On the 30th April 1999 at 18:37 I remember sitting on Old Compton Street in Soho with a few friends having a drink after my last lecture at University that day and was only 20 years old - but have a memory which will never fade, and for good reason. It was the day when the roads of Soho shook as what we all thought [at the time] was a car crash on Old Compton Street, but turned out to be something far more sinister.
Moments later after hearing the echoing screams of people and the cloud of dust we noticed that an explosion had occurred inside The Admiral Duncan Pub and ultimately three people lost their lives, and countless others were injured due to the nail bomb left there by the later convicted neo-nazi David Copeland. This was a vivid and visceral experience to mark the sheer impact homophobia can have, which can never be erased from memory. The impact on the LGBT community is a constant reminder that hate can diffuse itself in many ways.
Sixteen years later - homophobia still in part exists but it has evolved to have a different set of symptoms associated to it. Homophobia comes in many different forms from bullying in schools to discrimination at work which can be led by gender inequality to ill treatment due to sexuality and stigma due to health status in some individuals, but nonetheless it is still a very real issue.
So to give a real perspective example to the modern day symptoms to homophobia is to show the issues of homelessness due to homophobia. So here is a few bits of information which The Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity specialising in LGBT youth homelessness in the UK, below.
- LGBT young people are more likely to find themselves homeless than their non LGBT peers, comprising up to 24% of the youth homeless population
- LGBT homeless youth are highly likely to have experienced familial rejection, abuse and violence (69%, AKT 2015);
- Whilst homeless, they are significantly more likely to experience targeted violence, sexual exploitation, substance misuse, and physical & mental health problems than other homeless youth.
Today there are still experiences of individuals being made homeless and suffering unnecessarily and for what reason, because of some individual’s intolerant views and some institutions outdated rhetoric, this is a resounding reason to combat this head on and fight it at its core. People died in the past due to people's homophobic views and continue to around the world today. In the UK people are made homeless due to running away from homophobic environments and this needs to end.
The United Kingdom is a pioneer of equality and diversity, we have a vision of inclusiveness and a forward thinking society where love and compassion become the core values of the society we live in.
We at Reading Pride believe in the mission and conviction that homophobic bullying be it in schools, work or on the streets, no one should suffer homophobia in any form and the modern day side effect which includes homelessness which is something which we believe regardless of sexuality, creed or gender should be something anyone suffers from.
Lets fight homophobia together, not apart.
Resources if you are victim to homophobia or homelessness.
The Albert Kennedy Trust - A longstanding charity specialising in helping LGBT youth experiencing homelessness.
Launchpad Reading - A Reading based charity which provides support and a safe environment to those experiencing homelessness in Reading
Support U - A Reading based charity providing information and support for the LGBT community experiencing difficulty with issues including homophobia.