On queerbashing and trigger warnings

Owen Blacker
3 min readJun 9, 2019

Content note: This article includes a pixellated image of the aftermath of a hate crime and descriptions of the attack.

Melania Geymonat (right) and her partner Chris, talking to the BBC

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.

An edited version of the image of the attack

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.

Images are used without permission. This article’s text is dedicated to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero licence. Please feel free to translate, copy, excerpt, share, disseminate and otherwise spread it far and wide. You don’t need to ask me, you don’t need to tell me. Just do it!



Owen Blacker

🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿♿⧖ Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior+trans ally. @WikiLGBT, @OpenRightsGroup, ex- @mySociety. he/him