This June I was struck by the abundance of rainbows all over my social media accounts and their prevalence in advertising campaigns encouraging me to invest my cash in all things rainbow branded. Big businesses and brands are seemingly full of Pride these days. Going to my local supermarket I am informed they are a proud supporter of diversity by the rainbow-hued sign in the car park. I can buy my own LGBT sandwich at Marks & Spencer’s. I can use rainbow branded Listerine to take care of my teeth and gums. Last month the endless stream of rainbow packaged merchandise provided colourful assurance that LGBT+ people have an abundance of corporate support as everyone from booze brands to shoe brands enthusiastically seized on the opportunity to hoist their rainbow flags. We are now, as many brands sought to remind us as they touted their wares, fifty years on from Stonewall (1969) and more than fifty years have passed since riots that preceded it (e.g. Cooper Do-Nuts (1959); Compton's Cafeteria (1966)). In the UK we are fifty-two years on from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality (1967) and there is certainly much to celebrate both here and in the U.S. when it comes to progress made in the fight for LGBT+ equality.
This week's massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando was a direct attack on LGBTQ+ people and predominately queer people of colour. The bars which have provided a safe space for generations of LGBTQ+ people were violated again. Again, because it is not the first time these spaces have come under threat. LGBTQ+ spaces are constantly under threat from closure, but as recent events have highlighted, the threat of violence also remains. Whether people attack with bombs like the nail bomb at Soho's Admiral Duncan pub in England, firearms like those used in the Pulse shooting in America, or their fists because individuals dare to hold hands walking down the street or kiss in public.
One of the reasons I am so personally invested in the issues covered on this site and the LGBT experiences featured in much of the literature and media I enjoy is related to my personal story, intrinsically part of me and core to my identity. This isn't new information for many of you but for those of you are new to me, this blog or those I haven't spoken to for some time, I am bisexual and this is my coming out on my blog post.
Why bother writing this at all? Simply because I've learned that seeing your experiences reflected whether on television, film or in writing, is an important part of figuring yourself out. I'm writing this in the hope that I can say something that will resonate with one person. Perhaps you're someone who I know already or one of those strangers that's a friend I haven't met. Hi, if you're out there. Awesome to meet you, or (maybe) good to see you again.