Imagine waking up to get ready for school having to wear clothes made for a gender you don’t associate yourself with. Imagine walking the halls of school fearing for your own safety because your peers bully you for liking people of the same sex. Imagine knowing that you live in a state, or even a whole country filled with people who hate you for being who you are.
This is the unfortunate reality people that the LGBTQ community has to deal with on a daily basis. No one wants to live in fear of expressing themselves. With this information in mind, one would think that something as basic as rights for LGBTQ people would be recognized around the world. However, we are far from a place of equality and some of the biggest obstacles lie with the most powerful position in our country: the President of the United States.
Although Donald Trump has claimed to support the LGBTQ community, his actions have confused the level of support he may simulate on social media. Some of Trump’s actions that have demonstrated a level of discrimination include banning transgender people from the military, removing the protections the Obama administration placed that allowed transgender people to choose the bathroom facility of their choice, stating he would consider supreme court justices who were anti-LGBTQ, and not showing his support during pride month– (even his own daughter tweeted words of encouragement).
Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence has also stated that he is in favor of shock therapy for “curing” homosexaulity, which shows the current administration’s utter lack of support, or care in general, for those in the LGBTQ community. Since the United States is the most powerful country in the world, and Donald Trump its leader, his actions have an impact on the rest of the world. If his patterns continue and nations follow his influence, then the already low number of countries that support and socially accept people in the LGBTQ community will decrease. Many people outside of the (mostly) liberal state we live in are oblivious to the fact that 13 states in the U.S. still frown upon gay marriage. Many are also unaware that the United States was not the first country to legalize gay marriage.
Gay marriage is only legal in twenty five out of one hundred ninety five countries. That’s less than thirteen percent of countries worldwide that do not allow two people of the same gender to marry. The first country to legalize gay marriage was the Netherlands. Followed by Belgium, Canada, Spain, and South Africa. These countries passed the official laws that legalized gay marriage from the year 2000 to the year 2006. Gay marriage, rights for people of all gender identities, and homosexual acts are punishable by death in many countries around the world today including Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia. In other countries, death is not a punishment for homosexaulity, but life in prison or serious beatings are other possible punishments. These countries include India, Italy, Russia, Greece and Thailand (plus one hundred sixty five more). In Mexico, only under some jurisdictions are people of the same sex allowed to wed each other.
One major first world country, that continues to progress over time is Australia. It is surprising that Australia doesn’t allow gay marriage, and many pro-LGBTQ celebrities are speaking up, demanding that it should be legalized. Miley Cyrus, a famous singer engaged to Australian actor, Liam Hemsworth, tweeted her words of support claiming that she is disappointed that Australia has not yet legalized gay marriage, and that she would be extremely proud to call herself an Australian by association once the law is passed. Other celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres, Margot Robbie, and Meghan Trainor have openly voiced their encouragement for a law legalizing gay marriage in Australia.
The United States is not doing much better than these countries where LGBTQ rights are denied. The United States’ first state to allow gay marriage was Massachusetts, a small state whose highest court banned the violation of same sex couples. This was in the year 2003, and was only one of fifty that allowed people of the same sex to marry each other. The states that didn’t allow gay marriage prior to the 2015 supreme court ruling include Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Ohio, and Tennessee. All of these states voted red in the 2017 presidential election.
One of our very own Trojans, Alex Robins, teacher and the advisor of the Gay Straight Alliance club (GSA) helped me understand his point of views on some of the topics mentioned above. Robins reflects on LGBTQ+ discrimination on campus explaining, “I think homophobia comes from ignorance, not necessary willful ignorance. It’s about not understanding, like being okay with gay marriage is different than being accepting of people who are gay. I think there is a big disconnect because I think that there is this belief that there aren’t as many gay people, or lesbian, or transgender students here at TL, which is wrong. It’s important to consider how this community is another piece of TL, since TL contains people of all genders and all races, who are part of this community. And I think that the more that we know, and there is more fostering to understanding, there will be less homophobia.” Along these lines, Robins expressed to me that he believes twenty-five is a small number for the amount of accepting countries in the world, but he thinks that the LGBTQ world has progressed a lot over the past few decades.
“It’s not surprising. Considering that being gay was seen even in American standards as a psychological disorder up until like the 1970’s, the acknowledgement of the LGBTQ community as a legitimate group is really new. I think it’ll be moving in a positive direction and it makes me hopeful. It’s depressing but the trajectory is moving forward.” Robins helped me better understand that the LGBTQ community is relatively new, and since the world has made so much progress in a short period of time, it is likely that the LGBTQ community will continue to spread and be further accepted worldwide. If you want to show support for the LGBTQ community, consider meeting with the GSA, and joining one of their meetings every other week on Thursdays. Show your support for the LGBTQ community through positive verbal communication and protesting!