Director, Courageous Inclusion, evosis Limited.
Layla Moran MP recently came out as pansexual to a cacophony of liberal responses of ‘this isn’t news’.
This is rooted in a misguided belief that it’s a supportive comment, ‘it (who we are in a relationship with) doesn’t matter’, ‘we can love who we want’. But in the U.K. in 2020 it does still matter. Also these comments are rooted in a heteronormative narrative which are making the homophobic and transphobic culture worse not better. Here’s why...
1) Layla Moran MP had previously been advised not to ‘come out’ because being honest and open about sexual orientation was predicted likely to cost her votes. In a country still afraid of educating children about relationships other than between, two straight, cis opposite sex people, this isn’t a surprise.
2) Layla has a same sex partner, and is in the public eye as an MP, so unsurprisingly the tabloids had got hold of her ‘story’ and were threatening to ‘out’ her - no doubt with that good old fashioned reasoning that it’s in the ‘public interest’. Simply this is driven by overt homophobia and transphobia. There should never be a time when anyone is ‘outed’ by anyone else. This is our personal story and we should be able to control our own narrative. In a culture which assumes everyone is straight unless told otherwise, we need to come out, many times in many ways, continually throughout our lives. This very public example should absolutely be in Layla’s control, we don’t need to imagine the headlines if it was left to the tabloid press.
3) So having established why this is news that needs a platform, now to the ‘this is not news’ responses. They are rooted in a heteronormative culture which doesn’t understand our LGBTQ experience. Particularly of coming out. Once this is established the response quickly can be recognised as (however unconsciously) ‘we don’t want to hear about this’ ‘it’s too painful because it forces us to see our straight privilege’. The most damaging consequence of this is the LGBTQ narrative and experience is undermined and silenced in favour of the insidious heteronormative culture. Layla being accused of ‘weaponising’ her sexuality (see link below) takes this one step further into overt homophobia / transphobia. Just to be clear, anyone’s sexual orientation and how they choose to control the narrative about that is not a weapon, it is simply their truth. Tabloid responses to it however are weapons.
So to our LGBTQ community, in the same way that people of colour are now calling out racism in the U.K, it’s time that we did the same for homophobia and transphobia.
Also for our straight ‘allies’ it’s time you educated yourselves about our true experiences and the impact of your ignorant comments (however well intentioned) on our freedoms.
Finally, if I seem angry I am. I used to believe that anger at society was a sign of me not having fully accepted my own identity. Now I realise this was yet another cruel way of oppressing people who don't fit into the 'norm' as defined by dominant groups. We need to be angry, that's the only way anything will change.