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That’s so gay!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or some equally hefty object) for quite some time, you probably know that 2014 was the year when the Olympic winter games went to Sochi, Russia. Now, Sochi was critiqued as the selected city for many reasons, ranging from climate to the current government. However, another large reason has become even more noticeable in the media lately: Russia’s laws regarding LGBTQ individuals.

In 2013, Russia passed a law banning the propagation of “non-traditional sexual relations” amongst minors. Now, I’m not sure about you, but that sounds pretty broad to me. Many points out that the bill was intentionally left open like this so as to allow it to be used whenever the government felt the urge.

This law sparked outrage internationally (obviously), as it essentially prohibited any sort of LGBTQ events, portrayal in media, “out” relationships, etc. As am I sure you all know, it went even further to include vigilante groups assaulting LGBTQ citizens across the country without ramification.

As the Olympics approached, huge pressures were put on Russia to change their ways, and focus shifted to gay athletes who would be competing in the games. Since they began, social media has been abuzz, and many groups are jumping to denounce Russia’s treatment of the LGBTQ community.

Now, I think all of this is wonderful. Such blatant disregard for basic human rights is nothing short of disgusting, and definitely needs to be addressed. But I have one question:

Why is everyone only getting upset now?

It really shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that homosexuality is still punishable by death in five countries. Not only that, but other nations such as Uganda have RECENTLY attempted to create new bills that would make homosexuality a death sentence. I’d also like to point out that if you include the countries with anti-gay laws that do not demand death, the number increases to be almost twenty times as high. Someone please remind me what year it is?

Now, as an anthropology student, I accept that we need to realize that these cultures are different from ours, and that we cannot simply change them to fit our Western ideals. However, this displays a clear example of institutionalized discrimination. Such acts are generally found to be unethical by international governing bodies and coalitions the world over.

So, where were all the angry people before the Olympics? Do we only care about the countries in the spotlight?

I really wish I could answer this question. I ask myself every time I see a new article about a violation of LGBTQ rights in a foreign country, and I ask myself every time someone yells “FAGGOT” out their car window as they drive by.

So, ask yourself this: do you care about human rights? If you do, then you need to act. Human rights aren’t limited to heterosexual, cisgendered, white males. Human rights belong to humanity, no matter who we are or where we live. I’m infinitely glad that such attention has been brought onto Russia’s cruel laws, but it’s time to get your act together. If you turn out to “fight” for gay rights once every blue moon, then you aren’t an advocate; you are an enabler.

It’s time to stop going with the flow and start swimming against the current. That, my friends, is activism. Once you’ve done that you can come tell me that you care, and then we can talk. And who knows? With you on board, maybe we can change the world.

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2 Comments

  1. JamesRisdon Reply

    I’ve lived, worked, studied or visited every Canadian province and one of its territories and never, ever did I hear anyone yell “Faggot!” from an open car window.

    Here’s what I have heard. I have heard a First Nations person tell me: “Buy me a drink, white man!” (This is particularly ironic since, although I apprear Caucasian, I am actually myself Metis.) I have heard women brag about being able to make any man do anything they want. I have been denied the right to run for an executive position as a member in good standing of an Asian club because I was deemed to not be of the appropriate race. And I have heard young adults make disparaging, ageist remarks about older Canadians who, ironically, were implementing federally-funded programs to help young people find work. 

    I have read articles about the crisis facing gay and lesbian young people who are apparently so victimized by society they feel the need to take their own lives – and all the while these same people have completely ignored the plight the group at the greatest risk of suicide, elderly white men. The suicide rate among elderly white men is so much higher than the next highest group that the rates cannot even be said to be close. By the way, the second-highest rate for suicide is not gay and lesbian youth. It is black men. 

    Is there discrimination against gays and lesbians in Canada in 2014? Undoubtedly, there is still some knuckle-dragging prejudice out there in the nooks and crannies and under the rocks where slime thrives. But, as a society, Canadians can rightly be satisfied that gays and lesbians are certainly not suffering anything like the kind of prejudice they once did.

    Our laws certainly protect gays and lesbians to a remarkable degree. Discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation is illegal and there are hate crime laws which prohibit crimes against gays and lesbians as an identifiable group. Gays and lesbians have many media outlets and lobby groups and gay pride parades which have budgets in the millions of dollars. The gay and lesbian market is the target of many marketing campaigns as businesses try to woo these consumers. On TV and in movies, gays and lesbians tend to be portrayed in a very favourable way. Most of the villians in recent movies have been straight, not gay or lesbian. I would argue that, to the extent that gays and lesbians suffer from the stereotypes of who they are, it is now that the image of gays and lesbians is now so positive and so wonderful that I doubt most gays and lesbians can live up to the hype. Most people, including gays and lesbians, simply aren’t that wonderful; most people are just, well, average. I can see how in a society where gays and lesbians are increasing expected to be wonderful, just being an average person could seem like a disappointment for your typical gay or lesbian. 

    No, when it comes to prejudice in our society, I think we have to look a little deeper. 
    Since the true mark of how entrenched a prejudice is tends to be how difficult it is to expose, I would suggest the people who are suffering the most discrimination in our society today are elderly men and boys. Elderly men have the highest rate of suicide, boys have the lowest level of academic success. There are no organizations to help these people. Boys tend to be medicated for ADHD at a much greater frequency than girls. And an overwhelming majority of people locked away for crimes are men. Add to that the likelihood of violent death or injury which is higher among males than females, and things should start to come into focus. 

    The true battle for equality in our time is not gay and lesbian rights, nor women’s rights, nor ethnic minority rights. These still have their place as worthy causes but they are no longer the forefront of the equal rights movement.

    The true role for an activist today, for people who want to make a real difference in the world and fight for equal, fair treatment for all people, is to stand up for the rights of white men, and particularly elderly white men and boys, before they succumb to depression, violence, suicide or find themselves locked away for life in prison.

  2. jtnamerson Reply

    Congratulations, you’ve shared a personal opinion based on your own personal experience. Are you a faggot? Maybe that’s why it’s never been yelled out at you. Are you a black youth? Do you live on a reserve? Do you have a uterus? You’re clearly speaking from a narrow perspective – that of a privileged heterosexual white male. You also claim that elderly white men and young white boys are the most marginalized populations in Canada based on a single factor for each (suicide rates and academic success).

    I just felt the need to comment in case someone reads this article and then the comment by JamesRisdon without having anything else to help show that not everyone out there believes the new “forefront” of equal rights movements should be white men and boys. In fact, I can’t think of too many people that would support his opinion, even all of my white male friends. I’ll have to ask them… that is, if I can catch them before they fail school or commit suicide.

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