Ok, I’m just going to come right out and say it: sometimes, the world sucks. Actually, scratch that: a lot of times, the world sucks. But if there’s one thing that I’ve been noticing a fair bit recently, it’s that the world especially sucks if you’re LGBTQIA+.
I’m an optimist. I’ve described myself as always having my head in the clouds, and I will admit that I like to pretend that the world isn’t really that bad (Side note: it is!). And while I can absolutely recognize that the world actually isn’t as bad as it has been in the past for the LGBTQIA+/Queer community, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Which brings me to the reason behind this post, and the reason why I’ve decided to create this new blog. Queering the Mainstream is an idea that’s been growing in my head for a little over a month now, and that idea is this: despite how far the queer community has come, there is still a lot that needs to be done.
Lately, a few instances have really jumped out at me that really drive home this point.
First, there was the horrible shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead and 53 injured. It is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, and even though I’m Canadian, this one really upset me and I wrote about it on my other blog. This was an attack on the entire LGBT community. You can read all of my thoughts there, but gist of it is this: even in 2016, being out and proud in this world is still a dangerous act, it can still get you killed. (For more on the Orlando shooting, click here and here.)
Then there is Donald Trump and the U.S. Republican party and their stance on LGBT issues. To quote Kira Lerner at Think Progress:
To some, the Republican Party is still unwelcoming to LGBT voices. The official platform, finalized this week, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, rejects what it calls the Obama administration’s redefinition of sex discrimination laws to include transgender individuals, and says parents of LGBT children should be allowed to force their children into conversion therapy. Committee members even rejected an attempt to include language condemning foreign terrorist attacks against the LGBT community.
It’s really sad, but the Republican Party makes the Conservative Party of Canada look like a bunch of New Democrats. Their party, and their leader Donald Trump, are the worst possible option for America.
Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased, is a survivor of conversion therapy. He wrote an excellent piece for Vice on how an America with Donald Trump and the Republicans in power will signal more LGBT children forced to undergo conversion therapy. As most sensible people know, conversion therapy doesn’t work. The Human Rights Campaign has some excellent information on the lies and dangers associated with this practice.
America may be bad, but it’s actually not the worst (for now). There are over 75 countries in the world where it is actually illegal to be LGBT, many of which carry a death sentence for those who are caught. I dream of a world where everyone is free to be whoever they want. But sadly, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if that will always be just a dream.
I am lucky, and I am privileged, and I recognize that. Canada is not perfect, which I will get to in a minute, but we are much more progressive on LGBT rights and issues than America and lots of other places in the world, and I’m thankful to live in this country. A country where same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide for over a decade, where the federal Conservative party recently removed the definition of marriage from their official policy because they’ve recognized that it’s not something they need to fight anymore, where our Prime Minister promises to do more for trans rights, unlike in the US where you get all those stupid bathroom bills, like the one in North Carolina, which actually can increase the risk of suicide amongst transgender people. Our kick-ass PM, Justin Trudeau, also became the first sitting Canadian Prime Minister to march in a pride parade earlier this month, and back in June the Pride Flag was raised on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the first time ever.
There is still work to be done in Canada too, though. Back in May, Canada’s only clinic that provides sex reassignment surgeries suffered over $700-thousand in damages from an arson attempt, the “gay day” at Canada’s Wonderland was recently cancelled after a homophobic incident where two men were told they weren’t allowed to hug by a park staffer, and then there is the issue of MSM blood donation in Canada.
Starting in 1977, Canadian men who had any sexual contact with other men were banned from donating blood. Then, in 2013, that policy was changed to a five-year ineligibility period, which is completely unrealistic and just nonsense to ask gay, bisexual, etc. men to refrain from sexual activity for five years to donate blood. In its platform for the 2015 Federal Election campaign, the Liberal party promised they would end the MSM donation ban, saying, “We will bring an end to the discriminatory ban that prevents men who have had sex with men from donating blood”. Yet, it was recently announced that the deferral is being shortened but not ended. Instead of following through on their promise to end the ban entirely, the Liberals are instead shortening the ineligibility period to one year. Better, but not far enough.
Needless to say, all of the things mentioned above have been swirling around in my head for quite some time and I’ve decided to create a new blog that focuses on all things LGBTQIA+. Queering the Mainstream will be an outlet for expression when I feel like writing about them.
My other blog, Scattered Thoughts, will remain active for when I want to write about anything else, but Queering the Mainstream will focus entirely on all things queer. I will use it for book, movie, TV and music reviews when I feel like something is just so good that I need to write about it. I will definitely use it for social commentary on issues like those already discussed in this post, and on any others that I feel like talking about going forward.
The name Queering the Mainstream came from a Tegan and Sara interview I saw back in May, and it really stuck with me. As I mentioned above, and in my post on the Orlando shooting on my other blog, even in 2016, being out and proud in this world is still a dangerous act, it can still get you killed. Or harassed, injured, bullied, tormented, teased, etc.
As the tagline for this site says, my goal here is to make the world just a little more gay, one day at a time. I long for a world when there is no more homophobia, transphobia, hatred, discrimination, etc. of the queer community. But I know that day is still way, way into the future and there is still a long way to go before it gets here.
And that is the point to this blog, to give me a place to say all I feel like saying, to stand up and shout my gayness from proverbial internet rooftop, to be loud and proud and to keep shouting until the world gets better or until I can’t shout any longer.
To my post on Orlando one last time: “We won’t be silenced, because that’s what people like the shooter want. That’s what people who are filled with hatred want. They want us to be silent. They want us to be afraid. They want us to slip into the shadows. They want us to return to the closets we came out of.
But we won’t be silenced. We won’t be afraid. We will be loud and proud, and days like Orlando will only make us louder and prouder.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this.