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Gay and NOT proud

Over the past few years, since I’ve really been open about my sexuality, I have been continuously and repeatedly asked “Do you go to Pride?” or “Are you coming to Pride this year?” My answer has always been, and shall always be: NO. I refuse to go out of principal. Whilst I do not deny the social and networking opportunities at Pride, I do not see the need to attend an event which promotes and celebrates a sexual orientation. Like race or gender, sexual orientation does not change an individual’s place within society. Heterosexuals do not make a fuss out of being straight, so why should I make a fuss out of being gay? 

To this extent, I believe that LGBTs who make a high-toned and fancy to-do out of their sexual identity are causing more intolerance of their sexuality by ramming it down the throats of the rest of the public. Nobody likes having anything forced upon them, and before long, a fuss irritates and causes reluctance more than it gains support. 

Similarly, I do not consider myself part of an “LGBT community”. I was discussing these views with a friend recently, and he pointed out that LGBTs who consider themselves a community are essentially suggesting that they are not one with the heterosexual public. The very word “community” is undermining the common ethos that sexual orientation does not change an individual’s status within society.  

Pride, here, is given merely as an example of a behaviour and attitude which I think is harming the heterosexual public’s view of individuals who are attracted to their own or both sexes, or have changed their gender. Individuals who use their sexuality to gain sympathy and support or march around announcing about their sexual preference are also inspiring a twisted view that LGBTs are different from the rest of society and demand special treatment. 

Above all, sexuality should not matter. Being gay makes no contribution towards my self esteem; I am proud of who I am as a Human Being and as an individual, not because I am attracted to my own gender. I am happy with myself, and my friends and family are happy for the person I am as a whole. You should also be proud of the person who you are. Don’t single out individual details about yourself. And if you are worried about how people will react about your sexuality, remember this: The people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind. 

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The passing of any public figure, from Robin Williams to Alexandra Bastedo, seldom goes unnoticed. It is the quickest of all news to weave its way through social media and is almost always bought to the attention of the masses by Facebook and Twitter rather than the BBC or CNN. It is also the news that causes the most public outcry – more so than abuse cases – starting a whole procession of tributes, eulogies and fan-written obituaries. The behaviour of the public, particularly that shown on social media, following the loss of a celebrity and the torrential effect that the news has on society demonstrates how obsessed and indulged we are with the lives of those who we consider to be better than ourselves and how much we look up to them.

Alarmingly, the social media networks have been plagued by the news of the death of several household names over the past two years, from Michael Clarke Duncan and James Gandolfini to Peaches Geldof and Philip Seymour Hoffman. But none of these sad passings have caused such an earthquake through society as much as that of Robin Williams. Even more alarming is the epiphany that the general community seems to have experienced following the alleged suicide of Robin Williams: that depression and anxiety is a serious illness and not just some passing blue moment because of stress from work or exams or the anxiety of “Why isn’t my significant other home on time from the nightclub?”

The death of Robin Williams is, like the death or suicide of most people famous or otherwise, tragic. This I do not deny. But I also can’t help but feel that the real tragedy behind his passing is the fact that between 800,000 to 1 million people die every year from suicide and it’s taken the suicide of a celebrity to awaken society to the seriousness of depression. In the United States, suicide kills more than homicides (suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the US, homicide is the 15th) and is the 3rd leading cause of death in young people aged between 15 and 24. The World Health Organisation also believe that depression was the #1 disability in the world.

It is tragic that people are only taking depression seriously following it being the cause of death for a celebrity, despite that it had already been reaping millions of lives prior. Even HM Government have published and reinforcing the advertising of suicide helplines following the death of Mr Williams. It seems to me that society is acting like its a new disease and they were completely oblivious towards it before. I’ve lost friends and family due to depression and suicide – I know it’s no joke. Depression can hit anybody regardless of circumstances, somebody you know may have it. Please, take it seriously. 80% of depressed individuals will recover given the right support. You might be part of that support needed to save somebody’s life.

If it took the suicide of Robin Williams to awaken everybody to depression, then what’s it going to take to awaken society to domestic violence, child abuse, neglect…. How many more people will have to suffer before a celebrity shares the same tragic fate and causes us to notice? This does seriously concern me.

Facts & Statistics from SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) http://www.save.org