18 - June 1, 2005 - Canadian National Day Against Homophobia
The first Wednesday of June is the Canadian National Day Against Homophobia. This year, National Day Against Homophobia is June 1. Information about the National Day Against Homophobia can be found at www.homophobiaday.com.
Today, we can reflect for a few minutes on the cost of homophobia. As a society, we've paid a high cost for homophobia. The cost has been the lives of talented gay youth and adults. Two of the well-known cases of homophobia include Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was brutally murdered, and Aaron Webster, a Canadian gay man who was beaten to death. Unfortunately, the violent crimes against gays and lesbians continue.
The cost goes beyond murders of gay men and women. Some gay and bisexual men and women tend to internalize the hatred they see in society. Because society tends to hold a negative view of gay people, some gay people internalize that homophobia. As a result, some gay people struggle with either self-hate or low self-esteem. When a gay person is killed in a town or city, there is a tendency for gay and bisexual individuals to be afraid for their personal safety. Some gay people live with almost chronic fear.
There are a few things we can do to help reduce the problem of homophobia. A few of those things are as follows:
On the National Day Against Homophobia, gay and bisexual people can also do significant things to reduce homophobia. Just a few things gay and bisexual people can do to reduce homophobia are listed below:
- Parents of young children can talk about gay people using positive words. This will help teach straight children and teens to accepted gay and bisexual people. Gay and bisexual children and youth can grow up with a sense that their families love them.
- Establish and maintain healthy, supportive relationships with gay and bisexual people. Make sure gay and bisexual youth and adults know they are loved, appreciated and accepted, and are important to others.
- Use gay friendly language. Try to use complimentary words to refer to gay people.
- Have pamphlets or books about homosexuality that can be shared with people who are questioning their sexuality.
- Do not assume all people are straight. Try to use language that is appropriate for people regardless of their sexual orientation. For example, the word partner can be used instead of husband or wife.
- Celebrate yourself and your sexuality. Make the National Day Against Homophobia a day to show only love and respect for yourself. Refuse to dwell on any negative thoughts about yourself all day. Treat yourself with a special supper for living a day without self-hate.
- Make a list of things you love about yourself. Post the list on your mirror or fridge. Resolve to read the list daily.
- Write down the names of gay people you respect and admire.
- Study gay history and culture.
- Report incidents of gay bashing and other crimes based on sexual orientation to the police.
- Resolve to not be a victim.
- Stand up for your rights.
- Vote for political candidates that support gay rights.
- Refuse to be abused.
- And for God's sake love yourself.