I think I have always known I wasn’t 100% straight. I remember watching programmes when I was younger and only really paying attention to the girls and thinking they were pretty or I would ‘fancy’ women on TV more than men. I used to watch Strictly Come Dancing and not look at the men dancers at all really, I still don’t. When I started to realise this I began questioning why I thought like this; am I gay? This question has always played on my mind, I wasn’t sure if I was a lesbian or bisexual.
I know that I’m one of the really lucky ones, and not all parents are as accepting as mine. So many kids are rejected and shunned by their parents for their sexuality. 24% of the homeless youth in the UK are LGBT+. The main reasons so many young, gay people are homeless is due to parental rejection, abuse from within the family and also aggression. There are many shelters up and down the UK but they’re not always easily accessible. Many charities have been set up to help fund shelters and get more LGBT+ youth off the streets and in to a safe environment, including: The Albert Kennedy Trust.
|Rob Stothard—Getty Images|
In some places LGBT+ people still aren’t even treated like human beings. Being gay is illegal in 72 countries. That is a huge amount of countries. And in 8 countries gay people can face the death penalty. Can you imagine being sentenced to death just for being in love? It’s madness. Besides facing death, gay people can also end up with a 15 year prison sentence in some countries. In 2011 Radio 1 DJ, Scott Mills – an openly gay man – travelled to the African country, Uganda to document the way gay people are treated. At that time a gay person could face 14 years in prison. Many people tried to put forth the death penalty although this was changed to life in prison in 2014. During Mills’ time in Uganda he met with anti-gay preachers and also gay people who are in hiding. If caught these people could be sent to prison, or even beaten to death in the street. The documentary is truly eye-opening. I found a version of it on Youtube which I’ll link here. Go check it out if you have a chance. I asked a group of young LGBT+ people whether they ever feel the need to hide their sexual identity and every single one of them said yes. 100% said they feel the need to hide who they are. That is so incredibly saddening.
80% of LGBT+ people who have experience a hate crime due to their sexuality didn’t report it to the police. Young people are also the least likely to report a hate crime because they feel that the authorities don’t take their issues seriously. Seems to be a reoccurring situation that LGBT+ people aren’t taken seriously. Youtuber Timmy Timato (23) made a video 3 years ago talking about a homophobic attack him and his boyfriend experienced in a shopping mall in America. In the video Timmy said that him and his partner were on an ascending escalator sharing a kiss, and on the descending escalator was a man who then started to shout homophobic comments at them. ‘I’m glad we were on different escalators and safe because I don’t know what would’ve happened, he seemed so angry.’ Timmy also mentions that the situation was ‘traumatising’ because they ‘didn’t feel safe’. Although Timmy says that he is all for PDA, 36% of LGBT+ people said they don’t feel comfortable walking in public while holding their partners hand. I asked in a poll if people have ever felt discriminated against by a stranger and 79% answered yes. Attacks on LGBT+ people surge almost 80% in the UK over the last four years.
LGBT+ representation is slowing increasing – not as much as I would like, but it is happening – in film and TV. According to GLAAD, of the 125 film released in 2016 only 23 (18.4%) contained characters who identified as LGBT+. That isn’t a great amount really. Although Hollywood is letting us down with representation, there are quite a few shows on Netflix with some pretty awesome LGBT+ characters including: Orange is the New Black, and Sense 8. Gay men are the most represented by a significant margin of 83%. Lesbian characters have increased since 2016 by 35%, and bisexual representation has increased by 13%. Even though LGBT+ representation is increasing, it’s only really increasing for white people. The racial diversity of LGBT+ characters has actually decreased, which is very disappointing. A record breaking number of LGBT+ characters appeared on US TV in 2017. 6.4% of characters on broadcast prime-time TV identified as LBGT+, with 77% of them being white. There is also more discussion about being LGBT+ with celebrities now too as more of them are coming out. Loads of A-List celebrities are openly gay and also fight for gay rights, using their social media platforms to spread information. Open LGBT+ celebrities include: David Bowie, Laverne Cox, Amandla Stenberg, Stephen Fry, Angelina Jolie, Halsey and so many more!
Troye Sivan, an Australian Youtuber and singer, used his platform in 2013 to come out as gay to his followers and fans. He did this because he thought he owed it to his fans, but also because he wanted to inspire his younger fans who are questioning themselves. In his video he talks about how he watched so many ‘coming out videos’ that inspired him and gave him the courage, so he wanted to do the same. ‘But this is not something I’m ashamed of, and it’s not something anyone should have to be ashamed of.’ The video has 7.8 million views and has a collection of really nice comments of support and also people sharing their own experiences.
I’m 20 years old and I only really came to a solid conclusion that I am bisexual about a year ago; I spent 19 years questioning my own identity. I’ve never truly come out to everyone in my family either. Although I’m so certain of myself I still get nervous and worried about how people will react to me. Unfortunately, I don’t think those feelings will ever go away, maybe they’ll slowly minimise, but then again maybe not. From all the people I asked in my poll, 81% of them were under 21, and 67% of them knew they weren’t heterosexual before they turned 13 years old.
LGBT+ rights are something I feel very strongly about, and as someone who is a part of the LGBT+ community it affects me, and quite a few of my friends. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or whatever you identify as then please know that you aren’t alone and there are always people you can talk to:
Thank you for reading,