Photo of a vigil in Paris for the Orlando shooting (Geuffroy Van Der Hasselt/Agence France-Presse Via Getty Images)

This post is largely derived from a speech I gave to my CIU110 class for our final assignment, it was about why LGBT representation matters in video games. There’s many parallels between this post and my speech, and given the events of late, I think it’s time put this out there in blog form.

The Western world we live in is – for the most part – fair and just. People from all over the world have a reasonable chance to succeed in life. We can all make choices that change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. Choices are the foundation of our free society. The choices we make define the future of us and those around us – a future that too many LGBT people may never see. Very recently, many of us awoke to read Earth-shattering news. A man had entered a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida and killed 50 people and injured 53. We heard heart-wrenching news of investigators walking among the corpses hearing phones ringing repeatedly – loved ones desperate for answers. We heard about a brave man who helped another from bleeding out during the chaos. We heard about the man who was stranded with the killer in the bathroom, texting his mother. The shooter, Omar Mateen, made a choice to sell his soul for a hopeless cause, a choice for which he paid the ultimate price. The massacre marks the latest event in a long saga of LGBT people who are slowly trying to prove their existence and gain rights and recognition all over the world. Just as recently, there were reports of an armed man who told police he was going to go to the L.A. Pride March, presumably to spill blood. A few days before that, a story came across my feed about a gay man choosing to euthanise himself – he can’t bear his sexuality anymore.

As we know, inequality for LGBT is nothing new. Statistically speaking, lesbian, gay and bisexual people are twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders, with 80% of LGBT people report having an anxiety episode in 2010. In the UK, 80% of transgender people have had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime, with 50% attempting to kill themselves. Up to 80% of LGB people encounter public insult, 20% explicit threats, and 18% face physical assault, and 80% of all occurs at school. As a result, the average age for LGBT suicide is 16 years old – often before they can come out of the closet. Lastly, Intersex people have the hardest lives of all. Intersex people – those born with an amalgam of male and female sexual organs – usually show the same psychological distress that someone suffering severe physical and sexual abuse would undergo. LGB people are most accepted, with huge support networks and events catering to them. Transgender people are less accepted, but are slowly finding their place. Intersex people have almost no awareness or support, and as a result find themselves struggling to integrate into society. Overall, LGBT people have the highest rates of suicide of any population in Australia. They choose to end their lives before they can see what beauty lies before them.

It’s clear that queer youth find themselves in an identity crisis. Nobody should be afraid to be who they are. As the friends and family of these people, it’s our responsibility to show them who they can be and what they’re capable of doing. We need television shows like Sense8 (2015), Jessica Jones (2015) and that show us what it means to be gay, lesbian and transgender. We need video games like Bioware’s Mass Effect (2007) and Dragon Age (2009) franchise to provide vectors to express who we are. We need movies like Holding the Man (2015) and Bridegroom (2013) to show us what it means to be gay. If there’s a chance that LGBT representation in the media will change someone’s mind about suicide, social suffering, seeking help, it’s a chance worth taking. We need to understand that two men or women loving is equally as beautiful, to know that transgender people are no less human than anyone else, that intersex people exist and deserve respect and recognition.

In the face of tragedy, we choose to prevail.

For as long as we have pastors like Steven Anderson spouting that “there’s 50 less paedophiles in the world”, for every time I have to research if I can be killed or imprisoned for loving another man overseas, for every time my boyfriend won’t hold my hand in public and for every time a bar is the only place for LGBT people to be themselves, we will never be equal.

I ask that those who read this endeavour to support your LGBT friends and family. Attending marriage equality and Pride marches, as well as participating in Wear it Purple day are powerful gestures that will make waves in seeking equality. LGBT people in the public eye need to stand up and be the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. If you are reading this, but for any reason can’t be the person you are, take heart, your time to shine is yet to come. Nobody else should die because of fear, hatred, injustice. The world has had enough.

If you do feel stranded, you aren’t alone. You can seek help at The Trevor Project available here: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ or at Lifeline, available here: https://www.lifeline.org.au/

References

Bridegroom. (2016). USA.

Dragon Age (Version 1.0). (2009). Edmonton.

Ellis, R. (2016). 49 killed in Florida nightclub terror attack. CNN. Retrieved 13 June 2016, from http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/orlando-nightclub-shooting/

Holding the Man. (2015). Australia.

Hudson, D. (2016). Christian pastor says Orlando club massacre is ‘good news’: ‘50 Less Pedophiles in This World’ – Gay Star News. Gay Star News. Retrieved 13 June 2016, from http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/christian-pastor-says-orlando-lgbti-club-massacre-good-news-50-less-pedophiles-world/

Mass Effect (Version 1.0). (2016). Edmonton.

SBS,. (2016). ‘I’m gonna die’: Man trapped in Orlando gay club texted his mother, then he stopped. sbs.com.au. Retrieved 13 June 2016, from http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/06/13/im-gonna-die-man-trapped-orlando-gay-club-texted-his-mother-then-he-stopped

Sense8. (2015). USA.

Tan, N. (2016). Nursing student shares how he saved a man’s life during the Orlando mass shooting – Gay Star News. Gay Star News. Retrieved 13 June 2016, from http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/nursing-student-saved-life-orlando-mass-shooting/#gs.WSFHgA8

Carroll, A. & Itaborahy, L. (2015). State Sponsored Homophobia (p. 6). http://www.ilga.org.

Herman, T., Rice-Oxley, M., & Cage, F. (2014). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights around the world. the Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2014/may/-sp-gay-rights-world-lesbian-bisexual-transgender

Karmali, L. (2014). Why We Need More Gay Characters In Video Games – IGN. IGN. Retrieved 8 May 2016, from http://au.ign.com/articles/2014/03/14/why-we-need-more-gay-characters-in-video-games

Rosenstreich, G. (2013). LGBTI People (pp. 3-4). Sydney: Beyond Blue. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-and-suicide-2013-2nd-edition.pdf?sfvrsn=2

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