Barbara Gittings, the American activist who took on the US government on behalf of the LGBTQ population once said – “Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.” A celebrated woman, Barbara was one of the countless activists who was pivotal in laying the foundation of the modern Pride Movement and as the Time magazine quotes, ‘who understood that before marginalized people can prevail, they must understand that they are worthy and that they are not alone.’
50 years have passed since the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan and we keep wondering how far we have come and how far we still have to go. The world today is divided into 2 parts – the progressive world where there is no active or passive discrimination against the LGBTQ community, and the conservative world where either there is only a superficial acceptance (because the law requires it), or simply a rejection of members of the community. With a massive LGBTQ population residing in the ‘conservative world’, the long battle that kicked off at Manhattan is far from won. And it is not going to be easy, as the opponents are politics, religions, families, superstitions and misinformation.
The horror stories of the treatment of members of LGBTQ community in the conservative world are not unknown to anyone. The forces who reject the community respond with violence, imprisonment and even public executions. This begs the question, how can the people fight this tyranny and show solidarity for the community? The only weapon that we have at our disposal is Education – to learn about the community including the historic civil rights movement that has enabled millions to finally live without fear.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) describes an individual’s sexual preference or gender identity. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of ourselves. These should never lead to discrimination or abuse. Yet, in many areas, LGBTQ individuals still find it hard to get admission in school or college, get a job or find a home. They are still not accepted in politics and in turn any political support they receive is frowned upon. Being an LBGTQ individual is even labelled by some as a mental disorder, or simply a sin – a crime against God.
The progressive world shares a responsibility with the rest of the world to empower the voices that support the rights for the LGBTQ community. The nations that have already achieved equality can become harbingers of change and a hope for the community in the conservative world. Acceptance and acknowledgement of change by majority is always the way to go to shift the Zeitgeist. The forces of politics, religion, family and superstitions are bound to crumble in face of this change.
The LGBTQ Community deserves the same rights as of any ordinary citizen in a country. Respect for each other’s rights is supreme humanity. This June, take Pride in supporting human rights of the LGBTQ individuals by educating yourself and others around you. Get rid of the stigma that is associated with being an LGBTQ individual and share the experience of ‘coming out’ of the hold of misinformation and prejudice. In the celebration of the Pride Month 2021, let us all show our solidarity with the individuals who are unable to live their lives normally because of fear, and accept and respect their preferences and identity like that of any other citizen.
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