Sunday, 10 September 2017 14:29

Blog Entry 2

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So we had to rewrite our blog entries for a different audience. The person I got was: Jo, 58 years old, female, full-time council worker, 2 kids (1 at uni, 1 graduated and now in work, both married to partners with degrees), married, husband works away, watches boxsets. So here's my rewritten blog:

With it being 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, it seems a prudent time to start this blog.
However, because all my experiences as a member of the LGBT+ community are post-millenial (so I have no idea what it's like to be illegal to be gay), that is the time period I will concentrate on. 
I came out as a gay man in December 1999. It felt like I was taking my life in my hands - gay people were routinely outed in the press and it never ended well for them - but I feared being blackmailed. So, to circumvent that possibility, I felt the best thing was to come out. Not that I told my employers - it was still entirely legal for employers to sack their staff for being gay - but everyone else knew.
My parents took it better than expected, as did my brother, but my uncle felt the need to write to tell me I was a pervert. Some friends didn't take it as well as I hoped either. They'd find excuses not to meet up with me. A friend being worried that people would think I was his boyfriend was possibly the most honest anyone ever got about that. As much as I told myself I was better off without them, it hurt to be so coldly rejected. As did being sacked from my job because, seemingly, it was easier to make up a false accusation against me than deal with a homophobic employee who'd been with the company for 25 years. 
It wasn't all doom and gloom of course. I will probably remember to my dying day my first Pride. It was London and Holly Johnson singing The Power of Love is one of the rare moments in my life where I felt like I was ascending to heaven. Other such moments usually revolve around falling in love with my husband to be - including the time, 6 years later, we were allowed to have a civil partnership. Sadly, he didn't live long enough for us to turn that into a proper wedding (even if we'd wanted to). Sadly, his death showed me how cruel UK law could be against gay men and how much awareness training even those who wanted to help me, such as the registrar of his death, needed.
As well as experiencing life as a gay man, I've also experienced life as a Trans person. Even in the gay community, we aren't always welcome. As my husband put it once, the fight for Trans equality seems to be 20 years behind that of gay equality. 
I believe a large part of the blame for that lies with the media - but certainly not entirely with the right wing media; the left wing media can be just as bad. For example, in 2013 the coroner accused the media of contributing to the suicide of primary school teacher, Lucy Meadows, who had come out as Trans. The news group who broke that story was Trinity Mirror (parent group of The Daily Mirror). So you might find it ironic, as I do, that I was once employed by Trinity Mirror. After all, if they wanted a story about someone transitioning, they didn't exactly have far to look for one. I was in the office next door.   
Even though things can seem slow sometimes, I think it's without question that a lot has changed in the last 17 years. For some, the way things have changed may be bewildering - which may explain why there is resentment which now seems to be turning into a backlash. For example, homophobic hate crime rose by 147% in the wake of Brexit. So what real protection does the law offer even now after so much change? It certainly doesn't seem to be stemming the flow of casual prejudice, homelessness, or murder that is the daily reality of many in the LGBT+ community.
Nothing in the past 17 years has suggested to me that people don't care, though. So I don't believe the issue is indifference but ignorance... which is why I'm starting this blog. 
I hope you'll find it informative but, most importantly, interesting as I look at how the changes in UK law this millennium have helped drive this country towards LGBT+ equality.
My next blog post will be about Section 28, the law that forbade the teaching of 'the acceptability of homosexuality', and it's 2003 repeal. So do come back to find out why I have always refused to travel with Stagecoach, and once found bananas confusing. 
Key to Some of the Terminology Used in this Post:
Hate Crime Crime against person(s) for no perceived reason other than hatred
LGBT+ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans plus all other non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people
Cisgender Those whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth
Trans Those whose gender identity doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth plus persons, such as crossdressers and transvestites, who may wish to be associated with them
Crossdresser Person who wears clothes not conventionally associated with their own gender identity but may not necessarily wish to appear as a person with a gender identity opposite to their own
Transvestite Person who dresses so as to appear - but not necessarily identifies - as a person with a gender identity opposite to their own for any period of time but not typically 24/7

Further Reading:
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