Yesterday, social media was ablaze with the news that whilst on a bus, a lesbian couple were beaten for refusing to kiss for their attackers entertainment. Reading this report, like so many, I was disgusted, I was upset but most of all I was pissed off for a lot of reasons.
Firstly, June is Pride Month, a month long celebration by the LGBTQ+ community where we celebrate our rich and vibrant history. We share in the joy of being unified and the progression we have made over time. Pride is also (and most importantly in my opinion) a protest. Pride is a protest that happens across the world, every year, that will not stop until every member of our community can live authentically and safely. Until everyone in our community can be who they are. Until everyone in our community can get on a bus with their partner and not have to fear being assaulted.
This year, more than most I feel, the usual conversations about having a 'Straight Pride' have emerged. I have yet to see anyone thinking this is a good idea, but I'm sure that more than one person has given a thought as to why there isn't one. This attack is a very clear example of why there isn't one.
Straight people did not wake up yesterday morning, read the news, and silently add another thing onto the list of things they need to be careful when doing, for fear of being homophobically attacked. You probably weren't aware that there were people who were doing that and that's ok. Of course you didn't know that because you didn't have to do it, you have that provelage to not have to do that.
Secondly, this attack exemplifies the intersection of homophobia and misogyny. The people who attacked these women felt they were entitled to see them kiss. They felt they were entitled to these woman's bodies and what was done with them. They felt entitled to assault them for their refusal to comply.
As a male, I am very privileged to not have to fear this happening to me. I am very privileged to not have someone else try to take ownership of my body. These are some of the many privileges that I have as a white, cisgender male.
Now I cannot speak to the same degree about what affect this news has had on women, but I can guarantee that scroll through twitter or do a quick google and you will find many who can.
However, I can speak about what affect this news has had on me as a man. Yesterday all of the news articles stated they were attacked by a group of men. Today, I learnt that 5 males between the ages of 15 and 18 have been arrested in connection with the attack. These were not men. These were boys. These were children. These children believed that they were entitled to these women and their bodies. That sickens me.
We have children who are being taught that this kind of behaviour is acceptable, that demanding that two women kiss for their entertainment is acceptable. They are being taught that LGBT women are lesser than them and as such are there for their own amusement. This is unacceptable.
We need to be teaching boys and men that this is unacceptable. We need to be holding those who think this acceptable accountable. All of us. Not just members of the LGBT community. Not just women. Not just LGBT women. All of us.
I do not for a second believe that all men think this is ok. I am certain that the vast majority do not. However, believing it is not ok and playing a role in trying to stop it are two different things. Men, we can do better. We can play a role in stopping this kind of behaviour. Look at the comments made on the news articles, look at some of the vile language that people are using. You have a voice and a power to be able to stand up and tell these people that this is not ok. You can play a role in working towards living in a future where attacks like this do not happen.