Image by Jordan McDonald via Unsplash

Listening to Same love by Macklemore in my early teen years, I was always careful not to let on that I actually did like the song a lot, lest I’d have to face up to “that’s weird” or “that’s disgusting” comments from my peers. Years later, I still very much enjoy listening to it, only that now I do so with no self-contempt whatsoever because I’ve come to understand the invaluable importance of its message – a message about taking a stand against the unjustified oppression and marginalization of queer folks.

Initially, I only had a limited understanding of what “same love” really meant which was mostly due to the fact that all I had to base my assumptions on was the “Sodom and Gomorrah” story coupled with the rushed discussions during religious education lessons about homosexuality being categorized under “abuse of sex” listed along with incest, fornication, bestiality, rape, and even pedophilia. However, over the years, I’ve tasked myself to learn more about queerness and to be frank, the reality of it doesn’t even come close to what teachers taught in school or even what I heard about it. I’ve come to realize that it is a simultaneously simple and complex concept of our humanity that must first of all be approached with a willingness to let the mind dig far beyond the rigid frames of what we have been taught is the “only way to be”.

Both queer and non queer folks, have all been, for the most part, trained from childhood to view themselves and the world at large from a heteronormative perspective and in turn expect their lives to unfold in alignment with that. For queer folks, in spite of having been taught all the same things and even urged to expect the outcomes to be right in line with society’s code of normalcy, things just don’t happen for them like that. As queer folks grow up, for some even before they reach puberty, they realize that nothing is as anyone said it would be – not how they feel about themselves, not their thoughts, not their desires, not their relations with fellow adolescents and sometimes, not their bodies either. For some of them even before they notice that they are “standing out” and evidently not like the rest of the girls or the rest of the boys, the people are around them have already noticed and branded them as misfits long before they even come to the realization that they are queer. More often than not, this escalates into bullying, being isolated by their peers and other forms of aggression that eventually start to take a toll on the psychological and physical health of the queer folks going through it; resulting in feelings of unworthiness and severe self-loathing, loneliness, extreme body and gender dysphoria not to mention depression among others. The aggression towards queer folks doesn’t only end with words because in many cases, they are also beaten, sexually assaulted and some are murdered in cold blood because of their queerness. It’s very disheartening that we exist in a world that condones such brutal acts of violence against its own; and that is why it’s important to advocate for the recognition and respect of the human rights of the queer community.

Thanks to the brave and ceaseless efforts of queer human rights activists and allies, major progress has been made in raising awareness on the issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, but there are still countless obstacles hindering the full recognition and liberation of queer folks’ rights. One of the most challenging hinderances is the fact that motives of the advocacy and support for the LGBTQ+ community are so often misunderstood. Majority of the people that take issue with the idea of granting queer folks their human rights are under the impression that it’s an agenda to “turn them gay” or intrusively disrupt the “moral code”. In many countries, the idea of a “homosexual agenda” has completely closed off the path to the inclusion of queer folks under laws providing security and protection from injustice. Instead, it has perpetuated neglect by the law and unjust criminalization of queer folks resulting in a spike of hate crimes that go unanswered for, leaving victims or their loved ones to deal with the harrowing consequences of the violence.

Taking a stand in support for the rights of queer people is essentially crucial so that queer people’s rights are recognized and observed in all communities. It is a step towards granting queer people the liberty to live freely without fear of being subjected to violence and discrimination, denial of access to healthcare, or dismissed from their jobs, kicked out of their homes, and humiliated by their peers at school on grounds that they are queer. They deserve the right to be safe at home, at work, in public, on the streets, at school, in relationships – everywhere.

Queer folks, like all humans deserve the same equal rights because we’re all here, this world is our shared home, and there’s enough room for us all to exist in full sync with all our nuanced identities.

Leon Inksmitten