Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Guest Blog: ‘June is LGBT Pride Month’ by Alan Hooker

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Alan Hooker

Alan Hooker is a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter (UK) whose research looks at God’s penis and divine sexuality in the Hebrew Bible. You can read more from Alan at the BibleHooker blog here and follow on Twitter here

 

[content warning for suicide and anti-queer antagonism]

June is LGBT Pride month.

I’ve seen and heard many people, queer and nonqueer alike, talk about how the concept of pride is useless because we didn’t “earn” our queerness and we didn‘t work for it. But we *do* work for it. Queer people struggle against an environment which is hostile to them. Out queer people and “closeted” queer people and all queer people who inhabit that boundary between in and out are struggling and working.

Recently two trans women of colour, Janell Crosby and Tyra Woods, were “attacked, beaten, and stripped” on a train in Atlanta, Georgia. Onlookers didn’t step in to help, but a fair few of them did find the time to record the attack with their phones. They were attacked by men who wanted to know if these women were “real”. They were beaten because they dared to be and to exist.

The struggle for LGBT rights is not over. 1 in 3 bisexual and lesbian women experience bullying in the workplace and there are studies which suggest 2 in 3 gay teenagers in the UK have contemplated suicide and many unfortunately have.

17-year-old Jack Reese from Utah committed suicide in 2012 due to homophobic bullying. At the start of this year 20-year-old Azerbaijani gay rights activist Isa Shakhmarli also took his life by hanging himself with a rainbow pride flag. In his suicide note Shakhmarli wrote: “the world cannot handle my true colours”.

At the end of last year a 14-year-old trans teenager Alexis/Landon Lopez took their own life because of bullying. Another 14-year-old, Ayden Keenan-Olsen, overdosed fatally after being the victim of homophobic and racist bullying. His mum said that he “had found somebody he thought he loved” and that he planned to start his own anti-bullying campaign. And in Rome in 2013, yet ANOTHER 14-year-old took his life because he was gay and didn’t know how to make himself “acceptable” to his family.

There are many, many more names I could sadly add to this list. Pride is needed because too many LGBT people have become statistics in reports on suicide and anti-LGBT violence.

In the UK we now have same-sex marriage, but that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t tackle the culture of negativity surrounding queer people. If people don’t step up and address this issue, many queer children and teens aren’t going to live long enough to get married if they want to.

Trans people are regularly denied housing and jobs because of their gender identities. 1 in 5 transgender people in the US have experienced homelessness, while 20-40% of homeless youth in the US are LGBTQ.

We need pride because silence is death. I am proud to be a queer person and any non-queer person who thinks pride is not needed can take a fucking seat and shut the fuck up. Your negative opinions and questioning about our taking pride in our achievements, our existence, our lives, our loves, is what contributes to all of the above.

To any queer person reading this, you are not wrong. You are not disgusting. You are not broken. You don’t deserve hell. You are worthy to be loved and the love you give is real. Your words are important and your voice matters. You are not an “it”; you are a person whose identities are worth respect; your humanity doesn’t deserve to be questioned.

Be you. If you are closeted, you are not lesser than the people who are “out”. We all live under a heteronormative, enforced regime. You are not at fault and you are doing nothing wrong with how you choose to live your queerness.

 

LGBT Month copy

 

 

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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