Orlando Shooting: Why the Fight for LGBT Rights is Far From Over

Orlando Shooting: Why the Fight for LGBT Rights is Far From Over

Pride month. A month that was supposed to be spent in celebration. A month that up until Saturday, was being spent in celebration. Celebrating the simple right to love, to be a part of a community and to simply exist without oppression.

On Saturday night, that’s exactly what members of the LGBT community were doing during Latin Night at a popular gay club, Pulse, in Orlando.

A nightclub. A place of enjoyment and positivity. A place where LGBT+ people could go and feel accepted, free and quite simply – themselves. A safe place.

A safe place, up until around 2 am. Up until 2 am when a man decided to walk through the doors with an assault rifle in one hand and a handgun in the other, and start firing.

50 were killed and 53 were injured, making this the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history.

This was a hate crime. This was a crime committed by a homophobic man who decided that because he didn’t like how people chose to identify and chose to live, he had the right to take away their lives. Pulse was targeted because it was a gay club and in the process, the entire LGBT+ community was targeted too. I’ll say it again so it sinks in, this was a hate crime.

And please, refrain from bringing religion into this. Terrorism has no religion. This crime was not committed because of his religion, but because of his homophobia which has been made all the more evident as it’s been revealed by his Dad that he was angry after seeing two men kissing prior to the attack. So please, stop the Islamophobia and acknowledge this crime for what it was.

Violence and harassment is a common reality that thousands of LGBT+ people have to deal with every single day and the events of Saturday night have only highlighted this shocking reality even further. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by it.

And it’s worth mentioning too, to the multiple show runners who have been conforming to the Bury Your Gays Trope, that killing your LGBT characters, especially by stray bullets, is not fictitious and is not something that you can defend. By doing this, you are only enforcing what is tragically happening in reality and depriving a community of another safe haven where they were able to find satisfaction and acceptance through representation.

Nobody should have to live in fear because of their sexuality or identification. Nobody should have to fear for their lives. But if something doesn’t change, how can this be stopped? Homophobia does not just offend. It does not just revoke acceptance. It kills. Homophobia has resulted in the deaths of 50 people. And that is exactly why the fight for LGBT rights is far from over.

If you do not speak up, or at the very least refuse to accept the heteronormativity that has been instilled into you, progression will not be made.

Hate cannot triumph. Hate that stems from being unable to come to terms with how a person chooses to love and live. Does that not seem incomprehensible to you? Feeling hatred towards the right to love? Love. Is. Love. And as Lin Manuel-Miranda so beautifully said last night in his Tony acceptance speech: “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Progression has to be made. The fight for LGBT rights has got to be fought for.  And I know, that sitting here and writing this may not be resulting and will not match the ability to directly act. That, I know. But we have to raise our voices. We have to be heard. Refusal to act and to speak up and demand for change, demand for what is fundamentally right and humane, that refusal will not benefit anyone. It’s detrimental.

If you’re heterosexual, do not allow homophobic remarks to simply be common language. Challenge it, refuse it, just please do anything but accept it. This is a fight that cannot be fought alone.

If you thought that after the legalisation of gay marriage and quite simply with us just being in the 21st Century that the world was finally an accepting place, then I truly hope that the devastating events in Orlando have opened your eyes. It is far from it. We have to keep moving forward and we cannot allow these events to let us go backwards.

March on with pride and with remembrance of those that have been lost. No one should feel ashamed of who they are. No one should be forced to hide away. No one should feel fear when walking down a street, or into a shopping centre, or into a school, or into a nightclub.

Every single member of the LGBT community deserves better than that. Better than this, than what our world has forced them to have to put up with. Fight for equality. Fight for acceptance. Fight for humanity.

 

You can help to support the victims of the Orlando shooting by donating here.

I’m With Amber

I’m With Amber

(TRIGGER WARNING: ABUSE)

I’m With Amber because victims shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.

I’m With Amber because victims shouldn’t be assumed to be liars.

I’m With Amber because no case of abuse should ever be justified or defended.

I’m With Amber because our support for all victims of abuse should be shown.

Late last week it was brought to the headlines that Amber Heard had filed for divorce with Johnny Depp, and it later arose that she had made a claim of domestic violence against him, which was taken to court where she was then rightfully granted a restraining order.

Photographic evidence also emerged of Amber’s bruised face, it was stated that this was where Depp had hit his phone against her. She also brought forward previous encounters of both physical and verbal abuse throughout their marriage.

For full details of the story and evidence you can read here.

Almost instantly, people swept to Depp’s defence claiming that “he could never do such a thing” and “she must be lying”, without even giving it a second thought.

Amber Heard has recorded evidence of the attack(s), she contacted the police, has witnesses to the assaults, filed for divorce, has taken it to court, has been granted a restraining order and she is fighting to get away from her abuser. She took all the necessary and advised steps that a person should do in the situation…Yet, people’s first instinct is still to believe it’s a lie?

The media (and public) are constantly emphasising how important it is for victims to speak out about abuse, yet when they do, they’re hounded for it and branded as liars. The same happened when Kesha came forward and also after Chris Brown’s attack on Rihanna, and the exact same thing is happening now Amber has spoken up.

The amount of courage it must take to be able to speak up about abuse is unimaginable and until you’re put in that situation, you have no idea what it feels like. Not only have you got the trauma of the events embedded into you and the fear of your abuser – but there’s then the added pressure of coming out with it. So imagine the strength it must have taken for her to not only take it to the police, but also having known it would be brought to the whole world’s attention too.

Then imagine seeing everyone instantly tear you apart for it and disregard your claims.

What hope does that give for other victims? Seeing that this is what happens when you speak up? Would you really rather people bottle it up and live a life of fear, than stand up for themselves?

If the media’s victim-blaming wasn’t already enough, they’re also being outrageously biphobic about her. Are they really trying to use her being bisexual to defend his actions? Or to invalidate and villainize her? Because either way it’s ridiculously offensive and completely unnecessary.

“Bye bi, Amber: Johnny Depp ‘driven insane over fears his wife had cheated on him with supermodel Cara Delevigne'”, “Did Amber Heard’s lesbian friends have an impact on her marriage?” and other constant referrals to Amber as just his “bisexual wife” are just a few of the reports being made all over the press. Trying to claim that a person cannot be faithful to their partner just because of their sexuality, is disgusting. In fact to put it simply, any biphobic reports you are making  in general are disgusting.

Her sexuality may be related in the fact that 61% of women who report abuse identify as bisexual, which is an alarmingly high statistic and definitely an issue that needs to be addressed, yet the media decide to take a negative and offensive approach instead.

Amber has been granted a restraining order against Depp, showing the legal system supports her and that there is clearly sufficient evidence against him for them to do so. Yet, people are STILL insisting that she MUST be lying?

Just because you may have formed your own opinion of a person, does not mean you necessarily have any understanding of what they could be like behind closed doors. And this goes for any abusers. They can put on a front. They can have more than one side to them. Just because a person has encounters of being giving and kind, does not mean they aren’t necessarily capable of being anything other than that.

I see that people are proclaiming he should be “innocent until proven guilty”, and when you have been a fan of someone for so long and had a certain perception of them, it can be hard to see them in a different way. But do you not understand how important the need for victim support is compared to that?

Imagine how horrifying it must be for anyone who’s been watching all these reports and who is a victim themselves, seeing the onslaught of hate for Amber Heard just over her coming forward and the influx of support there is for an abuser. What confidence does that give them? What reassurance does it provide?

This is not something we should be showing to those people, we should be showing that in any case, the victim should be supported. That it’s okay to speak up. That you are not alone and that your case will be heard. This is a worldwide issue and how it’s represented and reported means much more than anyone could ever possibly imagine.

If you want more information on domestic abuse, are experiencing it yourself, or know of anyone who is – you may be able to find sufficient help at one of these two websites:

National Domestic Violence Hotline 
Victim Support

Since When Does ‘Too Female’ Not Work in TV?

Since When Does ‘Too Female’ Not Work in TV?

New ideas for TV shows are constantly being thought up of and ultimately, in most cases, this leads to network pitches to try and make the show available to audiences. Now it’s pretty obvious that not every show can be picked up, so rejection is very common and the reasoning behind the rejection, in most cases, is pretty justifiable or at least understandable. But to reject a show simply because it is “too female” is a statement I honestly never expected to ever hear. Yet this is exactly what happened with the new reboot of Nancy Drew.

‘Drew’, written and produced by former Grey’s Anatomy show runners Tony Phelan and Joan Rater was set to be a contemporary TV adaptation of Nancy Drew, starring Sarah Shahi as Nancy – now in her 30s and working as a detective for the NYPD.

It’s painfully clear just how powerful a show like this could be as the novels in which it’s based upon have had worldwide sales of around 80 million copies. So clearly not only does “too female” work, but the show already has an existing audience, and having a female lead would have undoubtedly pulled in even more viewers.

Also taking into account the fact that ‘Person of Interest’ star Sarah Shahi is set to be the lead of the show would have most definitely given ‘Drew’ an even bigger boost, as not only is she a powerhouse of a performer with a strong fan-base, but she’s a WOC- meaning it would have provided greater diverse representation to an audience that is severely lacking it and would thus make the show stand out even more in the market.

So what exactly is “too female”? An explanation would be greatly appreciated as I’m eager to hear what about this show was the nail in the coffin. In my eyes, it seems CBS just saw “female lead” and instantly some men shook in their seats at the utter thought of a positive and powerful portrayal of a woman. Seriously though, what scares them more – the thought of a female in a lead role? Or the thought of a female being in a lead role and people actually wanting to watch it?

What’s even more outrageous with CBS’ rejection is that the pilot did in fact test well with audiences, clearly showing that it is something that people would watch and invest their time in, yet obviously any association with women completely overrules this.

51% of the worlds population is female, so please inform me as to how a show being “too female” would not be of any interest to that demographic? Are you seriously just going to blacklist that entire market? And anyway, it’s not like the show would fail to appeal to men either – as CBS just in case you were confused – this isn’t 1920 and you do not need to completely assume only women would be interested in a show starring a woman.

Why are they trying to justify “too female” as a reason for rejection anyway? It’s been proven on countless occasions that “too female” creates mass network success and popularity amongst all audiences. Just take a look at the Netflix hits ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ and Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Scandal’ which both draw in millions of viewers every week.

I mean come on, how many times have we all seen the same male-driven-dramas be reproduced over and over again on our screens? Please just give us some change, give us some diversity and give us some decent representation. If we were to take away every show that was “too male”, “too white” or “too straight” there would be very little left for anyone to watch.

We need diversity in TV and if a show that’s going to provide millions of people with a strong and empowering character to look up to gets rejected for being “too female”, what chance do the rest of producers looking to get their show on air have?

This isn’t CBS’ first big mistake though, as they’ve already released the hit show ‘Supergirl’ to the CW. (Whether this is a good thing or not after the treatment of women on The 100, though, is a completely different story). Why did they move it off CBS? I think the reason behind the move is painstakingly obvious now as the network clearly has an issue with women in TV. Interestingly (and rather too conveniently) they had absolutely no issue picking up the new male-centric shows such as ‘Training Day’ and ‘MacGyver’, were they not “too male” for you? Or did you forget to send the memo that nothing could ever be “too male”? My bad.

But thanks CBS, not only have you showcased your ridiculous sexist standards but you’ve made the world all the more aware of ‘Drew’, so here’s hoping that it finds it’s place in TV where it’s potential can be showcased, and thanks to your idiocy, we’re all now ready and waiting to tune in the second the pilot airs on our screens.

Are You Supporting the Race for Life?

Are You Supporting the Race for Life?

The Race for Life is a UK event undertaken by women all across the country, raising money for Cancer Research to help fund the fight for a cure for cancer. To this date, over £547 million has been raised for the charity through the Race for Life and this number is continuing to increase each and every year.

Whether you’re a runner, jogger or walker – the race is open to you. Perhaps you know someone fighting a battle with cancer, or perhaps you’re fighting one yourself. Maybe you’ve lost someone close to you or you simply want to help a cause that’s fighting for a cure. Whatever your reason and whatever your story – you can support the Race for Life.

I’ve just signed up for the race this year with my mum, making it the 8th year in a row that we will have taken part in the event. A 5K run is absolutely nothing compared to the awful experiences that thousands of men and women have to go through when battling cancer, so we don’t even need to contemplate whether or not to do it.

Having known people who have lost their battle to cancer and who are fighting through it currently also helps to motivate us both to sign up each year and to try and do our bit for the cause.

There are nearly 300 different races across the UK, so you’re sure to be able to find your nearest event. Maybe you’re content with running it by yourself but also try and see if you can get as many people involved as you can, perhaps sign up with a group of friends, colleagues or even some family members. As well as it being for an incredible cause, it also makes for a really fun and atmospheric day out!

 

If you can’t take part in the Race for Life, you can still show your support by donating online to the charity. Any donation, no matter how big or small, would be a great contribution to helping the fight for cancer.

My mum and I have set up our own individual Race for Life Just Giving page where we will be raising money (all of the money goes directly to the charity), so if you do want to make a donation you can also do that by clicking the link below!

JustGiving - Sponsor me and support the Race for Life!

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope I may have inspired at least a few people to help support the Race for Life, if you’re unable to undertake the race or donate then hopefully you’re at least a little bit more informed on what it is and you can give it a go next year!

Why It’s Time to Break Down Gender Norms and Stereotypes

Why It’s Time to Break Down Gender Norms and Stereotypes

We’ve heard it all before. “Blue is for boys, pink is for girls”. “You can’t have that, it’s a boys toy”. “You can’t wear that, it’s too ‘girly'”. Colours, toys, just about everything you could possibly think of is having a gender put onto it. If a baby boy is born then he’s got to be given a blue balloon. If a young girl wants to take part in a sport, it should be dance or gymnastics. If a young boy wants to take part in a sport, it should be football. What year is this? 1832?

For some people and parents, it’s pretty instinctual as it’s just what’s naturally been integrated into them from birth, so they often do these things subconsciously. Most of us probably don’t mean to do it, but that doesn’t mean things can’t be changed and that it’s acceptable. I can’t even count all the times I’ve been in a shop and witnessed someone depriving their son or daughter of a certain item just because they consider it to be more suited for the other gender. It’s an inanimate object. A simple piece of plastic or fabric. Why do you need to put a gender on that?

But this isn’t just an issue amongst parents and their children. Gender stereotypes have been present in society for many years and it’s high time we pushed to break them down. These stereotypes are present in every aspect of our lives, including our careers.

If a woman wants to be a mechanic or a boxer it’s deemed “unfeminine”. If a man wants to be a nurse or even a stay-at-home dad it’s considered “unmasculine”. The ideas of masculinity and femininity in my eyes are completed fabricated by society and there is no logical reason as to why certain characteristics and behaviours should be categorised to specific genders. How about we stop restricting people from pursuing their passions and just let them get on with it instead?

Wear what you want, do what you want. Don’t feel restricted by what society deems to be a gender norm.

This issue is all the more relevant in the wake of Prince’s death too, his legacy of breaking down gender norms and opening people’s minds up to the whole spectrum is an incredible part of history that shan’t be forgotten. His bold fashion statements not only allowed him to embrace himself, but also opened up thousands of minds to the idea of breaking away from “gender rules”.

Gender goes so far beyond just male and female and society has slowly been growing to accept that, although this isn’t to say that it’s not still an issue that needs to be massively fought for. Gender is a spectrum. Open your eyes and realise this. Some people may identify as agender, some gender fluid and others transgender. Whatever your identity, you should still be accepted and not shoved aside by society for not fitting into what has traditionally been considered to be the norm.

Anatomy does not always define gender. Not everyone’s gender corresponds to their biological sex and by asserting gender roles onto a child from a young age and even continuing it into adulthood it can often make expression and a feeling of acceptance much harder for them compared to that of a cisgender individual.

By eliminating these roles and stereotypes, the judgement that is being placed upon everyone on the spectrum can hopefully be removed and acceptance and happiness can hopefully overrule and the world may become a slightly better place to live in.

So keep your mind wide open and allow for stereotypes to be defied. Express yourself in whatever way you wish and allow others to do the same. Don’t make anyone afraid to stand up and stand out for who they are and who they want to be.

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