Last week, I took some time off from life to just exist. My mental health needed the break, but so did my physical health. I have been doing this for 5 years now and I’ve never really stopped to do nothing. I have been mulling over the topics that I could cover for my return this week, do I come back to tell you that my dating life is once again, an absolute mess? Do I try and fill the space with a round up of the best TV of the week or do I try and give you all another funny anecdote from the mess that has become my life? I tried all of that, I even contemplated another week off, but the truth is that I just couldn’t sit silent in a world that is so full of noise right now.
Each year, June rolls around and so begins my favourite time of year, Pride season. Cities across the world hold incredible events, and for a short period of time, we get to live at the forefront of our lives, giving ourselves an opportunity to live freely and proudly. Unfortunately, current circumstances of a global pandemic mean that we’ve had to hit pause on a time of year that makes me all warm and mushy inside. But we still have June. We still have Pride month. We still have a chance to use this time to educate those around us, to help people understand why we refuse to be silenced. We can use this time to remember our journey, and the journey of those before us, who paved the way for the freedom, protection and visibility that we have today. There is still a long way to go, and there are issues that we need to tackle, both outside and inside the community. The lives of our Trans brothers and sisters are still under constant threat. Within the community, suicide rates are highest in Trans youth than they are anywhere else. We need to support each other. We need to take care of each other. For some of us, our community are the only family we have, the only ears who will listen to our problems. I beg you to use this time to open your ears.
The lives of our Black brothers and sisters is an issue that we need to address too. It took a global protest for Grindr to remove their horrifically racist and highly controversial preference tab. I am glad it has finally happened, but I think we can all agree that it happened far too late. Too many lives have already been affected by that filter. I understand that Grindr works for some, but it has never worked for me. It has never been an app of genuine connection. It’s like standing in the school playground waiting to be picked last for the game.
But what is happening this week is so much bigger than any of us can fully understand, I think. The death of yet another innocent black man at the hands of the police struck a chord with all of us. The Black Lives Matter movement has really pushed through this week with an agenda that I think we can all get behind. It’s not about All Lives Matter, because quite frankly, all lives cannot matter until black lives matter. I have spent some time mulling over this topic. I have donated everything I can to various movements and charities. I have tweeted, I have shared messages to my story. I have written to my local MP and I have tried to use my platform to share the importance of this movement. But it’s not enough. It almost feels patronising for me, a white male, to be trying to help a movement that I am immune from. This week, I have taken a hard look at my privilege, which is a privilege I never saw until now. Because of the colour of my skin, I am statistically proven to be more successful. It’s easier for me to get a good education, a solid career. I have immunity and safety that I never asked for, and I certainly never earned. It’s so simple, yet so complicated at the same time. Because of my skin colour – which I didn’t choose – I hold a level of protection that people who were born with a different skin colour – which they didn’t choose either, don’t have. I will never understand racism. I will never understand how people can be angry, show prejudice and even be capable of murdering somebody for something they have literally no control over.
None of us chose to be white, or black, or hispanic or latino or asian or any other colour.
None of us chose to be straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans, queer or any other gender/sexuality.
None of us chose to be who we are, and yet it seems the be the one thing that divides us globally.
The things we cannot change are the things we have to spend our entire lives fighting for.
The lives of LGBTQ+ people and the lives of people whose skin isn’t white almost run on parallel tracks at times. We have to fight every single day for equality. We have to fight every single day to fit in, to become part of a society that has spent so long pushing us away. We were the kids picked last for football. We were the ones who had to cover up parts of our identity in order to fit in. The ones who have to march every year just to be heard.
In 1969, Marsha P. Johnson was a prominent figure in the Stonewall Riots. The event that paved the way for Pride as we know it. For the freedom and for equality as we’ve come to understand it today. We owe everything to Marsha P. Johnson, who if you didn’t know, was a black transgender woman. She stood up for us. She rose against the system for us. As a community, we owe everything to her. As a community, I think we can all agree that it’s time we stand up for others in return. We know how it feels. We know it is to be isolated, cut off from society.
In the words of Marsha herself; “You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.”
No new music this week, pals. Instead I want to leave you with some ways that you can help the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Write to your local MP (find your local MP at https://www.writetothem.com)
- Donate to the official George Floyd GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
- Donate to the Black LGBTQ+ Therapy Fund – a movement that hopes to provide therapy and mental health support for Black LGBTQ+ in the UK: https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-lgbtqia-therapy-fund
- Donate to the The Bail Project, which provides free bail assistance to individuals who are legally innocent but may not have the funds: https://bailproject.org
- This weekend, on Saturday 6th (1:00pm) of June at Greys Monument in Newcastle, and Sunday 7th June (2:00pm) at the US Embassy in London, there are peaceful protests planned.
- Educate yourself. Read up on what you can do to help those in your life. If you want to plant yourself into a book, then try reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Renni Eddo-Lodge, available here at Waterstones. Or, you the book is available on Audible which comes with a 30 day trial.
- Sign the official Whitehouse petition calling for justice for George Floyd. (You can do this from the UK, too. All you need to provide is your email address): https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/justice-george-floyd-0
Finally, if you want to watch an insightful video on how you can help the BLM financially without any money, then watch this video. It is full of Adverts, but the revenue of these YouTube Ads is going to support causes for black people, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and black artists in the music industry.
Look after yourselves. Look after each other.