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IDAHOTB Reflections

May 17th marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). It aims to draw attention to the violence, discrimination and everyday challenges experienced by Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex and Queer people and all who do not conform to/identify with majority sexual or gender norms.

To mark the occasion, CCCq asked its members to reflect on why IDAHOTB matters to them, and their experiences of living as someone on the LGBTIQ spectrum. Below are four reflections from four different staff members working in CCCU. We hope that they will encourage others to reflect on the continued need for IDAHOTB and to stand with your colleagues, friends and family affected by such experiences, whether you know about them or not. Because tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia is everyone’s responsibility.

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Transphobia as exemplified by the current anti trans rhetoric in the media is what is stopping me from living my life authentically as myself. Instead I have to hide behind a badly cultivated fake persona who I have come to detest. I hide who I am because I am afraid that I will not be accepted as the person that I am, that I will be abused, spat at and potentially worse when out in public. I have no wish to draw attention to the fact that I am transgender and so am a trans woman, I just want to be able to live my life with dignity and respect receiving the equality that most others do. No one should be afraid to live their life authentically as who they really are.

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My partner and I have experienced (thankfully rarely) a curious mixture of homophobia and transphobia. When some people on our local allotments somehow found out that I was trans I was subjected to quite a lot of transphobic abuse – but my partner suffered even more as he endured some months of homophobic insults and innuendo all suggesting, in a highly derogatory way that simply because he was in a relationship with me he must be gay.

All that was a few years ago and until quite recently I had hoped – even believed (perhaps naïvely) that issues with homophobia, transphobia and biphobia were increasingly behind us – after all so much progress has been made since I was first coming out as trans in the late 1980s. It appears, however, that my optimism was at best rather premature. The scale of especially transphobic vitriol that has been unleased in certain sections of the media of late has been really quite frightening. As someone who has been fortunate enough to not experience high levels of transphobia personally in recent years I have found recent events especially shocking, and demonstrating a real and ongoing need for all of us in the LGBTIQ community to stand against the ignorance and hatred from which so much of this unpleasant material stems. Until no-one is abused or threatened because of their sexual orientation or gender identity there remains, sadly, a very present need for the International Day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.

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This year I’m travelling to a country where my relationship is illegal, where being me is a crime. As it happens, I’m not travelling with my partner on this particular occasion but doing so openly would not even be an option here. The fact that over 70 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships shows that while many people particularly in Western Europe feel reasonably secure in expressing their identity and relationships openly, for countless others doing so risks their freedom or worse. This is why IDAHOTB matters.

I am lucky and I have not experiences many instances of overt hostility because of my sexual orientation. Of course, drunken hollering of LEEEEEEEEEEEEESBIANS!!! is still almost guaranteed if I hold my partner’s hand in public at certain time of the evening, in certain areas. (And as much as I’d like to, that isn’t an audience receptive to discussion of ‘well actually, I’m pansexual and my partner identifies as bisexual, but thanks for the support?’ Trust me, I’ve tried.) But I am tired, so very tired, of the assumptions, of the interactions, casual questions, media content steeped in heteronormativity. And as a bi/pan person, I’m also extremely tired of the either/or thinking of sexual orientation, the clinging to categories (gay or straight) where a continuum and fluidity exist, the (spoken or unspoken) commentary of maybe I’m just pretending (presumably for attention?) or in denial or somehow ‘not queer enough’. This is why the ‘B’ part of IHAHOTB is particularly important to me.

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IHAHOTB for me is a chance to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a society where being who I am is not a criminal offence and on the most part, I do not have to hide my true self. Unfortunately, it is not all positive! I have not often been subjected to homophobia, however, I can say it has had a big effect on my life as what I was seeing when I was growing up in the media and the attitudes of the time, it did prolong the period for me to come out to my family and friends. This perception of not being accepted was worse than any single episode of homophobia I have experienced. It also affects the life decisions I make now, for example holding hands with my partner of 12 years in public, always leads to a feeling of being on edge.

The day is important to mark especially as LGBTIQ rights are not moving forward in certain areas of the world and in some countries the rights that I take for granted are being eroded. Also, you do not have to look far in the UK media, even now, to see more conservative attitudes being voiced against same-sex parents as well as trans and queer identity. It is important to tell the world that homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are not acceptable and we will continue to campaign against it.

 

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What is LGBT History Month?

Established in 2005, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) History Month aims to raise awareness and promote LGBT equality.

Throughout the month organisations host seminars, publish posters, post blogs, raise flags and a host of other promotional activity to raise awareness and educate the public on the LGBT community, including their history, their diversity, their culture and experience.

Each year there is a dedicated theme, which provides a focus for activity, in particular for schools to embed LGBT History Month into the curriculum. This year, for example, is Geography – Mapping the World.

You can learn more about LGBT History Month on their website

LGBT History Month and CCCU

CCCq, CCCU’s LGBTQI Staff Network, hosts a range of activities and events, often in close collaboration with University colleagues across the University and in the LGBT community. For example. this includes inviting academics to host seminars related to LGBT History Month. The Bookshop and Library have also hosted fantastic displays marking LGBT History Month (picture below).

You can find out more about our programme for LGBT History Month 2018 on our blog.

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World AIDS Day

As part of World AIDs Day 2017, we are hosting two events in Medway and Canterbury to show support and solidarity for those living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDs-related illness.

We invite you to attend these two events:

World AIDS Day – Film Screening & Discussion

Date: Friday 01-December-17

Time: 1300-1400

Location: Drill Hall Library (Universities at Medway, North Rd, Gillingham, Chatham Maritime ME4 4AG)

World AIDS Day – Remembrance Vigil

Date: Friday 01-December-17

Time: 17:45-19:00

Location: University Chapel, Canterbury Christ Church University, North Holmes Road Campus, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 1QU

Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th

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