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WHO'S TO BLAME FOR HOMOPHOBIA?

PETER TATCHELL says too many lesbians and gays do nothing to help the fight for queer human rights
Are you letting homophobes get away scot-free? You wouldn't be the only one. Sadly, there are lots of lesbians and gay men who collude with homophobia by their inaction. While other queers are being victimised, they do nothing.
There are, of course, plenty of gay people who do care and are doing something positive to support the battle for equality. But what about the rest? We all know of the filthy rich queers who never give a penny for AIDS research, the clubland air-heads who refuse to march for equality - or even write a letter to their MP. Worst of all, there are the cowardly cruisers who run at the sight of queer-bashers, and don't even bother to call an ambulance when they see a gay person being battered!
Then there are the average homos who are just plain apathetic and complacent. They don't mean any harm, but always assume that someone else will do the campaigning on their behalf. "Oh, we can leave all that campaigning stuff to Stonewall and OutRage!", they say. The end result of that attitude is the pathetic turnout outside parliament on the night the House of Lords voted against an equal age of consent. We should have had thousands of us there. Instead, it was left to a mere hundred people to wave the flag for equality.
The reality is that homophobia still exists partly because too many lesbians and gay men look the other way, don't bother, and leave it someone else. If we all leave the fight to others, nothing will ever change.
Homophobia is not just something nasty that bigoted heterosexuals do to us. Often homophobia happens because we let it happen. It is no good always blaming heterosexuals for the discrimination and violence heaped upon us. We share some of the blame because there are too many people in our community who don't give a damn.
Over the last decade, dozens of gay and bisexual men have been murdered by queer-bashers. A third of all lesbians and gay men have been beaten up at least once by anti-gay bigots. Where is our anger? How many of us have to be killed or maimed before we get we bother to do something? Why isn't there a gay equivalent of the Stephen Lawrence campaign to highlight the lesbian and gay victims of homophobic violence?
Over 25,000 men have been convicted of consenting gay offences in the last 20 years - for behaviour like cruising and group sex that is not a crime between heterosexuals.
The HIV epidemic has claimed the lives of thousands of gay and bisexual men, some of them dying needlessly because many health authorities are still allocating pitiful resources for safer sex education targeted at gays and bisexuals.
How many queers will have to be beaten senseless, arrested for victimless acts, and die of AIDS before the whole gay community gets united, angry and demands justice?

Metropolis magazine 5 August 1998