Oliver Speer

In 1999 I was in Comptons, a gay bar in Soho when the news spread that a bar across the road The Admiral Duncan has been the target of a nail bomb attack.

In the street was smoke and chaos, injured people were stumbling around looking dazed. Three were killed that day and many more injured.

It was a personal attack on all of us LGBT+ people for who we are by nature. Gay bars had been safe spaces from the prejudice, violence and hatred many of us received on the street, all of a sudden nowhere seemed safe.

Then the other day I look on Facebook and read of the massacre of around 50 LGBT+ people in Orlando Florida and my heart sank. Yet again I am reminded that there are people who would want us dead just for who we are.

Whilst the man who carried out the Orlando shootings claimed his massacre in the name of Islam, the creator of the Soho nail bombs was a neo-nazi whose other targets had been racially motivated, both were apparently individuals carrying out their attacks alone and both were motivated by their own personal overwhelming hatred for others.

The gunman of the Orlando shootings was disgusted by seeing men kiss in front of his wife and child. Studies have shown that many homophobes are so angered to see a display of affection between men because it arouses something within themselves which they do not wish to confront.

As an LGBT+ person growing up in a world of binary gender and sexuality where you are told there is only one “right” way to be, it is hard enough to come to terms with yourself. Then to have the guts to come out to friends and loved ones who may disown you. Then to have the strength to love yourself enough to love another and to hold their hand and kiss in public, when there is a very real possibility of violence. All this takes tremendous bravery.

Children are not born homophobic, sexist or racist, these are things that are passed onto them by their parents and guardians, we are taught to hate, prejudice is something we learn.

Seeing two men kissing could no more turn a child gay than all the heterosexual imagery I grew up with could turn me straight. We are what we are and peoples only “choice” is to hide their true nature or confront it.

My heart goes out to all the survivors and the loved ones of those who didn’t survive. That which unites us as humans is far greater than the petty superficialities of race, religion, sexuality and gender which divide us. We will never give up the fight to love those who our nature dictates we should love.

We have been fighting all our lives just to be who we are and we are strong! You can kill individuals but you can’t kill our true nature. Just to be ourselves is the greatest freedom we have and no amount of violence will stop us.

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