CW: homophobia, transphobia, sexual assault.
Does the global rise in homophobic hate crimes apply to us Glaswegians?
“People Make Glasgow''. That's what we’re told at least, with the implication being that Glasgow only prospers because of its fruitfully diverse populace. Why is it, then, that LGBTQ+ people are still being victimised and abused for our existence when our diversity is supposedly so important to the city?
According to an article written by Vice News, global reports of homophobic crimes have risen by 210% over the past six years, with reports of transphobic crimes rising by 332% in the same time. As someone who is both transgender and bisexual, I feel that we are just as bad for contributing to this rise as any other. Having endured years of slurs, hate speech and assault, I've experienced this rise in hate crimes personally, and know all too well the dangers of maintaining silence around the matter.
"Having endured years of slurs, hate speech and assault, I've experienced this rise in hate crimes personally..."
Coming out at a high school age put me in an incredibly vulnerable position; both my peers and supposedly trusted adults put me in an altogether more dangerous environment. From my peers, I faced ridicule, being mocked for wearing clothes that actually matched my gender, for “being greedy” with my sexuality. I faced slurs anytime someone needed a quick laugh, being chased and beaten simply because my tormentors had nothing better to do.
All of these pale in comparison to the time I was sexually assaulted in the middle of my college campus in broad daylight, in front of friends whom I thought I could trust to defend me in that situation, but who, instead, just sat and watched. When I confronted them, they explained they thought it was just a joke, because my “boobs weren't exactly real anyways”. At this point, the implication was clear: no one defended me whilst a stranger touched me up because they didn't consider the violation of a trans woman to be a real violation. This reaction from them left me terrified to speak up about the assault, especially given that this occurred only a month after the first round of discourse surrounding JK Rowling and Maya Forstater’s transphobic remarks. However, high school wasn’t all bad - my guidance teacher, as well as other queer friends, provided me with immense support and helped me truly find myself.
"...the implication was clear: no one defended me whilst a stranger touched me up because they didn't consider the violation of a trans woman to be a real violation..."
Luckily, university has proven to be quite the opposite of the hate-filled high school corridors. At every turn there are people who have either gone through similar experiences of hate, or who are willing to listen to, support, and defend LGBTQ+ voices when we speak up. Perhaps this is because instead of attending Catholic School in Clydebank I'm now attending a secular university in the West End, where people are well-educated by default. However, I'd like to think there's more to it than that. Being at university means everyone is older, a bit more mature. In truth, most places I go within Glasgow seem to have more and more tolerant people, from the city centre to Pollok, everyone I encounter and speak to seems to be accepting of my identity.
"In truth, most places I go within Glasgow seem to have more and more tolerant people..."
Additionally, as Glasgow becomes more diverse, the sense of religious tradition regarding what a family should apparently look like has fallen away, leaving many open to new ideas on life and love, including that of the LGBTQ+ people. I find this to mean that although hate crimes may be on the rise, that rise is coming from a small minority of uneducated people, and their numbers are falling as more of the population are exposed to the LGBTQ+ community and engaging with us as actual people. The more people listen to our stories and hopes for the future, they are able to work with us to achieve our goals of equality. The prominence of Pride events has no doubt contributed to the increase of education, and their ever-growing size shows that the majority of people are willing to listen to our stories. Glasgow is becoming a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, and an increasingly dangerous place for bigots.
Glaswegians have never been known to shy away from fighting against things which they do not support, having a long history of protest going back to the Red Clydeside movement of the early 20th century. Glasgow has a very strong sense of community, and will always close ranks to protect that community. Now that LGBTQ+ are being recognised as part of the Glasgow community, hopefully experiences like mine will soon be a thing of the past.
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