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For many LGBT people, coming out is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Not only does it involve finally being honest about who you are, it can also be a very risky and potentially dangerous event. Which is why Ivan Massow comparing it to ‘coming out as Tory’ has gotten so under my skin.
In a recent article for Pink News, Massow claimed that there are many gay men who are secretly Tory and who are facing a second ‘coming out’, in the face of a ‘anti-Tory dogma’ that had led the LGBT community to vote Labour in droves.
I never came out to my family, because I don’t really have a close relationship with them. I didn’t really need to come out as bisexual to my friends, they kind of guessed when I started having sex with other women. But I know many of my closest friends have wrangled with the issue of coming out for years and years. I never had to come out as not-a-Tory either; my friends kind of guessed when they realised that I didn’t think starving benefits recipients to death was a good idea.
Massow further believes that the LGBT community is ‘protected from discrimination, [has] equal rights to participate in public and commercial life, face less and less everyday prejudice with each passing years and – thanks to a Conservative Prime Minister – we can get married’.
The point is that the government should never have withheld those rights in the first place. Claiming that David Cameron is pro-LGBT because he, in 2014, allowed same-sex marriage to enter the statute books just shows that he’s politically astute, not that he agrees with the idea. The Tories weren’t pushing for marriage equality back in the ’80s, neither were they stepping in to intervene in the AIDS crisis when newspapers dubbed it the ‘gay plague’.
Gay men may be at a lower risk of assault or hate crimes now than they were in 1993 but that doesn’t mean life is, pardon me, gay. Neither does it reflect the lives of lesbians who face a high risk of sexual assault or the horrific crime of ‘corrective’ rape. It doesn’t reflect the lives of trans people who are routinely dehumanised or denied their basic human rights to housing, safety and healthcare. It doesn’t reflect the situation for those seeking asylum because of their sexuality, who are detained and threatened with deportation back to almost certain death.
The Conservative party is not a party for the people. It is a party that has cut funding to charities that work closely with the LGBT community. It is a party that has cut benefit spending, affecting the most vulnerable in our society worst of all. It is a party that refuses to chase businesses that evade tax but rigorously hacks to death the NHS.
Massow might believe otherwise but the T in LGBT does not stand for Tory.