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A Brit Queer: Why are people concerned about LGBTQ+ rights in the wake of the UK election?

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Hello and welcome to A Brit Queer, where a queer woman from Britain splits her time between discussing fun stuff like TV shows and events and serious stuff like the political and social issues facing the LGBTQ+ community in Britain.

Some columns will focus on the lighter side of being gay in the UK, like praising medical drama Holby City for tackling two separate storylines dedicated to same-sex couples at the same time because that level of representation was not something I expected.

However, this is not one of those times.

Today, we’re going to talk about the recent UK elections and what that means for the LGBTQ+ community. I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party, but give me a break, Travel Pride only just launched.

So you’ve probably seen some very confusing coverage of our June election (especially if you live outside of the UK) and I’ll try to break it down as quick as possible.

Wtf happened in the UK election?

House of Commons Chamber- UK Parliament via Wikipedia

First, no single party achieved the 326-seat majority needed to form a government, which resulted in a hung parliament (no, not like that).  You need to get 326 seats in the House of Commons (our elected legislative chamber) because that is exactly half the total seats plus one.

The Conservative Party did, however, get the most number of seats in the election (318) and therefore they get to form a government. They can either rule as a minority government and risk the all the other parties banding together to vote their bills down or seek an alliance with another political party.

Trouble is, our last coalition government was not particularly favourable (I mean, it’s referred to as the ConDem coalition) and the Liberal Democrats, who partnered with the Conservatives, have not really recovered.  In 2015, the first election after the coalition, the Lib Dems plummeted from over 50 seats in the HOC to just eight.

So, the Lib Dems haven’t really been champing at the bit to help out this time. Plus, their current (but soon-to-be-replaced) leader Tim Farron faced a lot of deserved criticism for the time he took to say that being gay wasn’t “sinful” and his voting record on LGBTQ+ rights.

Do not adjust your screen, this really is the 21st century.

So the Conservatives are seeking an alliance with is the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland, who are the only other right-of-centre party to have seats in the HOC.

The trouble is, the DUP have views that are significant to the right of the Conservatives on a few issues, specifically women’s rights to reproductive health, LGBTQ+ rights in general, whether climate change is happening and whether evolution is real.

I’ll give you a minute to stop rolling your eyes.

What does this mean for LGBTQ+ rights?

People are rightly worried about what this means for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the environment, especially when you consider that the UK now has to start negotiating Brexit and gets to decide which laws from the EU that we will and will not keep.

Leaving aside, environmental rights and women’s rights for a hot second, many of the UK’s current LGBTQ+ protections are derived from the EU, such as the right not to be fired based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and if the DUP wanted, they could influence the Conservatives to weaken or scrap these laws.

I mean the DUP gained Northern Ireland’s exemption from the UK’s equal marriage ruling of 2013, when no one really wanted anything from them, despite the other political party in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, supporting same-sex marriage.

Luckily, as of yet, the DUP have not been given positions of power within the Cabinet. I mean, it was unlikely because Labour would not be able to form a majority, but it still scared me sh*tless on June 9. However, the DUP has just scored £1bn from the Conservatives and it is likely that over the course of the current Parliament, the DUP will want more.

Nigel Dodds MP- Northern Ireland Executive via Flickr

Nigel Dodds, the DUP MP for Belfast North, said, during the first Prime Minister’s Questions of the new Parliament, that the money in his constituency would go towards mental health services in Northern Ireland.

That all sounds fantastic, but you know what? LGB people in the UK are twice as likely as straight people to suffer from depression, have suicidal thoughts, and attempt suicide and the rates are even higher for trans people.

Let’s be clear, there are many contributing factors for depression (and I don’t claim to be an expert) but I think we can all see that any existing depression is exacerbated when your elected official is voting against your f*cking rights and when others in his party are describing you as an “abomination”. Like…I can’t… It’s…Urrgh!

What can you do?

If you live in the UK, please write to your MP (especially if they’re a Tory) and explain why you are concerned about a #MayDUP coalition. Remember to be polite, even if you’re angry because it’s more likely they will take you seriously.

Outside of the UK but still worried about a homophobic, sexist voice in the ear of our Prime Minister? Share this with your British friends and ask them to contact their MP.

Tune in next week for a (hopefully) happier column of A Brit Queer, perhaps something about the 50 Shades of Gay Season on Channel 4.

Originally posted 2017-07-11 20:35:53.

Emma is a queer British freelance writer specializing in politics, travel, and entertainment. Barack Obama (yes, that one) follows her on Twitter and she’s never been sure why. She takes her coffee seriously and wears odd socks because life’s too short.

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The Life and Legacy of Edith Windsor

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As many of you may know, Edith Windsor, the pioneer for marriage equality in the United States tragically passed away on Tuesday, September 12th. Because many are upset about her passing (I know I am), it is important to look back and remember all that she had accomplished in her 88 years of life.

Edith Windsor, born Edith Schlain on June 20th, 1929 in Philadelphia to James and Celia Schlain, was a Russian Jewish immigrant and, because of the time in which she was born, her family suffered from the Great Depression. However, Windsor persevered and earned a master’s in mathematics from NYU and eventually joined IBM, where she worked for sixteen years. While in college, Edith met Saul Windsor. Their relationship ended once when Saul discovered that Edith had fallen in love with a female classmate. Edith, however, said that she did not wish to be a lesbian and proceeded to marry Saul. This marriage did not last very long as after a year of her tying the knot, Edith told him that she longed to be with women and they divorced. She then moved from Philadelphia to New York City.  

While in New York, Edith met Thea Spyer. Both in relationships of their own, they had to keep their relationship a secret. While Windsor was working for IBM, she received multiple phone calls from Thea Spyer. In order to conceal her sexual orientation, she told her colleagues that she was speaking to Thea’s brother, a fictitious person named Willy who, comically, was the name of Windsor’s childhood doll.  

“Like countless other same-sex couples, we engaged in a constant struggle to balance our love for one another and our desire to live openly and with dignity, on the one hand, with our fear of disapproval and discrimination from others on the other.”

In 1967, Spyer asked Windsor to marry her. Windsor was again afraid that her sexuality would be discovered, so Spyer proposed to her with a diamond brooch. Unfortunately, Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. Fearing that she would not be alive to see same-sex marriage legalized, they got legally married in Canada in 2007.

Tragically, Thea Spyer passed away in 2009, which left Edith with a large tax bill that heterosexual couples would not have after the death of a spouse because the legal definition of marriage in the US did not include same-sex couples. Sensing the inequality, Edith decided to sue the federal government. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples. This milestone of equality was one of the catalysts that led to the Obergefell vs. Hodges case in 2015 that deemed the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In addition to her pivotal role in achieving marriage equality, Windsor also volunteered with the Gay and Lesbian and Defenders (GLAD), the East End Gay Organization, the LGBT Community Center, and more. Edith Windsor is considered a pioneer for marriage equality and she certainly deserves the title. Thanks to Windsor, same-sex couples across the US can now marry the person they love with the full benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy today. It is my hope that Windsor can inspire others to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community and help fight bigotry around the world. Edith Windsor is unfortunately gone but she will never be forgotten. She will continue to inspire the LGBTQ community to be proud and to fight for the rights they justly deserve.

Originally posted 2017-09-18 18:03:58.


Also published on Medium.

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LGBTQ Fashion Revolutionaries: Steal Their Looks, Steal Their IDGAF Attitudes

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Hearing that a member of the fashion world is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community comes as no surprise – after all, the point of fashion is to bend the rules, be anything but normal, and to accept the extraordinary. It is fashion’s job to shake things up, so it’s no wonder that queer people are the movers and shakers at the helm of this industry.

We’re showcasing the best of the best in queer fashion – those who have broken the mold, stepped outside their comfort zones, and dominated the mainstream.

Alexander McQueen

Known as the “beloved bad boy of fashion,” Alexander McQueen was openly gay, extremely extra, and didn’t care to follow the rules – in fact, one might say he lived to break them. Coming from London ’s East End Givenchy house and moving on to his own label, McQueen was essentially the Mick Jagger of fashion. Known for shaking up the conservative label, McQueen sparked outrage when he moved to the French couture house, following John Galliano as Chief Designer. Once he had his own label, McQueen continued to push boundaries – even liberal ones. His shows were often controversial, and he was famous for creating “bumster” trousers, which essentially displayed a model’s butt cleavage, for lack of a better term. The bumsters were supposed to be a parody of construction workers, an interesting attitude toward class structure. McQueen often drew inspiration from tragedies, obscene events, and people who you would not see at any of his fashion shows.

One of the most memorable traits of McQueen was his I-don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel said of the late McQueen, “he was always interesting, never banal” – high compliments from another gay fashion rebel whose cat has its own Wikipedia page.

Andrej Pejić

An Australian trans model who has referred to herself as “living between genders,” Andreja Pejić is known as the “first completely androgynous trans model.” Starting her career as a male model photographed for Paris Vogue in womenswear, an idea brought forth by yet another fashion phenom, Carine Roitfeld, Pejić is not only taking the modeling world by storm, she’s also venturing into film and walking in the Prabal Gurung show at New York Fashion Week this year.

Pejić has noted that gender dysphoria is not easy to live with, and is an outspoken role model for trans youth around the world.

Tim Gunn

Honestly, do we even need to elaborate on Tim Gunn? Okay, we will, because he’s worth it – the Project Runway mentor is really everyone’s mentor, isn’t he? He’s like the impeccably dressed, kind-hearted, gay dad you never had but always knew you wanted.

Gunn had his beginnings, as many of us now know, as a high school teacher. He taught a design course at Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and from there, went on to eventually teaching at Parsons and becoming an associate dean. Even before Gunn became a teacher, he had to overcome a debilitating stutter and admits that there were quite a few points in his life where he didn’t feel like he could “make it work” – but he did regardless. Gunn is a true inspiration.

Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne is one of the hottest models – and now-actresses – in Hollywood now. A stint as Enchantress in Suicide Squad and as Margo in Paper Towns has turned her into a bona fide movie star. Her career is on fire, but don’t ask her about her sexuality, unless you want to get a clap back. The blunt star has said, in regards to her bisexuality: “My sexuality is not a phase…I am who I am. I think that being in love with my girlfriend is a big part of why I’m feeling so happy with who I am these days.” We’re happy for her, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang is an openly gay designer with a following- the likes of Rihanna, Chloe Sevigny, Azealia Banks, Gisele Bundchen, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga, to name but a few. While recently making headlines as being oblivious to fans and viewers at his New York Fashion Week 2017 show, Wang is nonetheless an incredible fashion force to be reckoned with. The former Creative Director of Balenciaga, Wang has since gone on to start his own line and collaborate with H&M.

While some of the aforementioned icons are just beginning their careers, some are right in the middle, and some have tragically had their lives cut short, none seem to be without controversy (except for maybe our angel baby Tim Gunn). Whether good or bad, these revolutionaries have changed the fashion industry; time will tell what their ultimate thumbprint on the runway will be.

Originally posted 2017-09-18 16:54:51.

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These Are the Gays of Our Lives: Life Advice from a Big Ol’ Mo: Coming Out, Fitting In, Quote of the Week

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Welcome to ‘These Are the Gays of Our Lives: Life Advice from a Big Ol’ Mo!’ where we’ll talk about life issues, answer some of your questions, and work through some of the challenges facing the gay community. So, feel free to ask anything you’d like using the form below. Let’s jump right in with the first two questions!

Dear Gays of Our Lives,

I’m unhappy. I’m unhappy with my relationship, I’m unhappy with my job, I’m unhappy with my family. I know it all stems from not being comfortable enough with myself and my sexuality to come out of the closet, but there are a lot of issues surrounding me coming out. My family would have problems with it, my colleagues would, and I don’t think I’m really ready to make that kind of leap for my boyfriend. He’s not pressuring me to come out or anything, but it certainly puts a strain on our relationship. What should I do?

Sincerely, 

It’s Dark in this Closet…

My Dear Dark In This Closet,

I understand your pains. I, too, felt that I could not come out to my friends and family. My dad was always so manly, my mom was always worried about what others would think, and I worked in a religious environment. But I found peace with deciding to tell my friends and family, but that’s something that can only be done on your own time. There’s no gay timeline that says you have to come out by a certain age, or for anyone. Coming out is a big decision, and you can’t be forced into it. Take your time. If your boyfriend loves you and isn’t pressuring you, then don’t worry about it. Sure, it’ll make things easier if you come out, but that’s on you to decide when the timing is right. Until then, hug your man extra tight and thank him for not pressuring you and for loving you just the way you are. 

Wishing you the very best, 

The Big Ol’ Mo

Dear Big Ol’ Mo,

I’m having trouble finding a place where I “fit in” and a group of friends with whom I feel comfortable. What should I do?

Best, 

New Here

Dear New Here,

I wish I could tell you that feeling goes away with age, but we all feel a little out of place, or like we don’t fit in from time to time, especially in the gay community. With all the different labels we put on ourselves, like Twink, Otter, Bear, Chaser, Chub, Kink, Boy, Sir, etc it can be difficult to figure out where you belong. My advice, try to find people of like-minded interests. Meetup.com is especially great for this. There are Meet-Ups for every gay sub-culture and every activity under the sun. Twink who likes to play volleyball? There’s one of those. Bear who likes to play video games? Yep. That, too. There’s something for everyone! 

Also, don’t be afraid to get out there and try new bars and clubs. Most of them have different themes and crowds, so experiment a little bit. Try talking to people, making friends, etc. Even if it’s just for the night, it’s better than sitting at home alone! 

I wish you the best of luck at finding your place. You’ve got this!

Sincerely, 

The Big Ol’ Mo

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I never felt I had anything to hide. I never felt being gay was anything to be ashamed of, so I never felt apologetic. I didn’t have issues with it, didn’t grow up with any religion, so I didn’t have any religious, you know, issues to deal with as far as homosexuality is concerned. So, I accepted it very easily. For me, it wasn’t that big a deal.” -Martina Navratilova

Do you have a question for the Big Ol’ Mo? Fill out the form below!

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Originally posted 2017-09-16 12:21:48.

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