"Homosexuality isnt normal"
There are many people all over the world who will say ‘Homosexuality isn’t normal’. And they’re right….(cue gasps and shakes of the head.) But what I mean is: homosexuality is natural, and so is someone’s ethnicity and colour of their skin. Whether you’re black, white, straight, gay, bisexual or trans…who cares? You’re born like it, you can’t change it, and why should you? But there’s so many people who still don’t think this way.
In my last blog post I wrote about the statistics of those who have suffered and still suffer from homophobia within the BME community. So here’s a recap:
In the UK, there are approx. 400,000 LGBT ethnic minority people in the UK. Most will agree that at some point in their life, they have struggled with their identity and have struggled to obtain a sense of belonging within their ethnic community, and the community in which they live as a whole. Here are just a few statistics:
More than 2 in 5 (43%) of black gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from family members since the age of 16 compared to 1 in 5 (22%) of white gay and bisexual men. A third of Asian men (32%) and mixed and other ethnicity men (34%) have experienced domestic abuse from a family member since age 16.
Lifetime suicide attempt rates in the LGB population range from 10% to 40%, compared with 0.4% to 5.1% in the heterosexual population.
4 out of 5 LGBT women have reported having had spells of feeling miserable, sad or depressed. 1 in 5 LGBT women have deliberately harmed themselves.
80% of black, gay men have experienced racism in the gay community.
These statistics are shocking, and why are they even there in the first place? Individuals and groups are being persecuted for literally being themselves? For a world that has come on leaps and bounds since the days of persecution, we just seem to be going backwards.
For the purpose of this blog, I reached out to LGBT BME individuals and organisations to ask them questions and understand a bit more about their lives. And there was an overwhelming response…because nobody wanted to speak out. To me, this speaks volumes. To me, this says that there is a huge problem out there. People are scared. And this is not okay. There is still an Elephant in the Room.
Whether it’s persecution in everyday communities, or whether it’s persecution within their own communities, homosexuality in the BME community is not being accepted. And both of these issues need to be addressed.
When LGBT BME indiduals are suffering from homophobic remarks or actions on the streets, we have two problems. The first problem is homophobia. In recent times, homophobia has become more accepted in the world (not that it needs to be ‘accepted’ – do heterosexual people need acceptance for being attracted to those of the opposite sex?). Same-sex marriage is now legal in over 20 countries, and more and more figures are campaigning for LGBT equality. However, this isn’t happening. The second problem is racism. Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ in 1963. Over 50 years ago. Yet BME individuals are still being racially discriminated and even killed for having different skin, and different native roots. The fact of the matter is that majority communities don’t like different. But majority communities need to step out of their protective boxes and realise that everyone in the world, no matter the skin colour or ethnicity are all the same. When everything is all stripped back, we are one and the same, and we all have one beating heart.
However, homophobia within the LGBT BME communities also comes from within the BME communities, and homophobia is rooted in cultural beliefs. There are still countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal and can lead to imprisonment…and maybe even death. My question is: how is this still happening? In the 21st Century, I expect more. But these cultural beliefs stem over centuries, and being gay is often seen as a westernised ‘problem.’ Many hide their feelings and end up living lives of misery to save themselves from homophobic responses. Others be true to themselves, but suffer at the hands of those who do not understand.
There is no sure or quick-fire way to stop homophobia within the LGBT BME community, but the first step is education. The world needs to understand that no matter the ethnicity, no matter the sexual orientation…everyone is equal. And everyone just wants to live happy lives. We don’t want there to be a stigma around race or sexuality, and people should be comfortable talking about their natural lives. This Elephant in the Room needs to be quashed.