Saturday, 5 March 2016

Being LGBTQA+ In A Heteronormative World

Before we start I just want to say; it goes without saying that although I'm talking in the broader sense I'm obviously not speaking for everyone about every single experience.

My sexuality is something that, now at 22, I'm pretty confident in. At 16, 17 - even 18 - it was something I feared; I had grown up feeling like falling into an LGBTQA+ bracket would mean falling into a position in society that would leave me feeling excluded - and yet I have to say that I've been lucky because in the 7 or so years I've identified as gay, bisexual, pansexual or lesbian to myself (and it's varied as I've come through my teens) this has never been something that I've encountered. As much as LGBTQA+ rights and attitudes in the UK are still a fair distance from where they need to be, the fact is - we're a lot closer than many places in the world.

Katy and I are big on travelling and so we often joke about eloping and our conversations often run like this,
"What about x country?"
"Not sure, how do they feel about the gays?"
And it is just that, a joke at the attitudes that rule our lives and yet it's something we've never really felt like we needed to worry about until we'd looked at booking hotels on Trivago a few weeks ago. Extra filters brought up a "suitable for" option and, underneath this option, offered us hotels that were "gay friendly" - settled in amongst large groups, party people and pets as though by staying in the hotel we may somehow be lowering the tone for other people within the establishment, as though one of the first things we should consider prior to booking a holiday is a lifestyle choice as opposed to our sexuality, something we are born with. Growing up gay within the UK I almost feel robbed by the sense of security that's been bred into me, I almost feel fooled by the generation that I was born into - after all, gay marriage was only legalised within my adult lifetime and yet I've been lured into almost believing that I'm equal.

I know that I'm lucky, I'm under no qualms that I don't have it particularly bad - but the fact is, until the world accepts sexualities outside the traditional norm, I will always be held back by who I love. I cannot travel to Russia without hiding my love for Katy at the moment, Kenya is off bounds and in fact, should Katy and I choose to elope to get married then there are 81 countries that we will simply have to rule out as options. I bought Gay Is Okay soap from Lush, I speak out about inequality a lot and yet it was this tiny button on Trivago that made me realise just how lucky I am, and just how hard it still is to be LGBTQA+ in huge parts of a world that's still extremely heteronormative.

What leaves me reeling most is that in order to comfortably and safely enjoy a holiday I should have to declare my sexuality, stay in a sort of isolation with people who share similar qualities - and yet homophobic men and women can go about their lives without having to declare their crappy views or worry about the backlash that will come from them. I vote we rid the button for gay friendly and instead offer a shitty views friendly button so the rest of us can feel safe and they can live in their perfect isolation.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Is There Still A Sexuality Stigma?

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