17
May

IDAHOT: Breaking the Silence

A blog by Julien Haye

I grew up in a world where who I am was considered an illness. 

It was only on 17 May 1990 that the World Health Organisation finally decided to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. I was 13 at the time and I wasn’t sick after all! But as a young gay boy, this did not mean much to me at the time and it would be years before it did, before I felt that I belonged. 

The LGBT+ community has learnt to be resilient and creative regardless of our circumstances. So despite the lockdown, physical distancing measures, and this tiny virus creating havoc into our lives, we came together to Break the Silence on May 17th and (virtually) celebrated the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). 

17 May, this is IDAHOT on Breaking the Silence

“I ‘broke the silence’ several years ago when I came out as Bi. Throughout my life I have faced considerable challenge and adversity with regards to sexual orientation. Bisexual people could be considered as a ‘minority within a minority’ and there is a lack of visible role models which has at times made me feel alone…” – Kayleigh Moody, Technical Specialist at Fidelity UK

17 May represents a major landmark for the LGBT+ community

In 2004 it became the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia aiming to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

This year, IDAHOT was celebrated in more than 130 countries…

Including 37 where same sex acts were still illegal. As I was reading through the endless list of activities taking place around the world – please check https://may17.org/ to learn more – a few caught my eye: 

  • The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus will organize a talk on Homo-Bi-Transphobia in the time of Corona to generate ideas for collective actions and solidarity among our community and allies to survive the pandemic.
  • In Germany, the traditional “Rainbow Flashmobs” which have crowds flying rainbow-colored balloons, will be taken online with e-messages being released all day long.
  • In Australia, the Victoria’s LGBTIQA+ Basketball team Bushrangers will share stories from their members every day of the week in the run up to May 17.
  • In Canada, Halifax Pride has asked local 2SLGBTQ+ artists to create colouring pages inspired by the Day and will invite the public to colour them together on Zoom
  • In Spain, the silence will be broken “with songs and music, with words and musical notes that various artists will perform online all evening”. Other groups in Sitges will organise a virtual “flower offering” event that invites supporters to take pictures of flowers and share them online to mark their love and support

17 May is a celebration

And it is also an opportunity for me to remind all of us that we should all apply a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia whether it is with our fellow colleagues, our clients or our suppliers. 

***

This is about all of us…

… regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, gender expression or identity, etc. During a recent webchat, some people expressed some concerns on feeling excluded or endangered for being straight. You are not! 

Minority groups – LGBT, women, ethnic, and others – are reclaiming their voices at the table. And this is happening is all areas of life. 

My mother was recently complaining that men who did not cook, had designed her Thermomix. It was full of sharp edges, corners and gaps which made it impossible to wash after use. I don’t know whether men designed this by the way, but her reaction underpins a feeling present in many groups that the world we live in has not been designed for us. 

Collectively these minority groups form a very loud majority that is asking for and driving change. And this is can be unsettling. 

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