For the majority of human existence, people have been very slow in adapting to different cultures, racial integration, gender equality, and orientation acceptance. It is amazing how in the last decade LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual) acceptance has increased rapidly when compared to the rest of human history. Even though there have always been men believed to be “queer” who have graced history such as Alexander the Great, Leonardo DaVinci, and Oscar Wilde. Within the last 30 years there has been big progress in society in terms of recognising gay rights; unfortunately full acceptance is far from reach as some countries have regressed.
The progress in society is acknowledging homosexuality has become mainstream. Whereas the topic was not allowed to be discussed amongst families, friends or on television, the idea is now out in the open. Ellen Degeneres is a publicly known lesbian and one of the most successful talk show hosts in the United States. Neil Patrick Harris is most known for his role as womanizing Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, and when Harris came-out fans of the show did not flinch an eyelid.
There have been more heterosexual celebrities, known as “allies”, who are not afraid to show their support for gay rights. Some of these celebrities include Macklemore, Beyoncé, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and USA President Barack Obama.
In mid-February, Juno actress Ellen Page came out in the Human Right Campaign Foundation’s Time to Thrive conference. This was received with praise for the young star’s bravery. Every single newspaper had written about her for weeks, talking about what a big deal this was. Is this progress? Yes and no. It is progress that a public figure can announce themselves to be gay and be lauded for it. It is not progress in terms of the amount of media coverage on her revelation. Homosexuality is stilled considered to be bizarre in society, which is why it is given so much attention. Society will fully accept LGBTs when people come out and nobody cares. In the same way that interracial relationships were considered to be a “big deal” but are now viewed as everyday occurrences.
Why did Page have to expose her orientation? Whose business is it to know her preferences other than friends and relatives? Page did not have to come out publicly. Her private life should be just that. However, due to the amount of young LGBTs who suffer from shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and fear of rejection, can look at this young girl’s heroics and be inspired to accept who they are. To accept that gay or not, everyone deserves their rights and that society cannot progress without this.
The suffering of the LGBT population can be pinpointed to two specific groups: religious groups and conservative politicians. It seems these two throughout history have had a witch hunt against LGBT , from public executions, to denying their rights, to imprisonment, to the death penalty in some countries. The worst thing about this bigotry is none of their arguments ever hold much water. Gay marriage is “unnatural” because two men or two women cannot have children. In that case, heterosexual couples who are infertile should have their marriage revoked, if reproduction is key to holy matrimony. Gay marriage is “corrosive” because it will ruin the sanctity of marriage. In that case, divorce should be illegal if marriage is so sacred. Their only support for their claims is that the Bible or the Koran said so.
Religious fanatics and conservative politicians have a strange way of picking their enemies. Christians, Muslims and conservative politicians are against abortions and homosexuals. But who has fewer abortions than homosexuals? One would think religion and homosexuals would go hand-in-hand. Here is an entire demographic guaranteed to never have abortions. Another gripe against homosexuals is that they are “promiscuous”, yet they are forbidden to get married and have monogamous relationships.
It is a shame to believe that many African and Asian countries at war with each other have one thing in common: homophobia. There are 38 African countries and 22 Asian countries (including Middle East) where homosexuality is illegal and some punishable by death. This year Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an Anti-Homosexuality Act, where any person considered to be homosexual can be sentenced to prison for life. This bill was met with a lot of controversy, as Uganda has made a regression in its society as opposed to the progress many Western countries have made in legalising gay rights. The good news is that the bill has received negative attention, as it implies many civilised countries are ready to correct the mistakes of our ancestors. Pressure is now placed on intolerant countries to change their ways. There is still hope for this world, as many countries have jumped on the gay-rights band wagon such as Canada, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Uruguay, France, Sweden, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Iceland, and South Africa.
Opinion By Ignacio Gatti