I’m a kid of the 80’s. I remember the first time I watched Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the song 99 Red Balloons, and the popularity of some truly awful songs by Bon Jovi. I don’t think I’m the only one who links music to a decade am I?
But I also remember the news scenes of the protests, over everything from the Poll Tax and Thatcher’s destruction of the Unions and industry, to the Gay Rights movement and Peter Tatchell.
By the time I was ready to come out of the closet and dance to I Am What I Am (I didn’t, I don’t live by stereotypes! lol) the dust had settled and we had clubs and bars all over the place. We had a community that, while still open to attack, was less threatened with the collusion of government and police. If we did experience hatred and violence we could actually report something and feel that we had a voice. We had pressure groups and charities on our side, standing up for us if we needed it.
If you haven’t really been paying much attention recently, you might think that us Queer folk are only fighting for the right to get Married, and nothing else. I can understand that perception, because what I’m about to discuss in this post isn’t being discussed on your local news, and probably not on your national news either. But it should be discussed, because it’s serious.
Earlier this month the city of St. Petersburg, Russia, adopted a new law which bans “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and pedophilia to minors.”
Did you catch that? Yes, read it again. The law-makers in St. Petersburg equate all of us with pedophiles. And through the creation of this law, the city has banned the discussion and public display of all LGBT issues in their entirety. The wording of the law is so deliberately vague that it could apply to someone handing out flyers discussing the law itself, to rainbow flags, or even wearing T-Shirts which could be construed as being related to LGBT issues.
The city of St. Petersburg is now facing international condemnation from Human Rights organizations for deliberately taking a step backward, and this is expected to worsen later this year as Pride parades kick off all over the world while the Gay people of St. Petersburg are denied one, and potentially have to witness a hate parade instead – yeah, the city refused a gay pride parade last year, and approved a far-right parade in its place!
While you might simply be able to avoid St. Petersburg (which is entirely possible, I haven’t tripped over it yet), and while the Queer folk of the city evacuate for more pleasant cities, this is by no means all there is to be concerned about.
Of course, we all know about the extremism being displayed across the American political system right now. We’ve seen some of the worrying comments from men like Santorum, suggesting he would destroy some basic freedoms in order to change America and make it more “Christian” (funny how their style of Christianity almost always seems completely at odds with traditional Christian values such as love, kindness, acceptance and peace.)
In France, the far-right Marine Le Pen (daughter of the founder of the National Front) is gaining popularity. In Germany, the authorities are on the hunt for neo-Nazis they now accept are greater in number and more dangerous than they had previously assumed (one previous member claims that they are heavily armed and capable of starting a civil war). In Belgium, on Saturday March 31st, the English Defense League (an off-shoot of the now vaguely acceptable British National Party) is planning a Europe-wide protest in an effort to create an anti-Islam movement – perfectly timed after the murderous spree by an Islamic extremist recently in France.
I remember the 80’s. But I also know of history prior to my existence. I remember that that a certain dictator arose on the back of a nationalist fever, after an economic collapse that decimated much of the world. I know that the first target might have been the Communists, but it was soon the Unionists, and the Jews, the intellectuals, and the Queers too…
Hatred and intolerance is the same in any form, whoever is the target, and we have to do everything we can to pull together and fight for the rights of all. Just as a neo-Nazi has the right to express their twisted opinions about the world and society, we have the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone who demands equality and freedom, and the basic Human rights that we all enjoy, and refuse to allow history to repeat itself.
The risks of doing nothing because we don’t believe it could happen again are gigantic. We must never forget our history, and we must never fool ourselves into thinking that it couldn’t happen. People never believed it could happen before, and it did.
Are you prepared to actually stand up when the hatred and ignorance is marching through your street?