May 17th: International Day Against Homophobia

LogoAs Denise and Regina have recently pointed out, yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia. I think the first time I became aware of homophobia was when I was about 12 years old. All my friends were crazy about this particular movie star – the name escapes me now – but then he came out and confessed he was gay. Suddenly, my friends hated him. I asked them why and they said it was because he was gay. “But he’s still the same actor!” I said. I mean, as far as I understood homosexuality then unless you were the guy’s wife, why should you care if he’s gay or straight?

I confess I didn’t have many gay friends in Brazil. Not for any conscious decision on my part but because I really didnt know many people who were openly gay. Now I know that Brazil is not the sort of place where you’d dare to be openly gay.

I have many gay friends in Canada. One of Alan’s best friends is gay and has lived with the same partner for 30 years. They are highly successful people and some of the most engaged, thinking, caring people I know. We now live in Toronto’s gay village in an apartment building inhabited mostly by gay men. We feel very welcomed in the neighbourhood – despite being straight – and have made many friends there. Both Alan and I take very personally if anyone ever says anything against homosexuals. For the most part, it seems that the GLT movement has achieved a degree of equality in Canada -couples of the same sex can get married and adopt children, and pursue carreers of their choice. From tenured academic job to the top spots of the corporate world, I’ve met gays and lesbians at every level of society in Canada but one of the things that impressed me the most was to see so many straight families taking their small children to see the Gay Pride Parade in Toronto. Talking to one of them, they said they wanted their kids to be exposed to and accepting of difference. They also wanted them to have a positive image of gay people. I think that’s where tolerance begins…

But of course Canada is not perfect. Two gay men were recently murdered in Nova Scotia and while it’s still unclear whether the murders were motivated by homophobia, the police has issued warnings to gay men in the area and has started patrolling more intensely areas where they cruise.

The following passage comes from the Canadian site explaining International Day Against Homophobia:

In Canada, recognition, for lesbian and gay communities, has been first and foremost a judicial acceptance brought about by the adoption of the Charter of Human Rights. However, judicial advances will remain only that until a complete, unlimited social acceptance of homosexuality is achieved and homophobia wiped out. To achieve this goal, the Fondation Émergence proposed in 2003, along with partners, to hold each year a special day dedicated to the social recognition of homosexual experience.

Philosophy of the Event

Few minority groups have been as discriminated against as the gays and lesbians. But major breakthroughs have occurred, and homosexual people are stepping out of the shadows. From the outside, it could be construed that all problems have been solved. The media are sympathetic, public personalities come out, television shows feature lesbian and gay characters in scenes of everyday life. Nevertheless, the reality is quite different. Many individuals are unable to live their sexual orientation, encounter difficulties if they do, or end up role-playing to protect themselves.

Despite these dire situations, the implementation of the International Day Against Homophobia should not rest on a “victimization“ philosophy. In fact, the Day may be seen as a great opportunity to highlight positive aspects of homosexuality and celebrate the contribution of lesbians and gays to society.

Target Audience

Homophobia is an insidious process that channels its effects through subtle, usually transparent ways. No one is safe from hostile manifestations to homosexuality. Quite surprisingly, many homosexual individuals themselves adopt homophobic behaviour, hoping it would protect them against prejudice from their entourage. The International Day Against Homophobia aims to reach all groups of society, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Becoming Involved

An International Day Against Homophobia belongs to no one individual. It’s about all people hoping for a prejudice-free world that can provide a place at the table for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. Inspired by all world theme-days, the day set aside to fight homophobia needs to be appropriated by all of those actively involved in civil society: gay and lesbian community organisations, those organisations focusing on other types of sexual diversity, unions, employers, private businesses, governments, public administration, professional associations, and all individuals seeking equality.



Author: guerson

Historian. Teacher. Knitter. Passionate for bringing people together and building bridges.

12 thoughts on “May 17th: International Day Against Homophobia”

  1. You’d be surprised how much Toronto has changed in terms of homophobia in the past 10-15 years. I remember as a teenager growing up there, hearing about gay bashing that was rampant in downtown Toronto. The village was referred to as the “gay ghetto” and in general, Toronto was not very tolerant. My sister actually moved to England ten years ago, partly because, as a lesbian, she felt somewhat discriminated against in Toronto. Every time I got to the gay pride parade these days, I have tears in my eyes to see how much this city has changed in a good way!

  2. What´s up, how is it un Brasil? I´ve put a link for your blog in my “old-new blog”. About your post: my father used to say that the same thing happenned with Rock Hudson, a Hollywood fifties/sixties actor. And people were surprised by the fact that he was gay but his rôles were a little bit “Clark Gable”. Prejudices, prejudices… ;-)

  3. Dana,

    Whenever I say something about Canada that is positive today – be it tolerance against minorities, social policies, etc – I remark that it wasn’t always like that. I think Canada – and other countries too – is a good example how things can improve and how people can be reeducated. I think anybody can be thought not to be racist or homophobic…


    Obrigada pelo link! As for prejudice, I don’t think there’s anything worse or more unfair…

  4. I agree. Since we’re historians, I think it’s important that we always remember the past, and that we can change the future. So many people always use the cliche, “History repeats itself”, which it does but it doesn’t HAVE to!

  5. That;s exactly what I think Dana. I also don’t like when people dismiss/explain away any social advancement in Canada with the cliché “oh but Canada is a first world country” (people in Brazil and other parts of the world that used to be deemed “third world” still understand the world in a first world-third world dichotomy) or just saying that Canadians are somewhat naturally better than other peoples. I disagree wholeheartedly. I point out that things were not always great, people were not always this tolerant and it wasn’t long ago that Jews were not allowed at McGill or there werent any women in academia.

    Any country can learn and change if there’s the will to do so… I can see that in Spain and Portugal. It’s really incredible the amount of change these two countries have gone through in the past 30 years…

  6. Alexandra, I don´t understand your explanation: “world-third world dichotomy”. It´s not a simple dichotomy or something invented. These differences still exist, they are here in front of us. I live in a “third-world” and I´m conscius about this, even if I don´t live with “indian people” or in Amazonia with the fishermen or even if I´ve lived in a “premier-monde” – Europe. I´m not so “well-traveled”, but I could see the big differences between the systems.

    We´re living the “mondialisation” and I agree that is possible to fight against prejudices cause we are humains being, of course, but there will never exist “a world social justice” in some aspects, like “economy”, for exemple. Globalization and “aquarius” (harmony, union) are a “simple mask” used to hide the poorness ant the reality.

  7. Esqueci de te perguntar: você está no Brasil mas onde? No estado do Rio? Só sei que você é fluminense, mas não sei a cidade. ;-))

  8. Gi,

    My criticism has to do with how the notion of “third world”, which can be used as a pejorative term, is interiorized by people in developing nations. It becomes the cause of our problems and not the effects. We have corruption and rampant crime? Oh, what do you expect from a third world nation? It’s that kind of reasoning that I object to.

    Canadians don’t really think in terms of first world-third world. Of course they know they live in a wealthy country, etc and that other countries are poorer but they never explain people’s problems in terms of first world or third world. We heard a lot of friends from Latin America or Asia using these terms in Barcelona and my husband was always asking me “what do they mean by third world”? It seemed to him too facile an explanation for everything…

    Faz sentido? Tenho que sair agora mas depois volto…

    Estou em Resende, RJ…


  9. Nossa… eu não sabia que existia o dia da homofobia…
    Como você disse, o Canada esta muito a frente em aceitação aos homesexuais se compararmos ao Brasil… tenho alguns amigos no Brasil que são gays, mas não dizem a ninguém e tem vergonha em se aceitar como gays.
    Mas acho que apesar de tudo estamos se tornando mais abertos…
    Obs: respondi a mesnagem que deixou no blog sobre “amizade pós-imigração:
    “Oi Alexandra, a idéia com certeza não foi generalizar… e sim expressar uma tendência que sinto entre os brasileiros e mesmo outros imigrantes. Tirando os canadenses que vão virando canadeneses (risos)… nós só fizemos amizade com um casal “real canadians”, que inclusive viajou com a gente para o Brasil e que são pessoas excelentes… do mais, a gente encontrar canadenses em festas, comemorações, vizinhança etc… mas é difícil criar vínculos…
    Assim como você, fiz amizades com diferentes pessoas de diferentes nacionalidades, e isso foi/é excelente… algumas vezes a gente se engana, outras a gente se impressiona…
    E como você disse… tem que se abrir ao novo, pois só dessa maneira a gente cresce e faz novos amigos.
    Inclusive esse foi um dos paragrafos que ressaltei no blog :).

  10. Entendi, do ponto de vista canadense. ;-) Ah, então agora me lembrei que vi que você disse ou vi algo, não sei, que era Resende. Pertinho de Visnconde de Mauá que adoro. A ex-esposa do meu pai mora em Volta Redonda e minha irmã morou lá também. Boa estada pra você.

  11. continuando…

    For a Canadian any other people is just as capable as Canadians are – if not more – to build a fair, healthy, and just society.

    Eu também gosto muito de Visconde de Mauá! Gosto de passear pelas montanhas de Itatiaia também…

    Com todas essas mudanças tinha esquecido completamente da mensagem que deixei no seu blog! Obrigada por me lembrar!

  12. Olha, interessante, nem sabia que havia um dia contra a homofobia. Aqui em Barcelona, essa coisa já parece bastante superada, no Brasil que ainda falta muito.


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