The world is on a journey to eradicate a virus that kills and debilitates. One that causes physical, emotional, and financial suffering. While this virus morphs to become more potent, science too is evolving to meet this challenge. I’m speaking of COVID-19.
We are also dealing with an ongoing global virus called hate. Its widespread contagion has been inflicting humanity for much longer than COVID-19. I’m speaking specifically about hate toward those with diverse sexualities and gender identities. This virus infects hearts and minds, bringing out the absolute worst of humanity.
This virus of hate manifests through cultural, religious, and political beliefs. It victimizes individuals with so-called honour killings, parents abandoning their children, laws criminalizing sexual acts, conversion therapy, and denial of marriage equality. These are just a few examples.
The tactics of the carriers of this hate continue to evolve, similar to a pathological virus. This is evident in the myriad of court cases and draconian laws enacted by right-wing politicians and hate groups, particularly since the establishment of marriage equality laws. As a result, LGBTQ advocacy groups and their allies need to continually evolve their strategies and messaging.
You may wonder, what difference can you make as an individual? Beyond supporting your local Pride festival, there some important things you can do. Here are a few suggestions:
- Speak out whenever you see or hear discrimination. Silence may be perceived as agreement. This emboldens the perpetrator and isolates the victim.
- Vote with your dollars. Look for businesses to support that embrace diversity.
- Support organizations that advocate for and provide relief to those who are targeted by hate.
- Hold your elected government representatives accountable for enacting and maintaining laws to protect those who are vulnerable.
- Use days like International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) to amplify the message and bring awareness and hope.
May 17th is the annual IDAHOBIT. The theme this year is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” Take 30 seconds on May 17th to amplify this message through your social media channels. You will find information and posters to share at may17.org.
Together we can protect those we love and the community around us against the virus of hate by standing in solidarity.
Wilbur Turner (he/him), who identifies as gay and queer, is a Kelowna-based writer and advocate who has contributed on many levels to LGBTQ rights, both locally and internationally.
(Image Credit: may17.org)