Quench are going to be looking at some of the life-changing progress that has been made in the different areas of LGBT+ throughout history. From the new same-sex marriage bill to influential role models – we celebrate just how much has been done for the cause
Lesbian & Gay
Written by: Alexandra Howells
Progress in Section: 2013 turned out to be a pretty exciting year for LGBT+ rights, movements and most importantly, the people. Under Barrack Obama, America has made giant leaps towards equality for same-sex marriage, with ten states recognizing the same-sex right to marriage: Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, California (again), New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico and Utah. Moreover, England and Wales, Brazil, France, New Zealand and Uruguay passed jurisdictions to acknowledge marriage between gay people. There is obviously a long way to go when it comes to same-sex equality, with many countries taking steps backwards like Russia, India, Uganda and Nigeria, to name a few. But, what has been startling is the worldwide response to these regressions, with threats to boycott the Russian Winter Olympics; the support for equality and civil rights for gay people has never been higher. Progress in sport has also been rather significant this year, with a number of well-known athletes coming out. For example, Jason Collins became the first out, gay, male basketball player in North America and was followed by Brittney Griner and many more notable sports persons. It is a shame that the necessity of ëcoming outí still exists. However, when people in the spotlight come out, they become role models for the thousands of homosexual children/teenagers and even adults all over, looking to find some comfort that they are not alone. This is especially important when it comes to sports because of the underlying homophobia that has been present in many teams throughout the years.
Inspirational role models: If I had to choose one it would have to be Edith Windsor, who, in her ninth decade, sued the American government to refund the estate-taxes she had to pay when her wife, Thea, died. She won the battle and went on to fight for the civil rights of gay people and played a part in defeat of section 3 of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act.) It was declared unconstitutional, and it meant that gay couples would be entitled to around 1,100 more federal provisions.
Progress Iíd Like to See: In the short term, I would very much like to see Russia change the heartless stance it has towards homosexuality. And in the long run, a recognition of equal status for gay people in all forms of life: be it marriage, sports, jobs or generally in the public eye. It would be cool, to hold my girlfriendís hand in public without people staring or seeing it as something other than the norm.
Written by: Suryatapa Mukherjee
Progress in Section: Bisexuality was first officially recognised in academia when Alfred Kinsey created the Kinsey scale. The scale established that homosexuality and heterosexuality were only two extremes on a spectrum of sexual orientations. In spite of that, bisexuality as a sexual orientation has had some difficulty being accepted as a reality. Female bisexuality was still accepted as ërealí before male bisexuality was. As recent as the early 2000s a number of studies were conducted to prove that male bisexuality in fact didnít exist. Bisexuality is increasingly understood as a reality even if its concept may not be clear to all. We have a growing number of celebrities shedding the closet and coming out as bisexual without giving a damn. The most recent and popular example of this would be…yes, Tom Daley. Sexual orientations like pansexuality and polysexuality may still be incomprehensible for some outside the LGBT+ community, especially if such people have not yet discovered the fallacy of the gender binary. Thus, these orientations are not as well known as bisexuality yet; but they have taken roots in our lexicon and are here to stay. People are learning about them everyday, and Google can testify to that.
Inspirational People: Laci Green is a part-time sex educator on YouTube and a full-time pansexual. There is no limit to how much one can learn from her, whether about sex and sexuality, or about being a decent human being. Basically, I worship her and you should too. Look her up. Now.
Progress I’d Like to See: There are still many who question bisexuality and others within its umbrella. Bi-erasure is quite prevalent in the media where bisexuality is not recognised.Much like when several news outlets decided to brand Tom Daley gay even though he clearly came out as bisexual. Biphobia is experienced both within and outside of the LGBT+ community. As several studies have discovered, this double discrimination has led to a higher risk of mental health problems among bisexuals. Bisexuals are also less likely come out than homosexuals. It is ironic that homosexuals who happen to be biphobic, often echo the homophobia that they had been (and sometimes still are) subjected to, with notions that bisexuals are promiscuous and the carriers of STIs and STDs.
Written by: Kevin McGowan
Progress in Section: Medical transition has only been an option for the last few generations of transsexuals, and techniques are still constantly evolving. Access to hormones, surgery and other treatments through the NHS are among the most basic steps to equality; these provisions are deplorably slow and difficult to obtain, but the fact that they exist at all would astonish our historical counterparts. Discrimination on the basis of sex reassignment has been illegal for employers since 1999 and for service providers since 2008. The 2004 Gender Recognition Act introduced the Gender Recognition Certificate, a means to be acknowledged as your true gender under the law. However, this only applies to those transitioning from male to female or vice versa – if you donít count as either, youíre out of luck. Regarding public toilets, it doesnít matter what bits you have – the law says to use the ladiesí or the gentsí according to how you live your daily life, and laugh in the face of anyone who tries to stop you (that part is technically optional). Sadly, changing attitudes takes longer, and many of us still face abuse on a regular basis. Community solidarity is crucial to fighting back against unlawful treatment. Social media enables us to publicise our experiences, anonymously if necessary, and receive support from our peers.
Inspiration Role Models: Laverne Cox is not only one of the first trans* actresses to play a trans* character in a mainstream TV series (Netflixís Orange Is The New Black), but also speaks powerfully and eloquently when she advocates for our rights. Her observations on the intersections of trans*phobia, misogyny and racism are fascinating, and her ability to remain patient and positive in the face of these struggles should serve as an example to those who have it easier.
Progress Iíd Like to See: I could fill this whole magazine with demands for the future of the trans* movement. Letís educate children about dysphoria before they hit puberty and discover it for themselves. While weíre at it, letís teach them to respect other peopleís gender expression, so that the next generation of trans* people might escape some of the harassment and violence that characterises our lives today. Letís break down ignorance by taking control of how weíre represented in the media – not as punchlines or sob stories; but as whole, healthy individuals. Ultimately, letís eradicate the gender divisions at the core of our thinking which strangle the individuality of not just trans* and non-binary people, but cis women and men, too. Whether or not you feel the need to change it, you are more than the M or F on your birth certificate and deserve to be recognised as such.
Written by: Jake Smith
Inspirational People: David Jay is an American asexual activist who is best known for creating the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) website in 2001. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, characterised by a lack of sexual attraction towards others. In high school David Jay experienced many of the difficulties that asexual people feel. The feeling they may be ëbrokení. Finding oneís place in a sexualised society. But a community exists today, largely due to his efforts. AVEN is the worldís largest online asexual community with over 70,000 members as of 2013. It provides forums, FAQs and a way for asexuals to talk in a safe and welcoming environment. Beyond AVEN, Jay has been featured in numerous articles and helped raise awareness of asexuality through television interviews.
Another plus individual that springs to mind is Tony Briffa. Briffa was elected as the worldís first intersex Mayor in 2011. Intersex individuals are biologically neither male or female, and may have the biological attributes of both sexes or lack some of those attributes associated with one sex or another. Representing the people of Hobsonís bay in Victoria Australia, Briffa has been open about his intersex identity and has been a keen proponent of the intersex community.
Progress in Section:
Whilst Asexuality is not new, its status as a recognised sexual orientation has been established quickly, in part due to the popularity of AVEN. AVEN inspired pride marches started to be held in the US and UK in 2009. Thereís been increasing media interest, with a prominent six part series on asexuality in the Huffington Post in 2013.The American States of New York have enshrined in law legal protections for asexual individuals and the 2011 documentary (A)sexual chronicled and analysed the communityís rise.
When a child is born intersex, its parents will often follow what has long been the standard medical advice, to have doctors perform surgery to help the child conform to a fixed gender category. This can lead to an intersex individual growing up to identify with a gender different to the sex which resulted from this surgery. In Germany for example, doctors can now register a child as X on their birth certificate, hopefully reducing the pressure on parents to make surgical decisions their child may later regret they made.
Progress I would like to see: There are a wide variety of people that consider themselves plus and Iíd like to see these identities cease to be overlooked in the public debate. However someone identifies, or even if you are unsure your identity, everyone deserves to live in a kind and equal society where you can be happy with yourself.