The massive increase in the number of people who have come out as queer in the last ten years has led social historians to claim that we’re in the midst of a sexual revolution, which has achieved an unprecedented expression of sexuality. This is primarily because people no longer cower under the threat of persecution owing to one’s sexual preferences (although it is still punishable by death in countries like Iran, UAE, Somalia, Nigeria, etc.).
Queerness in Western Countries
The Western part of the world today engenders a large part of the population who can finally come out of the closet as queer, since in many countries, like Argentina, Canada, Finland, Luxemburg, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, UK, same-sex marriage has been legalized by the national courts. There are queer communities that provide mental and material support to those who need it as a mark of community solidarity to strengthen the ties of queer allyship. Although a disturbing number of homophobic incidents ravage these countries, it is significantly lesser than in Eastern countries, where the expression of sexuality has not yet reached its peak due to various reasons, which are discussed below.
Queerness in Eastern Countries
LGBT empowerment in most countries in Asia or Africa is still an unrealized vision because LGBT perception of the masses is replete with a misunderstanding, further reinforced by illogical norms and customs acting under the garb of ‘culture’ or ‘tradition.’ Homophobia is rampant in these countries, to the extent that the majority of people who are afraid of coming out of the closet due to a fear of rejection from family, friends, and society almost wholeheartedly attempt to repress their identity so that they can fit in with the rest of society. In other words, there exists a double consciousness – one forged in genuine self-realization of queerness and the other a façade of conformity.
Steps towards De-stigmatisation of the LGBT Community
The main problem that lies at the core of such a vehement rejection of the LGBT community is ignorance. Most people who push for the marginalization of queer people are unaware that being gay isn’t a choice; it’s an innate realization of the self – a radical step towards carving one’s identity in the face of hatred and mass rejection.
First, people need to be educated on this topic and not merely brushed aside as selfish or rude. After all, it is true that without education, one can only hope to keep this hatred merely dormant by adopting quick actions like calling out a homophobe on their social media. While it may be a practical solution, it does not come minutely close to solving homophobia.
There are grassroots-level organizations that work for the de-stigmatization of queerness. They welcome volunteers and social workers for their insight and work and set up educational campaigns and workshops for LGBT solidarity and empowerment. Laws and policies are being constantly formulated and debated regarding LGBT empowerment. We must be aware of it, so we can do our bit to change society for the better.