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“We are everywhere” was one of the first slogans I recall seeing from the Gay Liberation Movement. It serves as a reminder of our existence, which has been constant throughout history. People from all walks of life, including truck drivers, lawyers, retail workers, politicians, the unemployed, the wealthy, the young, the old, and individuals from diverse ethnicities, are part of our community.

This slogan applies not only to gay and lesbian individuals but also to everyone within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Bisexual, transgender, intersex, and more – we have always existed and always will.

Examining history leaves no doubt about this fact. However, what changes over time is how different cultures and societies perceive us. Throughout history, there have been cultures that embraced and recognized us as a natural part of human diversity. There were also times when it was more of a “we know, but let’s not discuss it” situation. And then there were the worst times when societies acknowledged our existence but persecuted and marginalized those who could be easily identified. At best, they confined us, and at worst, they attempted to eradicate us.

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Currently, we seem to be experiencing a period where a small but vociferous minority is attempting to persecute us again, with a particular focus on our transgender communities. They propagate lies and fear, as exemplified by the recent activities of Posey Parker, a right-wing English anti-trans activist.

The falsehoods they spread do not hold up under scrutiny. Concerned about trans people using the same changing rooms or public toilets? They have been doing so for many decades, but you may not have noticed. They have always been there. Worried about them sexually abusing children? It’s a lie. The vast majority of child molesters are heterosexual men.

These lies aimed at trans people are the same ones historically used to attack same-sex-attracted individuals. We were falsely portrayed as predators, a threat to children, lurking and waiting for an opportunity to act on our purported wicked desires. However, this was never true about us, and it is not true about trans people either.

In my lifetime, our communities have made incredible progress that I never could have imagined when I was a young gay man. It is challenging to convey just how dire things were back then. I had friends who had to abandon their chosen careers because someone discovered their homosexuality and informed their employers. Landlords could refuse to rent to us. The police either ignored or actively engaged in gay-bashing in public spaces. We could even be incarcerated simply for loving someone of the same sex.

Although the challenges persist for trans people, we have witnessed some significant advancements in terms of legal recognition and the acknowledgment of their rights as human beings. However, while legal recognition is one aspect, social acceptance is another. Nevertheless, even in that regard, progress has been made compared to the past.

Within the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, there are voices insisting that trans issues differ from those faced by individuals attracted to the same sex, asserting that we share no common ground.

But here’s the news: the deceitful bullies and thugs who are currently working to undermine trans rights will eventually target us as well. They view us as part of the same “non-straight” category. We do not conform to their narrow perception of a cisgender heterosexual couple, which they mistakenly consider the only valid way for people to exist. To them, we are inherently queer – not what they perceive as “normal.”

Progress is remarkable, but our gains must be protected, and we must remain vigilant against potential attacks from those who seek to harm us. This magazine received anonymous hate mail recently after years of being free from such negativity. The fact that these cowards feel emboldened to act in this manner is disconcerting. Figures like Destiny Church and others have seized this opportunity, capitalizing on the fear they’ve stirred up against trans people to further their own agendas and financial gain. Two decades ago, during the fight for Civil Unions, they targeted the gay community. Rest assured; we are still on their radar; there’s no doubt about it.

However, I don’t believe it is necessary to succumb to panic or declare that “I am living in fear,” as some individuals have expressed. The counter-protests against Posie Parker clearly demonstrated widespread support from our broader society. I firmly believe that the years of progress we have achieved are not directly under threat. While it’s true that some of our queer communities are going through challenging times, the fact that our presence is visible everywhere in this country matters. Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant and be prepared to fight for our rights, just as we did to obtain them in the first place.

And let us always remember that there is no LGB without the T. It has never been the case, and it never will be.

Michael Stevens is a long-time community activist and social commentator | Photo Credit: Sam Sutherland

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