Why marriage equality matters to me

I have a confession to make. I haven’t written to my MP, Mr Julian Brazier, about the government’s equal marriage proposals. It wouldn’t, of course, have made the slightest difference if I had (not least of all because Mr Brazier has other constituents to represent, many of whom are backward and bigoted); but I should have done it anyway. I should have done it because marriage equality is important.

I don’t have a sob story. I had a happy childhood – I wasn’t bullied at school (more than any other weedy geek, anyway), I had great friends who loved me for who I was, and when I came out to my family I wasn’t assaulted or even disowned.

Marriage equality matters because there are thousands of other children who aren’t as lucky as I was. Thousands of children (I can’t stress that enough – children) face verbal and physical abuse from their parents and peers just for being who they are – and it takes a horrific toll. A 2008 research report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that young gay people are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts.

It’s tragic, but it’s not surprising. As they grow up, gay young people discover that (legally) they are not equal. The playground bullying is legitimised, particularly when it is tacitly endorsed by authority figures.

The angry queen inside me blames a lot of people for every gay teen suicide. Everyone from the people who bullied the kid directly to people on the other side of the world who use the word “gay” as an insult, to mean “rubbish”. We’ve all contributed, and we pay for it every time another child takes their own life.

Playground bullying and homophobia in society will probably be around for a long time, but homophobia in British law doesn’t have to be. We have an amazing chance here to change the experiences of young people for generations to come – young people who will grow up knowing that they are equal, no matter who they are or who they fall in love with.

That’s why marriage equality matters to me. Maybe someday I’ll fall in love and settle down, and then it’ll matter to me for a whole bunch of other reasons, but this is enough.

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  1. February 18th, 2013

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