LGBTQ+ community still struggling for equality

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Julia McPherson

Frenchtown, a Del Val sending district, celebrates Pride Day each year with a parade and festival.

It’s 2020, and the LGBTQ+ community is still being discriminated against and attacked.

In May 2019, a lesbian couple was attacked on a bus in London. Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend, Christine Hannigan, were going home after a date when five teenage boys started harassing them. The boys were trying to get the two girls to kiss and do other sexual things for their entertainment. It started as verbal harassment, but then the boys began describing sexual positions to the two girls. They tried to escape the situation by making jokes and pretending to be sick. The encounter escalated when the group started to punch the girls until they were covered in blood.

Government research has found more than two-thirds of LGBT+ people said they have had to avoid holding hands with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction from others. This just proves that it’s still unsafe for members of the LGBTQ+ community unless it’s pride month. “When the glitter is being swept out of the streets, a lot of people get on those trains and on those buses, and they try to wash the rainbows off their bodies,” Halsey, an American singer, said in fan-captured footage which was shared on Twitter.

At her concert at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, New Jersey, Halsey made a speech about the horrible attack on that bus and how it’s an example of why some LGBTQ+ people are afraid to go out in public.

They [members of the LGBTQ+ community] love who they love, and you can’t tell anyone how to feel. How would you feel if someone beat the crap out of you for kissing your significant other? Why is it different for them,? It shouldn’t be,”

— Ms. Cartwright

“It was 2019. Why is this even happening? And then to find out it was teenagers, because as the GSA advisor for the past twelve years, I’ve seen so much growth and so much more expectance,” Ms. Cartwright, the advisor of the Diversity Club at Del Val, says.

After that night on the bus, one of the victims explained that “this happened because of who we are.” Which brings up the question, would this have happened if it was two men? “Probably not,” Cartwright said, “especially because it was a group of teenage boys. I don’t think they would have reacted the same way, they may have not even acknowledged their existence.”

Ms. Cartwright thinks to keep things like this from happening, there needs to be more education that focuses on putting out the message that it’s not alright to do that to people. “When it comes to something like [the bus assault], it should be seen as a hate crime,” Cartwright said.  People fear what the don’t know, so the more that they know about the LGBTQ+ community, the more that they can understand it.

“They [members of the LGBTQ+ community] love who they love, and you can’t tell anyone how to feel. How would you feel if someone beat the crap out of you for kissing your significant other? Why is it different for them? It shouldn’t be,” Cartwright said.

There are people who are looking to address Cartwright’s question. There was a short film released in 2011 entitled Love Is All You Need? that switched these roles. The idea of a same-sex couple was normalized and being straight was the behavior people would be bullied for. (As a disclaimer, the video depicts realistic depictions of bullying and may be upsetting to some viewers. Watch at your own discretion.)

Del Val’s Diversity Club spreads the word about the LGBTQ+ throughout the halls

These sorts of crimes are still happening around the world despite the progress that has been made. “I would love to see outrage because of the fact of the inequality of it. How is it right for a man and a women to walk down the street holding hands and kiss each other, but not two females who are in love?” Cartwright said. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we all have feelings, and no one wants to fear going outside.

This fear became reality for the victims of the attack at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. That night a gunman walked into the popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and opened fire. The attack killed 49 people and wounded a dozen more. The youngest was 18 and only 3 victims were over 40. “It wasn’t until I got my flashlight and scanned the room and saw so much blood from where all these bodies were lying. I looked to my left, to a guy who I guess got the worst end of it, and that’s when it hit me: ‘Wow, these people are all dead,’” the responding officer said.

Ms. Cartright
Del Val has a proud community of students who support LGBTQ+ equality

Some Del Val students are passionate about seeking change to this behavior. “I fully support the LGBTQ+ community. I will never understand why some people don’t support this community. Love is love.  It should not have to be a man and a woman. Some people say God is going to be angry because you’re part of the community, but God made you the way he made you. It’s not a bad thing. Homosexuality is not a sin. I get very aggravated when somebody is doing these things to the community,” sophomore Eva Toye said.

What happened to Melania and Christine shouldn’t have happened. These assaults will keep occurring unless society is educated about the community. It’s 2020, and while progress has been made to help and support the LGBTQ+ community, there are still people who discriminate and attack them for just being who they are.

“It [the LGTBQ+ community] has to be normalized in society. It needs to be socially accepted for the attacks to stop. I think that can be achieved by the media like books and television. These people are humans too, and I think opinions are okay. I support the community, but there’s a difference between opinion and violence, or at least there definitely should be,” sophomore Kim Johnson said.