“I hope we can all stand together as equals one day.”
I have never been, and never will be, a big fan of Sam Smith. I dislike his music and his general attitude, saying such things as “I’d rather be called gay than fat.” I feel his whole persona is mismatched and inconsistent with the messages he’s trying to put out there.
The above quote is from his Oscar win, a win that is really overshadowed by his belief that he is the first openly gay man to win, which he is not. For a man considering a speech like this, it seems odd to me that he would hope for equality whilst stepping on the toes of his “equals” at the same time.
I think this quote bears further scrutiny, for what is equality? It is defined as being equal in terms of rights, status and opportunities. I’m not going to pretend LGBT people have equality in all of these areas, but as a gay man I think it’s time we stopped putting so much emphasis on ourselves if we are to gain equality.
I bring you to my first example; Tom Daley. When Daley came out of the proverbial closet, the drama and press around it was huge. An athlete, an Olympian, a young man of status coming out as gay. It received more attention than the Muslim nanny who murdered a toddler in Moscow.
I think this is fundamentally flawed. We will never be equal while we expect special attention. My brother, my male friends and colleagues, they never had to explain themselves, because they’re straight and being straight isn’t a big deal. Is this not how we want to be also? How can we be accepted as equals when being gay gets us onto the front page, the same way a celebrity scandal would. How?
I really want an answer to this question. I truly want to live in a world where I can walk down the road and hold my partners hand without fear. I want to see my nieces and nephews grow into a world where they can be whoever they want to be when they are of age. I want to live in a world where being LGBT is not a huge thing, it’s just a thing.
Being gay is not me, it’s simply a part of me I had no control over. I’m proud of who I am, and I will fight for my right to be who I am without fear of harm or persecution, but I’m not proud of my community at the moment. I think we’ve become so obsessed with fighting, both internally and externally, that we’ve lost touch with what it is we want. We want equality, not superiority.
I bring you to my second example, one of my close friend at University who I will call Jane. Jane did not come out, Jane didn’t feel the need to. Jane went home one day with her girlfriend and said, “Hey Mum and Dad, this is my girlfriend.” They had a cup of tea together, exchanged the usual conversations and life kept on going. I was really touched by this simple story for the fact that it is just that, simple.
How easy then, for Jane to continue on life as a human, not as a lesbian. I’m not saying we must shy away from who we are, but allow ourselves to become part of the flow of human life. I’m not saying we should stop the fight for equality, but that we should try to be equals, not celebrities. I’m not saying the LGBT community has equality yet, but I am questioning how we can be equal when we want to be treated as front page news simply for being ourselves.
I have a lot of LGBT friends who would agree, and a lot who wouldn’t, and this addresses another issue I’m very, shall we say, melancholy about. The internal fighting of LGBT peoples does nothing for our own cause, if anything it’s treacherous. I bring to you my third and final example; Dustin Lance Black.
When Sam Smith made his Oscars faux pas, Black of course took to twitter. What should have been brushed off as a poorly executed speech became the stuff of nightmares.
“Stop texting my fiance.”
In reality, Sam Smith’s speech was in relation to an article written by the wonderful Sir Ian Mckellen. Had Smith done more than skim the lines (a societal mistake we’re all guilty of), he would have realised that this information was taken out of context, thus leading to the faux pas. Black’s response shows nothing more than the jealous, petty actions of an insecure man and member of our so called “community” who chose this moment to attack, not forgive. The LGBT community is given a brief moment of shining, positive attention and almost immediately it’s taken away by misinformation and High School dramas.
I have and will fight for my rights, but I feel at the moment as if I’m helping to fuel a fight that goes around in a circle, with many of us fighting for the equality of those who do not, or will not care for each other. I will end on this note; how can we ask for equality when we do not view each other in the same regard?