This Saturday 17 May, we mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. IDAHOT was created a decade ago to commemorate that moment in time, May 17 1990 when the World Health Organization’s declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
On this day we take whatever action we can to challenge and shine a light on a prejudice that can embed itself into every part of our lives. From the homophobic or transphobic slurs yelled at us as we walk home, the bullying on the job, the stares, the gossip, the stigma around our HIV status, the family rejection and the legislation that prevents us from either marrying or staying married (post gender transition) to those we love.
There are strong links between homophobic and transphobic abuse and feeling unsafe, excessive drug use, self-harm and suicide attempts. These threads of violence though, can create a tapestry of community, of chosen family that is stronger than the flimsy sheet of prejudice.
This year, ACON’s Anti-Violence Project has provided a series of small grants to community groups to help them create an activity or event that brings IDAHOT into their local community. The initiative has fostered a range of events in various locations in Sydney and regional NSW and include several community forums, an IDAHOT fair with stalls and performances, a trivia night, and the launch of a special IDAHOT poster initiative.
ACON has also teamed up with ReachOut.com to work with a bunch of talented filmmakers and young storytellers to produce five digital stories. The storytellers share their own experiences in coming to terms with their sexuality and/or gender and how they were able to navigate through those early years to the space of strength and resilience they now embody. The Freedom Stories aim to support LGBTQ people who may be going through something similar.
For many in our communities, every day is a day against homophobia and transphobia but on May 17 everyone can stand together to shout, sing, whisper, write that enough is enough.
You can check out each of the inspiring Freedom Stories below:
It gets boring