As Malta’s pride week comes to a close, now is the perfect time to look back and appreciate just how far we’ve come in the last decade (the amount of time that’s passed since I came out).
Putting aside the political sphere, where things have been moving along rather briskly in the legislative arena (thankfully), and looking at the cultural changes that have, for better or worse, altered the way our society looks upon and treats the rainbow community.
People feel fine about asking awkward questions
Don’t get me wrong – educating others is part of the job once you come out. We have a duty towards others to help people understand us.
But damn do people need to stop and think a little more before opening their mouths. Questions about how to be a supportive ally are awesome! Questions about the mechanics of sex between two people who have the same equipment? Please no. Questions about what kind of equipment one is carrying below the belt? Stop.
A good rule of thumb when wondering if you should ask a particular question, think of it this way – would you feel comfy asking your boss this question? If not, keep it to yourself.
We are more visible
Gay (and bisexual and trans and intersex and gender variant) people have occupied every single role and position in society throughout history, even if we were mostly invisible.
Things have changed a lot over the past decade. Long gone are the days when you had to meticulously trawl social media for the slightest hint that someone plays for the other team – profile pictures of same-sex couples are a pretty common sight today and people are much more comfortable with making that part of their lives more public, filling out the ‘In a relationship with…’ field with an actual name instead of leaving it evasively blank.
Online dating isn’t what it used to be
Just like everything else, technology has taken some of the hard work out of dating. Apps come with GPS technology to pinpoint the nearest available queer within seconds (with a creepy degree of accuracy). What a time to be alive!
Back in my day (ouch), we made do with some seriously shitty dating websites that were, without exception, sparsely populated and offering a user experience that would make a developer cry. And since smartphones were only just taking off (and even then, only marginally compatible with anything more taxing than a basic HTML site), we had to rely on setting up dates via desktop.
LGBT events were a little… samey
Like most other things, budget was the biggest issue for organizers of gay events and since attending such events basically outed you by default, the already small minority that these events were marketed towards, was whittled down further.
The result? A handful of LGBT events a year that everyone went to, mostly out of lack of alternatives. Of course this led to some disappointment. While a foam party packed with jacked semi-naked dudes must have been fucking awesome for said semi-naked dudes, for the shy nerdy lesbian in the back, it was a little intimidating. Not much fun was had and exactly 0 numbers were exchanged.
Thankfully, things have changed for the better. The yearlong calendar for gay-related events is pretty packed and includes film screenings, discussions, and opportunities to socialize in less semi-naked, foamy surroundings. A huge plus for people who are into a different kind of evening out.
We’re on TV a lot more!
Even as someone whose big ‘gender and sexuality questions’ were answered long ago, it is still really encouraging to be able to see people like you on TV. Characters who have faced the same prejudices and put up with the awful behaviour of the general public and survived to tell the tale.
It is enormously helpful for young people just coming to terms with their identity to see, even in the fiction that is television, others who have been through what they are going through.
… and in a good way!
I know I may get my license revoked for saying this but the L Word? Not actually representative of the gay lady community. Not all of us can be OCD, 1%ers living in California, with flawless hair and are either icily frigid or uncontrollably frisky. Some of us make mature decisions about our sex lives and have only above-average hair (still pretty great though).
But get this – we’re no longer unusual enough to merit our own shows! Our story lines are no longer a ploy to earn positive ratings! Orange is the New Black aside (and I’d like to take this moment to mourn the absence of Stella Carlin on the upcoming season), there are fewer gay-centric television series on the air and more ‘regular’ series with recurring gay characters. This bodes well for a more realistic and balanced depiction of gay folks on screen.
There are so many places you can access help
The tireless folks at MGRM have been around the longest and still do invaluable work for and with kids struggling with their identities. Today though there are many places young people and their loved ones can go for support and advice.
Drachma for Christian individuals and their parents, We Are for students, LGBTI+ for Gozitan kids – whoever you are and whatever you’re struggling with, there are plenty of places you can go for help.
The ‘Gay Vote’ is a thing now
Maybe it’s a result of a more open attitude towards discussing LGBT rights but suddenly the vote of the gay minority became a legitimate political force. While we may not be able to swing an election quite yet, the politicos do seem to care a little more about what we think and how we might vote.
Getting ‘civil unioned’ is a thing I have to worry about now
I was never one of those girls who played pretend by putting on a white veil and traipsed down a make-believe aisle. Probably because I was too busy building forts and getting muddy in the garden.
So when the penny dropped and I realized I was on the wrong team, it came with a sigh of relief. I wouldn’t have to bother about the hassle of organizing a wedding because apparently people like me weren’t worthy enough. For someone perpetually trying to escape responsibility, this was great.
And then civil unions for same-sex couples became legal and now I’m out of logical excuses.