|By Florence Kyohangirwe|
The EA scene joins the rest of the world to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia #Idahobit. The day is commemorated by LGBTQI+ community and allies yearly on the 17th of May.
Even with access to so much information and advocacy for the LGBTQI+ community, queer people worldwide still face oppression and ridicule. In Uganda, Sexual Minorities Uganda, a leading organization fighting for the rights and dignity of queer people continues to register cases of persecution. The organisation has documented 80 evictions, 25 family banishment, and more than 45 physical attacks as a result of the state sanctioned homophobia. Some legislators continue to hover above the community the idea of a new Anti-homosexuality bill which was in the past dismissed.
Unlearn your ignorance and harmful traditional/religious messaging. If people’s sexuality is that big of a deal to you or something you wish to delve deep into understanding from a genuine point, at least be open to reliable sources of knowledge. Do research before you spew what may come off as ignorance. Share what you learn with other heterosexuals especially those who portray homophobic tendencies.
Remember this: that queer people don’t owe you anything. In your plight to get better understanding of the LGBTQI+ community, be informed that the community doesn’t owe you any explanations. As much as some people are very open about their sexuality with people close to them, others may not be as privileged. They may not be comfortable coming out to family members or friends as different people perceive queerness differently.
So…respect that! Don’t push buttons with your entitlement to information.
A few mildly friendly, but mostly long-since-exasperated pointers.
It’s not about you!
Many people enjoy making situations (especially those entailing oppression) about themselves. An example: when queer people tell you their preferred pronouns, which (just a for your information) is a big deal to them, and a heterosexual person will complain how hard it is to get familiar with preferred pronouns. This is really not about you so put in effort- you want to be a friend? Prove it.
Listen and understand- this is an area where you have to accept that all the answers are not currently bouncing around your brain. White people don’t understand black oppression, how could they? Men don’t understand the struggles of women to gain a foothold in society…because they haven’t lived it day in and day out. Likewise, if this isn’t your lived experience, how could you know unless you listen? On top of this take
Include, support and make spaces for LGBTQI+ people. Most LGBTQI+ people cannot find work or lose work simply because of their sexuality; they are ostracized socially beyond this. Include them. Don’t just invite them to the party- but talk to them when they’re there. One step more- if people talk badly, get their back. If the party is in your house, what kind of house do you want to hold?
Learn or get familiar with LGBTQI+ dialect. You wouldn’t want to wrongly say something about identity that would deeply hurt one of your closest friends. The same rings true of the queer community. Take some notes, take a step back and just pause a second before wading in above your head conversationally. It isn’t so hard to be welcoming, and so many people are so much so already. Just open your arms a little wider.
Look- nobody is holding a gun to your head, but the pressure to be decent was never that high to begin with. In this time of incredible challenge; it is vital to embrace the humanity of everyone, especially those who are portrayed as having less.