On queerbashing and trigger warnings
Content note: This article includes a pixellated image of the aftermath of a hate crime and descriptions of the attack.
The last few days, much of Queer Britain has a Facebook feed containing a repeated image of 2 young women covered in blood. News broke on Friday that, on Wednesday evening, a lesbian couple were the targets of a homophobic attack on a nightbus in London — apparently for refusing to perform their aﬀection for the beneﬁt of a group of young men, who then subjected the couple to verbal abuse, described sexual positions they’d presumably like to watch and threw coins at them, before punching them, possibly breaking one of their noses.
When I ﬁrst saw the article and the photo that has accompanied it in every article, I was burning with such anger that, frankly, I wanted to force everyone to confront the reality of what we LGBTQ+ people face even here in the relatively tolerant capital city of a relatively tolerant country. After all, most straight people in the UK probably think that homophobic abuse is pretty rare, that we LGBTQ+ types can just get on with our lives without giving our “otherness” much thought.
But now over half of my timeline — most of the timelines of most queer Brits, I’d wager — is a photo that delivers me a gut-punch every time I see it.
A photo that reminds us all that there’s a vocal minority who think we should feel grateful that we’re “tolerated”, that we should live discreetly and not “make such a fuss about it”, that maybe we have a right to exist but that we shouldn’t “force our lifestyles on children”.
And I came to realise that I was wrong to post that article, with that preview image, without a content note, a trigger warning. That everyone is wrong to do so.
Everyone is dealing with their own problems all the time; very few people ﬂoat eﬀortlessly through life, after all. And if we even pretend give a shit about our fellow humans, we should give them the information to decide whether they want to suﬀer that gut-punch at all, let alone over and over and over.
Yes, it’s an important story and yes, it’s important that society confront the fact that there’s still a lot of work to be done — that equal marriage doesn’t mean everything’s ok now, that suddenly we’re treated like equals not second-class citizens. That this story isn’t over just because 5 teenagers have been arrested. (Tell me again that queer-inclusive education isn’t important.)
But it’s also important that we protect our mental health, that we don’t add another hit to the trauma we all experience living queer in a heterosexist world.
Arseholes like Piers Morgan don't give a fuck about us, they care about their own regressive, intolerant, ignorant message getting across. That's why they belittle trigger warnings and content notes.
We have to be better than that.
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