There are increasing movements forwards with legislative battles with our rights – a new trans bill in Canada, marriage equality in Britain, France and various parts of the US, municipal anti-discrimination laws in various cities and even a battle in the Ukraine which was rather surprising. Of course, it’s not all going forwards everywhere, far from it, but there’s a lot of excitement.
There’s also a sense that “zomg we’ve nearly won” primarily from straight allies, coupled with a sense of “the GBLT rights movement has moved so quickly!”
I have to burst the bubble on both. Starting, perversely with the second one.
The whole idea of “the GBLT rights movement has moved so quickly” is based on that pervasive myth that we only appeared in 1960 and that the first piece of GBLT activism was Stonewall. Both of which are wrong. GBLT people have existed as long as people have existed – and we have been fighting for centuries. The first attempted same-sex marriage in the UK happened in 1680 and Molly houses were a fixture of the 19th century. France decriminalised “sodomy” after the revolution, Germany had, in the 1920s a vast amount of pro-GBLT activism
And this is from a frankly extremely amateur view of history since I make no claims of being a historian. But even the most cursory search finds not only our existence the earliest times but a centuries old battle against persecution. To call the GBLT rights movement a young or a new movement is to spit in the face of these people who fought – and who died – and who straight history has long forgotten. We have not moved quickly, it has been a long slow fight that has been denied so long that it’s only recent victories for basic LEGAL PROTECTIONS that have finally accelerated.
Now addressing the first point. Winning these battles means we win the SIMPLE part – and not close to being done. The COMPLICATED is, in many ways, only just beginning.
Firstly, let’s be clear that SIMPLE doesn’t mean EASY, nor does it mean UNIMPORTANT. It means we know pretty much exactly what to do and, in many ways, how. I know how to walk to London. One foot in front of the other isn’t complex. Walking that distance in this weather would be arduous, painful and an incredible feat – Simple but difficult.
And achieving equality under law: Hate crimes protection, anti-discrimination protection, marriage equality – are extremely difficult, powerful achievements – and they’re simple. Simple because we know exactly what has to be done – the law has to change and we know how that is done. Difficult to do, but simple in terms of process
And important because these form not only essential tools, but also a foundation. It’s an impossibly powerful message of inequality when the laws treat us as lesser citizens; it’s a loud message. It’s hard to get people to listen to you demanding acceptance, respect and challenging hate when the law of the land is roaring “ACTUALLY! HATE THESE FOLKS! HATRED IS FINE! TOTALLY LESS THAN YOU! LESSER CITIZENS! ACCEPTABLE TARGETS, GET THEM HERE!” It’s a foundation and without it, building anything is going to be shaky