I’ve been quite careful curating a homophobia-free Facebook bubble.
So when I woke up to comments on my photo, my straight friend was tagged in, of us in the LGBT section of the People’s Vote march this weekend; I was disappointed, but not completely surprised.
‘Look at all them fag leftard remoaning cunts oh we didn’t win !!! Fucking pathetic!!!!’
I’m not sure if this person knows the history of the word fag, short for faggots. So let me inform them.
Faggots were the name of the kindling, that used to burn heretics, including Witches, in medieval Britain. Gay people, considered heretics at this time were largely hung for their crimes.
In short, the bundle of wood was used to kill people. So when even it is not used in the context of gay, LGBTI, and queer people, it is a word rooted in hate.
I understand much of the outburst was less at us or even LGBTI people. And it was instead focused on the Brexit impasse in the UK Parliament. But those words still hurt.
I also know its unadvisable to live in a complete social media bubble. So don’t get me wrong, I use Twitter and other social media to burst this and follow a mix of opinions.
But I think it’s fair to create some safe havens in an online world filled with hate?
I’m won’t name the person who made these comments, there is enough hate in the world. I also do not encourage crowd justice or trolling of any kind.
But, words have power and they must be used wisely.
How my friend talked them into an apology
My incredible friend Jamie has been there for me since I came out.
Spending much of our teen years together, he’s faced homophobic gossiping about his own identity, because he spent so much time with me.
So this outburst over the weekend following the pictures of us at the People’s Vote march, with over one million others, shouldn’t have been a surprise. But when Jamie told me about them, he was visibly angry and upset.
‘How can people still think its OK to say these things?’
Fortunately, he fine-tuned his anger and with a level head, presented some facts to this troll. Before he even told me about the comments he’d replied:
‘ You’re entitled to your opinion but that language is disgusting.
‘I was part of that crowd and proud to be. Proud to support my friends in the LGBT+ community. I’m more than happy to discuss politics with you but I find it far from funny that you still find it acceptable to band the word fag around.’
The troller responded, showing where his real frustration lies:
‘My anger was aimed at the political matter !!! I apologize for the use of the word fag. But the rest is a fucking joke and a damn right lack of respect to 52% that voted out.’
LGBTI peoples rights are at risk with Brexit
If you think that you or your friends sexuality or gender identity has little to do with what you stand to lose from Brexit a recent report ‘LGBTI & THE EU: The LGBTI Case for a People’s Vote’ may alarm you.
It shows how the UK’s LGBTI rights have not only been driven forward by the EU membership, but they are underwritten by it.
Without a UK constitution or EU protection to guarantee our rights as an LGBTI community and many of the senior UK politicians backing Brexit with openly homophobic and transphobic records – Brexit could be catastrophic for our community.
I know not everyone in the LGBTI community agrees, but 7 in 10 of them are now calling for a People’s Vote.
Like them, I am worried about my rights. I am concerned about access to my drugs for my disability which prevents hefty and expensive inpatient NHS stays. After Brexit, I’ll be more scared to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public as the police prepare for a surge in hate crimes.
And as this comment shows, with so much anger in the UK right now, people jump too quickly into bad habits.
The gay Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle saying a man lunged for his face in an attack after a Brexit debate just this month is another example.
We need conversation and compromise to break the deadlock
I support a People’s Vote because its a chance to have another say now we understand all the facts.
It allows Leavers to dismiss the lies made in the last referendum. But still, allow them to support leaving with a new understanding of how the economy will be detrimentally hit.
The vote gives young people, and the new generation who will be most affected by this decision, their first chance to have a say.
I support it because democracy is about voting. We vote in the UK in a general election Theresa May’s deal has had several votes and could have more.
What is different about another referendum?
Politicians have let us down, but people like my friend Jamie, are talking to those who they disagree with. They are finding a compromise. That gives me hope that people can help heal wounds.
I just hope politicians give us the chance to do this before they rip further wounds in our fragile communities.