Modern Age Homophobia

I’ve lived a fairly lucky life. I grew up in Western Sydney, and despite the bad reputation the area sustained, I escaped relatively unscathed from acts of Homophobia. In hindsight, I realised I probably escaped a lot of situations thanks to the over zealous protectiveness of my parents, who despite denying any knowledge of it, had probably long assumed I was gay and that the world outside was not a place for a young, socially inept and naïve teen.

Sure, over the years I have experienced a few homophobic comments and acts ranging from thrown bottles (Alcohol, full, what a waste!), a few disparaging comments throwing shade in my direction, a push and a shove in Oxford and Kings Cross when I lived there, and being mugged on a date in Parramatta one time. Though the latter cannot be deemed homophobic, merely a crime of opportunity. So, relatively, in comparison to friends, friends of friends and the general community, I have escaped relatively unscathed. Though, it upsets me when the world around me is less accepting.

Take for example the plight of young Dylan Souster who was not only attacked by a group of people near his home, but was then attacked by the person who helped him back to his home. Who offered to contact his girlfriend upstairs to help him go upstairs, but upon realising Dylan had a boyfriend, subsequently punched him several times in the face. However, is it little wonder when we even experience homophobia from within our own community. Russel Tovey, actor from ‘Looking’ was widely condemned when he made disparaging comments about how he was glad he was  not overtly gay. He since apologised, but the damage has been done – the expected behaviour of a male. Australia, for the most part has been a safe place. It could be safer, and there could be greater legal support than what we currently have.

Homophobia Information
Image: Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Homophobia Statistics

However, when I read news of the outside world, I am saddened. I am saddened that Russia has recently tried to increase the level of their anti-Gay laws. Russia has been a state that had begun to overturn the homophobic laws but has recently transgressed. New laws make it difficult to protest, announce or even display any sexuality outside the norm. Violence against LGBTIQ people is poorly investigated and often swept under the carpet. The controversial laws against gay propaganda have become synonymous with violence towards the LGBTIQ community in Russia, and it seemingly only gets worse. Granted, it’s hard to tell fact from fiction – the media is well known to be able to conjure up magic numbers and have their figures all in a twist – as well as the majority of papers, people reporting on these issues are generally more liberal than others. I say this because of a recent interview with a range of LGBTIQ people living in Russia. Whilst some said that they had a problem, and things were bad, there were an equal amount of people saying that their experiences, whilst not fantastic, were certainly not horrible. In that regard, it’s easy for me to sit here and say that things are good or bad, or to comment on the social justice issues of LGBTIQ individuals in Russia, however I am saddened that it is an issue. Because it shouldn’t be.

It is certainly clear that homophobic actions are often dismissed by the police both in Russia and across the world, it is also clear that there is a clear social impact on the views of homosexuality in varying regards in places across the world. However it is important to note that over the past few centuries, society has undergone massive social changes. We are increasing those social changes at a rapid rate especially with LGBTQI community services readily available. This is compounded by the fact of instant communication from virtually anywhere in the world, reduced travel times and the growing rate of regions and arguably, a growing trend towards separate cosmopolitanism states. It is important that we continue to have an open dialogue about homophobia, so that we are able to share information that will increase people’s awareness that it is still a problem. Say no to homophobia!

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