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- Segregation Never, Integration Now - 12 October, 2013
I have been finding myself getting quite annoyed lately. I’ve been on and off my soapbox with increasing frequency. My boyfriend is probably getting fed up of me saying “and another thing…” before spouting off about things I do not agree with. The poor, but albeit very handsome, man.
Over time the one thing I have become less enamoured with is the prevalence of ‘gay’ activities. You know, gay activities for gay people. An example of what I mean is the Gay Games, which Paris has just won the right to host in 2018. The idea of a gay Olympics makes me feel uncomfortable. Why does there need to be such a thing? Why can’t gay athletes just enter the usual Olympics like everyone else? I know it’s about visibility and showing that gay people can do the same things straight people do, but still that can be done in the mainstream games. Even then I don’t know why sexuality should have a bearing on thing. Being good at what you do is all that matters really.
Then there are activities such as a ‘gay swimming group’ and even a ‘gay ping pong club’ (yes that really does exist). Someone recently asked me what makes those groups gay. I laughed, but of course it’s because they are frequented by homosexuals. How fabulous.
Let’s get one thing straight… I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I want to separate myself from the heterosexuals and live a fabulous gay life. I want to live just like everyone else and for my sexuality to have no bearing on it. Whilst I understand that groups and activities for gay people can be great in the social context of meeting people and being in a safe haven, I feel it does gay people more good to get stuck in and join in with everyone else.
I am also aware of people that will only go out on the gay scene and only have gay friends. They refuse to go anywhere else or consider being friends with anyone other than fellow homosexuals. That is something I find puzzling. Whilst I must respect people’s freedom to choose where they go, what they get up to and who they befriend, I have to question whether it is healthy to live that way. Personally I prefer to go to a standard bar on a night out. What I care about is having a good time and being in top company rather than consciously only going somewhere because it is a gay venue. I don’t actively avoid the scene, but I can easily live without it and mostly do. When it comes to my friendships I don’t give any consideration to what their sexuality may be. If they have a good soul and a filthy mind then the chances are I will get on with them. Sexuality will never be a factor.
I realise that I may sound like a hypocrite in my views seeing as I run a LGBTQ youth support charity and founded my county’s first ever Pride event. However, whilst those two things are gay related, they are not exclusively for gay people. The LGBTQ group I run for young people allows straight friends of the members to attend. It is inclusive of all people. Warwickshire Pride was the same. Although it had a focus on LGBT issues, it was a family friendly festival that celebrated all form of diversity. In November I am launching my town’s newest ‘gay night’. It’s not really a gay night at all though. Again it will have an LGBT focus but all promotion for the night makes it clear that it is an event for all people to come together and celebrate our diversity and humanity.
Integration is so important. It’s something I believe we should all practice and quite frankly it annoys me when gay people choose to segregate themselves from everyone else. It does a disservice to the LGBT rights movement, which I perceive as being about society becoming more inclusive. But of course, we all have the freedom to choose to live a fabulous gay life in a fabulous gay bubble. It’s not the real world though. There’s so much more to living than that.