Each year, the LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated in the month of June. The celebration is in occasion of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, marking an important landmark in the fight for LGBT rights. In a poll we did on Reddit, 233 out of 315 voters responded they celebrate Pride month. The remaining 82 voters explained they either didn’t as they feel no need to while others explained how they couldn’t as they don’t have the means or support to do so. In view of this occasion, we had the chance to talk with some members of the community around the world. They have shared with us their overall experience as queer people, their pride while also their fears and further ideas on the narrative surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.
Filippo is a 25 year-old bar shift leader and student at the University of Arts of London. He’s originally from Italy but has been living in London for the past five years.
Do you celebrate Pride? I like to go to the annual parade because it’s an opportunity for the entire community to reclaim our rights but also a safe place for us to socialise and get to be our true selves”.
Do you feel supported or oppressed in our system? At times I feel threatened by the society we live in. I feel oppressed when someone tries to use my sexuality to try and get to me and especially when people expect me to be in a certain way just for being part of the community.
Have you ever been a victim of harassment based on your sexual/gender orientation/identification? If so, how did you feel? 100%. I have been a victim of harassment because of my sexual orientation several times. In school when people would call me an “f*g” before I even knew what it meant and above all before I had the time to figure out for myself my sexuality. I’ve also been harassed for the same reason at work both by colleagues and customers. However these micro-aggressions have also shaped me to become more confident in myself.
How do you feel about slurs? Do you find them offensive or do you take them as jokes? Generally speaking, I don’t like slurs around the LGBT+ community. Especially when people that aren't part of the community use it in a negative and diminishing way. Despite this, I recognise that using slurs like “f*g” or similar is very much common within the community. That’s because we tend to reclaim the negative way those words are perceived and make it into something positive and powerful.
Is there any myth regarding the LGBTQ community that you'd like to see debunked? Yes, for instance that your sexual orientation and/or gender identity is a choice. Most people would think that one day you wake up and decide to be gay, trans or something else but the truth is that your sexuality is not a conscious choice. Your sexual orientation is determined from the time you are born until you turn 3 years old. Genetics? Environmental? We don’t know but it surely isn’t a choice.
What change would you like to see that would support you and the LGBTQ+ community? I would like to see all conversion therapy to become illegal in the UK and the rest of Europe. It’s devastating to see that those harmful practices are still not only legal but very much common in most countries around the world. I would also like to see a community more inclusive within itself. There is still a lot of inequality, discrimination and more within the community. On a more personal level, I would like to see less prejudice and more willingness to understand and curiosity from people that still struggle with the issue. As well as less rainbow washing and a more genuine from brands and corporations during pride month and all year round.
Camilla is 23 years old from Sardinia, Italy and she moved to London in 2018. She considers this to be one of the most important events of her life, particularly in relation to her sexuality.
Do you celebrate Pride?
In London, I celebrate pride by going to parade and treat myself. In this city I feel supported, everyone who wants to is part of the community and most people are open about their identity. I can just be myself, wear whatever I want and be whoever I want. And thats what we need. We need support yeah cos we have been and are still humiliated. If you stop humiliating us than we don’t need support.
Do you feel supported or oppressed in our system?
It depends. For example when I’m in London I feel supported and open to express myself but when I’m in Italy people observe the way I’m dressed and the way I walk and I can feel it and I feel judged. So it makes me feel weird about myself, as if I was wrong. I think we are getting where we need to be, on the right spot. But it’s still not enough because in the majority of places around the world we are still not supported as much as in London. If people stopped harassing us, we don’t need support.
Have you ever been a victim of harassment based on your sexual/gender orientation/identification? If so, how did you feel?
Yes I have. Once I was in my city in Italy. We were at the beach, sitting on a bench and just talking and this guy approached us and started making jokes and laugh. I lost it and confronted him. He started “flirting” with my ex and continued to annoy us. He slapped me to fool around and I got angry. I realised i can’t just get involved in a fight and I knew I couldn’t win so we had to leave. I felt wrong, it’s hard to explain. Why do people think that my sexuality has anything to do with them? I think they’re just insecure about their own sexuality and their own life.
Is there any myth regarding the LGBTQ community that you'd like to see debunked? The myth I’d like debunk is that if I’m lesbian and someone else is as well I automatically like them. Just because they’re lesbian. Of course it’s not like that, just like with straight people. It makes no sense and it annoys me so much.
Aria is from Milan. They are 22 years old and work in fashion. They identify as non-binary.
Do you celebrate Pride? I try to live as my true self everyday, even if it isn’t socially accepted, especially here in Italy, and I also go every year to the parade in my hometown, Milan.
Do you feel supported or oppressed in our system? I feel oppressed in a system that doesn’t want to recognise and accept my non-binary identity, that doesn’t want to educate people about respecting other people identities. The system we live in thrives thanks to gender binarism and traditional family, making us queers, especially the ones from the less represented categories (Aro spectrum, Bi spectrum, trans spectrum), feel like outsiders in a society we’re forced to live into
Have you ever been a victim of harassment based on your sexual/gender orientation/identification? If so, how did you feel? Yes. I don’t know how to feel, there are different kinds of harassment but every single one makes my imposter syndrome kick in and i start having intrusive thoughts about non validating my identities.
How do you feel about slurs? Do you find them offensive or do you take them as jokes? Even if some slurs are intended as jokes, the real difference maker is by who, when and where those slurs are said. i hate slurs if they're used by someone who isn't part of the community to joke about LGBTQIA+ people, cause they're a form of degradation and contribute to the general ignorance about our issues
Is there any myth regarding the LGBTQ community that you'd like to see debunked? They’re literally too many. Most of the people in Italy still think that all trans women are sex workers, maybe we could start by that.
What change would you like to see that would support you and the LGBT community? A law that recognises homo-transphobic aggressions as hate crimes and not generic crimes. And then a revolution of our education system, who will teach about diversity and mutual respect to the New generations
Lauren is 33 years old. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and works with kids with chronic pain. She knew she was gay since the age of 8 and had her first girlfriend at the age of 15. While her dad was accepting of her sexuality, Lauren’s mom wanted to send her to therapy.
Do you celebrate Pride? I attended my first pride parade when I was 16…sneaking to downtown Houston in the middle of the day on a Saturday in June. Lying to my parents about spending the day walking around the museum district. The Pride Festival was everything. I continue to sneak away each year until I left for university.
Do you feel supported or oppressed in our system? I have felt, and still feel, oppressed by my family. Bringing my girlfriend around and having my mother refer to her as my “friend” at various social events. Getting engaged to a woman and no one offering to throw us an engagement or bridal shower, in light of the 3 my mother threw of various family friends who had gotten engaged that summer. Oppressed at work—constantly having to “come out” as I pass (visually) as straight. And I also recognise the privilege and safety in that. But I have also felt immense love and support. Nothing is black and white.
What change would you like to see that would support you and the LGBT community? As far as changes I would like to see…normalisation of queer relationships, which I think would result in the need to constantly come out. Straight people do not have to gender their partners when referring to them in casual conversation. I hope for a time when this is true for LGBTQI+ folks
Sasha and Matteo
Sasha and Matteo, both 22 years old from Milan, Italy, also have added their comments to our discussion with regards to their experiences as queers.
Sasha Personally i have never endured episodes of harassment as i tend to pass as straight woman, given the fact that it don’t have a queer stereotyped self-expression and it’s more frequent for me to date opposite-sex people. The only setting that causes trouble for me would be my family, but i have been working on being accepted by my mother for years and i can say we have finally sorted it out, while with my dad i still haven’t tried to undertake this path because i know it would be almost impossible for him to understand and for now i don’t feel the urge to do it as he is not very present in my life. As far as what could be done in a rather conservative setting such as Italy (especially among the oldest brackets of the population), i would suggest investing in resources and programs to raise a bias-free generation. For examples by including a proper and kids appropriate gender studies program in schools starting from elementary school, as getting in touch with such matters when you are still learning about our society wouldn’t even expose future adults to being non accepting and close-minded.
Matteo I don’t celebrate Pride as I struggle to get any emotional involvement in the event. I do not envision myself as being proud of my sexual orientation, probably because I’ve been privileged enough not to experience any events of homophobia. I live in Milan where I generally feel supported. I don’t feel oppressed , I can’t find any instances where I felt that I’ve been discriminated or precluded of an opportunity based on my sexual orientation. I’ve been a victim of slurs sometimes but I put little weight on such events. I’ve been lucky to not have experience major episodes of homophobia.
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