What Does It Mean To Be LGBTQ+ In 2021?
To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity - Nelson Mandela
Coming out as Gay 20 years ago changed my life in everyway. It was a foundation in my mental health recovery and it was the start of my journey in learning and self-acceptance. No longer did I have to feel like the odd one out whilst pretending to be one of the boys and weirdly enough giving all that shit up meant I actually became one of the boys. I found myself.... my tribe and my family..... my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters
It's not always been easy though. I've lost friends because I was gay, I've been attacked for being a fag and to this day some people still think that you being LGBTQ+ is in someway "less" than being straight.
Here in the UK we've had gay marriage for nearly a decade but It’s only been six years since the United States legalized same sex marriage, and the world is a very different place than it was those six short years ago. In many ways, it’s hard to believe that it was only six years ago that same sex marriage was legalized in the U.S - LGBTQ acceptance in the U.S has made great strides since then, with 72% of American adults saying homosexuality should be viewed as acceptable by society in 2020, and those numbers generally trending upwards across the globe.
More and more LGBTQ characters are being seen in TV and movies, more LGBTQ politicians are being elected to office, nearly 1 in 6 members of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+, and RuPaul’s Drag Race is a household name - at a quick glance, in 2021, it seems pretty good to be gay.
.....there are of course caveats. For one, while LGBTQ+ acceptance has been reaching new heights in Western Europe, the Americas, and Australia and New Zealand, many other areas of the world aren’t so lucky. In large parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia homosexuality is still outright illegal - a total of 71 countries. In comparison, only 29 countries worldwide have legalized same sex marriage. Doubtlessly, there’s still a long way to go in terms of worldwide acceptance - and unfortunately, some countries actually seem to be moving backwards.
Poland has drawn some ire and scrutiny from the EU in recent years for its increasing attacks on LGBTQ people and their rights, including arresting LGBTQ+ activists. At one point, almost ⅓ of Polish cities had declared themselves “LGBT Ideology-Free Zones.” The current Polish president has also signed a “Family Charter” that pledges to block same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, and the teaching of LGBTQ+ issues in school.
Even in nations that are largely progressive when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, there have been some backslides when it comes to trans rights. Indeed, it seems as though in several countries where gay rights and general acceptance of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people is more or less seen as a done deal, the conversation has largely shifted to trans rights.
The UK, for instance, has become a battleground over trans rights, with some states in the US following suit. In many ways, issues of trans rights that had never really been acknowledged in either country have become mainstream topics of discussion in the latter half of 2020 and the first half of 2021.
Trans people in sports has also become a mainstream conversation, with trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s participation in the Olympics sparking a heated debate around this subject. Lawmakers in 27 US states have proposed legislation that would prohibit trans athletes from participating in the school sports matching their gender identity; many of these laws would also require athletes to provide proof of their biological sex if questioned. These issues will likely remain front and center in debates around LGBTQ+ rights for the rest of 2021, and likely even beyond.
It’s definitely not all doom-and-gloom - there have also been several steps forward for LGBTQ+ rights in 2021 so far. President Biden has undone most of the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation put in place by the Trump administration, including reversing the transgender military ban and a policy that allowed healthcare companies to deny coverage to gay and trans people. Angola and Bhutan both decriminalized homosexuality in February, and in May, India prohibited conversion therapy.
In short, being LGBTQ+ in 2021 can be a mixed bag. Many young LGBTQ+ people in more progressive countries enjoy freedoms and acceptance that wouldn’t have been dreamt of a mere 10 years ago, while in other areas of the world, LGBTQ+ people still struggle against everything from discrimination to physical abuse and even prison time due to their sexuality.
I'm hopeful though, I think we're going in the right direction so to all my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters I've got your back...... We're not going anywhere stay strong and keep fighting..... Cos it really is quite fabulous to be queer.
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Peace & Love