My Own Private IDAHO

17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia.

My Own Private IDAHO

It was on May 17 in 1990 that the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases.

For that reason, May 17 was chosen by the founders of the International Day Against Homophobia — IDAHO — which has since been expanded to include Transphobia and Biphobia. The driving force behind the establishment of IDAHO was Louis-Georges Tin.

IDAHO was established to help raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBTQ communities around the world — giving a point of focus in which to engage the media, policy-makers, and the wider public. It’s a day that’s recognised globally, and encourages local action.

It’s encouraging to see the aims and ambitions of IDAHO being embraced by community and political leaders around the world — rainbow flags are being flown, speeches made, tweets tweeted.

IDAHO also presents an opportunity for us all to pause and reflect. The World Health Organisation may no longer consider homosexuality a disease, but the world is still a dangerous place for most LGBTQ people.

There’s over 70 countries where being gay is illegal. A number of those countries punish homosexuality with death, many others impose imprisonment.

Even in countries where we are protected by anti-discrimination legislation, all too often we are the victims of hate-crimes — simply because of our sexuality.

While recognising the challenges that remain, it’s also important to recognise the progress that has been made.

Achieving marriage equality in a number of countries around the world has been a big deal. It doesn’t mean that everyone wants to get married — or that being able to get married somehow makes LGBTQ people ‘normal’ — but it is a material step forward in removing discrimination and working towards equality.

In a number of countries, the representation of LGBTQ people in the media is getting better. We’re also seeing the emergence of some really powerful role models.

The B52’s classic song Your Own Private Idaho explores the paranoia that can engulf you if your frame of reference is too small.

To mark IDAHO in 2024, let’s make sure that we take a world view. We need to understand our history, to appreciate the struggles of those who have gone before us. We need to understand the context that defines the communities in which we live, but also the experiences of those in other parts of the world.

None of us chose to be LGBTQ. None of use had a choice in where we were born. Some of us got lucky.

Things are getting better for some people in some places, things are not getting better for others. In many places around the world, things are getting a lot worse for people who identify as LGBTQ.

You’re out of control, the rivers that roll
You fell into the water and down to Idaho.

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