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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

As a young kid I can’t remember ever really hearing about LGBTQ people or evening knowing really what that meant. What I can remember, is this weird time that wearing cargo shorts, flips flops and wanting to be in the choir made you “gay”, or at least that is what I got called. Yes, I loved playing sports but I also really loved music, acting and shopping. Regardless of my sexuality as kid why was it ok back then to get picked on for it, when you had no idea what it even meant. Unlike today we didn't have the role model in the movies, news, politics or on the sports field to be able to see that a gay person could be strong, smart and excel at whatever they wanted to.

Even though we have come so far, there are still countless LGBTQ people who are constantly fearful of being bullied, assaulted and even killed. CNN reports that there are still over “70 UN member states that criminalize same-sex relations between two consenting adults.” and go on to say that “in 26 of those countries, the penalty varies from 10 years in prison to life”. While many of us may think “this isn’t in North America” just last month a transgendered women in Texas was beaten unconscious by a mob of people, while onlookers decided to take videos instead of providing help. Even here in Canada, in our largest and most progressive city (Toronto), last summer rapper Saye Skye, who identifies as transgender, was beaten while walking through a park just for being transgendered. These are only the stories that are on the news but there are countless more that don’t make it on TV or the radio.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is celebrated on May 17th, and was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. The date was selected because on May 17th, 1990 the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental health disorder. May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal. Thousands of initiatives, big and small, are reported throughout the planet.

If you or someone you know who is LGBTQ and struggling with mental health, bullying or just needs someone to talk to, call the LGBT Youth Line (1-800-268-9688).