more like a man. This is called hegemonic sexuality” – the act of changing one’s behavior to fit in.
Paradoxically, this can sometimes be even more pronounced in gay safe places. I’m not sure whether that’s because I’m trying to impress the people I’m around or trying not to be judged badly but both reasons come from a place camp/femininity isn’t attractive in the gay world. This internalised homophobia is something that really needs to be addressed within the gay community. Camp isn’t wrong, just like masculinity isn’t.
There’s a different between being comfortable within yourself and your sexuality, and then with being conformable with your sexuality within society. My hope is that things change for the younger generations and that at some point what I do with a person who I like makes no difference to what you do with your life.