In or out of the shadows

[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]or decades LGBT rights were struggled for by millions of people and have become somewhat fashionable in recent years. But fashion can change on a dime.

The LGBT community has won many victories and a real positive change has occurred in the last decades. And of course a large part of the general public has changed it’s views mainly due to education and open debate. To realise that you just have to look back at middle of the last century when homosexuality was illegal in many countries of the western world.

I personally experienced this shift in Iceland as the first executive director of the Reykjavík Gay Pride, for a decade, with the constantly growing number of public participation in the Reykjavík Pride Parade each year. Since the public opinion turned in our favor and legal rights became secured many assumed that a final victory had been won in the struggle for equal rights. They started asking if the Pride Parade was still a necessity. My answer then was and still is the same: Yes.

You see, human society is not constant. LGBT rights and the positive public acceptance we’ve experienced in recent years is a little bit like fashion. In the end of last century and the beginning of this one being anti-gay became un-fashionable. Sadly some people were just following a trend and those with prejudice were clever enough to hide their emotions and hatred to fit in with the majority.

Generations come and go and therefore the general public needs to be educated about past struggles and gay rights, like human rights in general, all the time because they can slip away in an instant, giving away years and years of fighting.

The right to be ourselves

As a LGBT community we also need to remind ourselves what the fight for equal rights is really about.

In the beginning of the Pride movement LGBT people were fighting for the right to be themselves. The fight was not about simulating into the straight community. But during the last few years it seems that for many the battle has turned into just that. A right to get married in churches or other houses of faith, to adopt children and so on. To be just like straight people. We even hear more and more LGBT people say: “Do you always have to talk about being gay or show it so much?” Just like many straight people before, who thought they were liberal, for instance said to or about drag queens: “Is it necessary to flaunt it so much?”

The answer is: Yes. We do need to talk about “it” and show “it”.

Before victories were won and before the notion changed in our favor drag queens were in the forefront of our fight, taking the punch and violence when more straight looking gays or clear closet cases were hiding in the shadows. Nothing justifies the demand that the people who fought in the frontline for decades, took the abuse and were even killed, should disappear quietly into the shadows and be grateful for having the right of being just like the „normal people“.

  • Being gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual is normal.
  • Being a gay queen is normal.
  • Being a butch lesbian is normal.
  • Being a straight looking gay man or woman is normal.
  • Just like it is normal to be a heterosexual man or a woman with two kids.

Millions of LGBT people did not fight for equal human rights to be simulated into the straight or “square” society. They fought for our rights to be who we are without having our lives and livelihood threatened, to have all the same general human rights given to the straight community, but still and most importantly, the right to be ourselves.

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