June 2017 newsletter

June is Pride Month! What began as a day to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, a tipping point for the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States, has grown into a month-long worldwide celebration of equality, visibility, and diversity. It is a month to reflect on social and political advances, including the anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision legalising same-sex marriage in all 50 states, but also a time to remind ourselves of the work that still has to be done. As allies, IWI join our neighbours in the movement towards equality.

How can YOU be an ally?

Listen. The best way to learn about important issues and the personal experiences of a community is to listen to the many people who have first-hand experience. By listening to the voices of marginalised groups we all gain a better understanding of different issues.

Educate yourself. Get online! Read blogs, articles, and stories. Watch videos. Learn history and current events. One of the best ways to grow as an ally is to challenge your own assumptions and continue learning.

Speak up. Use what you’ve learned! Speak up when you hear oppressive jokes, comments, and language. Share stories and experiences, but remember to give credit where credit is due. As allies, we help amplify the voices of the communities we stand beside.

"Love has no gender - compassion has no religion - character has no race." - ― Abhijit Naskar, Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality

What the colours of the rainbow flag mean

Designed in San Francisco by artist Gilbert Baker, originally hand-stitched and hand-dyed with eight colours — pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and purple — the rainbow flag became much more than a simple reaction to homophobic behaviour. Instead, it became a universal symbol for LGBTQ pride and began hanging from windows, flying high at demonstrations, and cropping up all over the country. As the popularity of the flag grew, its design was adapted to meet demand, and by 1979, the six-colour version became the official symbol for gay pride.

  • Red - Life
  • Orange - Healing
  • Yellow - Sunlight
  • Green - Nature
  • Blue - Serenity
  • Purple - Spirit

It may be Pride month – but the world has little to be proud of when it comes to LGBTQ rights

We live in a world where gay people are being rounded up, detained, tortured, harassed, kidnapped and most likely killed on Europe’s doorstep.

- Jack May, The Independent

It may be Pride month, but gay men, lesbian women, trans people and bisexual people across the country will have this same thought, even now as rainbow-striped flags unfurl in windows, held aloft in the streets, and astride flagpoles.

“I just want to be normal,” goes the refrain.

For many of us in the LGBT community – that possibility is closer than ever before.

It’s been fifty years since homosexuality was decriminalised – meaning most people can’t remember a time when it was illegal to be gay – and since then we’ve picked up civil partnerships, the right to adopt, and gay marriage.

Plus, we’ve repealed Section 28, introduced compulsory sex and relationships education in schools, got most of the biggest employers and companies to think of being nice to LGBT people as a good and sensible thing to do, so you could say the game’s up.

We have our rights, we’re all accepted and assimilated into society – we are well and truly normal – pack and go home to the husband and the Labrador, right?

Not quite. Let’s face it – it’s been a tough year, and a tough couple of months, for LGBT people.

We live in a world where gay people are being rounded up, detained, tortured, harassed, kidnapped and most likely killed on Europe’s doorstep, with Chechnya’s autocratic leader facing little more than a rap on the knuckles from Russian president Vladimir Putin and the bulk of international leaders – including our own.

Almost three-quarters of a billion people live in countries where you can still be killed merely for being gay, while homosexuality remains a crime in a shocking 40 per cent of UN countries.

Closer to home, ours is a time when you are seven times more likely to be homeless if you’re LGBT, as families so often refuse to accept us for who we are, or create an environment so unkind, so unwelcoming, and so unloving that the dank, dangerous expanses of the streets feel more like home.

Ours is a time when a flailing Government licking its self-inflicted wounds must be propped up by a sectarian party whose record on LGBT and abortion rights is astonishingly backward – and whose repeated, on-the-record acclamations about the depravity and sinfulness of gay people seem to actively relish the prospect of being as cruelly medieval as possible.

And let’s not forget that this same DUP governs the one nation in our supposedly United Kingdom where gay people are still not able to marry – and where women still do not have control over their bodies as abortion remains illegal. While such issues may not end up on the agenda for a Tory-DUP deal, the fact that this Government would work hand-in-hand with such people rightly horrifies LGBT people and women alike.

All the while, of course, our National Health Service wasted vast chunks of its time and money fighting desperately to stop us getting access to PrEP medication that may well have been responsible for the first major fall in HIV infection rates since the 1980s.

Now, more perhaps than in recent, more plain-sailing years, our pride is our lifeline.

Obviously Pride conjures up a very specific image for most – the camp, colourful, loud, blaring parade of joy that will announce itself with aplomb on its way through central London in two weeks’ time.

But it so clearly means more than that – and must still retain a semblance of its political roots even as greater acceptance has meant recent events have felt more party than protest.

Pride month gives us that opportunity to make Pride about more than just the glitter and the loudspeakers on one glorious Saturday in London.

It’s a chance to take a moment to read up on our history – the battles we fought and won, and those we’re still tackling. It’s a chance to check up on those still struggling to cope with their sexuality, gender identity, or the way those closest to them haven’t always responded as they’d hoped.

Pride nudges us – and occasionally nags us – to remember that our fight for equality has too often left behind those of different races, different religions, those whose identities we’ve been too slow to understand, or simply those whose difference can be a little harder to blend into polite (read, straight) society. And more often than most of us would care to admit, our pride has actively worked to exclude those people – and that cannot abide.

To have pride in 2017 presents vast challenges for all of us – from those living in supportive queer bubbles beyond the reaches of ignorance and prejudice, to those stranded in a wilderness as often literal as emotional, chucked out by prigs outside the community and shunned by too many inside it.

As the whirlwind events of the past year have shown, Pride is as vital and powerful a force as it has ever been.

This month, of all times, we must let our pride open its doors who attempt to seek refuge in it. We must keep fighting for every inch of our pride, and never forget that our pride – our rights, our joy, our love – cannot for one instance be taken for granted.

Come Work With Us!

IWI is growing. As an organisation which is run 100% by volunteers, we are looking to fill the following positions. If you have any questions, or would like to apply, forward your CV and cover letter to Director of Human Resources, Sana Khan at the link below. For more information, contact IWI through the link below.

Available Positions

  • Director of Research
  • Partnerships Officer
  • Grant Writer
  • Senior Executive Assistant
  • Senior Executive Researcher
  • Director of Events

Listen to her roar. Don't miss an episode of AudioRoar! with Poppy Damon.

Photo Credits

  • https://www.gov.uk/government/world-location-news/the-uk-supports-the-uns-international-day-against-homophobia-and-transphobia
  • https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About
  • http://abcnews.go.com/US/woman-knocked-drone-seattle-pride-parade-city/story?id=32112670
  • http://www.gettyimages.com/photos/new-york-city-gay-pride-parade?excludenudity=true&sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=new%20york%20city%20gay%20pride%20parade
  • https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30-asia/2017/expats/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

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