The United States of America can be wonderful. I’m in New York City at the moment, and I’ve spent a large part of today with lovely friends. I have caught brief moments of celebrations of the local Puerto Rican community. I have witnessed a proud gathering at The Stonewall Inn, celebrating LGBTQI people and love, defiant in the face of hatred and violence.
The United States of America can be heartbreaking. That gathering at The Stonewall Inn was a vigil for the victims of today’s massacre at a gay nightclub massacre, where at least 50 people have been killed. A horrible attack driven by homophobia, in what was meant to be a safe space for the LGBTQI community.
there is something so gut wrenching about this happening in a place that is meant to be a safe space because we aren’t safe already.— Bec Shaw (@Brocklesnitch) June 12, 2016
The United States of America can be confounding. Mass shootings continue to happen at a rate that’s almost unbelievable. Senators and Congresspeople sit on their hands when anything approaching sensible gun control is suggested - and many of those have taken large amounts of money from the NRA. Thoughts and prayers seem to be the only things offered as ‘action’ on the matter.
It’s not all about guns, though. This attack was clearly driven by homophobia - and it must be acknowledged that far too many leaders in the US at best turn a blind eye to that homophobia and bigotry, and at their worst encourage it. The transphobic bathroom laws cropping up in many US states is just another example of this. And while in Australia our levels of gun violence are thankfully quite low, we don’t lack our fair share of bigots in positions of power.
Our current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is happy to attend Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade, but has also taken an axe to the SafeSchools program: a key tool in reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying in our schools. He is content to have bigots like Corey Bernardi in his party. He is insistant on running a plebiscite on same-sex marriage - asking Australians to debate on whether some people should have the right to get married.
Apparently equality is up for debate. The hatred and fear that those against such a change will push through our media is acceptable. The suffering of our friends and family, facing hurtful questions on whether they are equal to us, is acceptable.
And then, when speaking on the horrific event in Orlando, our Prime Minister does not mention at all that it was driven by homophobia, that it targeted the LGBTQI community.
Here is a snippet of the Australian Prime Minister making my community invisible. No mention of LGBTI people at all. pic.twitter.com/zVPS94k1hg— Brendan Maclean (@macleanbrendan) June 13, 2016
It wasn’t because he hates freedom, it was because he hates queers. And your party peddles the same hate. https://t.co/fp6SudVNTs— Paul Kidd (@paulkidd) June 12, 2016
We must recognise that allowing homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry of all kinds to fester - by being silent, by voting for certain politicians - makes our societies unsafe for the LGTBQI community. Please keep that in mind when you vote in our upcoming election on July 2nd.
You may think I’m making this political, #auspol. I am. Because the community makes every aspect of my life political. Tax. Marriage. All.— OhSnapOps (@DylanLacey) June 13, 2016
If you accept that some of our politicians are too accepting of bigotry, of homophobia, of transphobia, and yet you still vote for those same politicians: tell me, what are you prioritising over the safety of our LGBTQI friends and family?