This week has seen many people I know in a state of shock, sadness, grief, horror, fear, frustration, anger, disbelief and desolation, but what I have also seen, is sympathy, empathy, reaching out, coming together, support, alliance, perseverance and strength. People who will not succumb to stigma, discrimination, fear and intimidation, people who will not deny or change who they are because others are uncomfortable or do not like it. People who have fought and died through generations to be who they are, to love who they love, to celebrate and join together to overcome ignorance and division.
LGBTI people are not the only ones who have faced stigma and discrimination because they are a minority, those who are from a minority culture or are differently abled have also experienced discrimination for generations. And the hidden communities of those that are alternative, live on the fringe, that live diverse lifestyles such as kink or BDSM or have diverse relationships such as open or poly also experience being ‘other’ than the majority. Along with this ‘othering’ there can also be secrecy to be safe, another type of ‘being in the closet’, due to lack of understanding by the mainstream. And don’t get me started on those who may be members of several minority groups and the layers of minority stress and stigma they face.
How do LGBTI people, those who enjoy a kink life and those who have unconventional relationships overcome the prejudice of the mainstream?
How do differently abled people be seen as being sexual, let alone sexually or gender diverse?
How do LGBTI people of colour or cultural diversity be accepted in their own culture and the LGBTI community and the mainstream society?
How do we as a society move from intolerance to acceptance and finally celebration of difference and diversity?
The last week has seen people divided, laying blame on culture, faith, societal expectations, and unfortunately has seen hatred raise its ugly head, but through the outpouring of grief I have also seen people asking for understanding, kindness and love. Do not let them divide us.
Maybe you don’t love people of the same sex as you, maybe you don’t have multiple relationships, maybe your kink is different to mine……and maybe we can just all accept each other where we are at.
My hope for the future is that the terrible happenings of the past breakdown some of the barriers to celebrating diversity and that people can practice being kind to each other.
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.