(I wrote this article a while ago for our college magazine so it's not recent but I feel it's still very important)

We all heard about it, changed our Facebook profile pictures in support of it, read article after article telling horror stories of how forty nine were shot dead in a gay night club in Orlando. This has rocked the lgbt community greatly, and many perceive this horrific crime against humanity as an illustration of the hatred and prejudice the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community still face in the 21st century. But I hope this is only a setback. As disgusting as the attack was, we appear to be undergoing a revolution in sexual freedom. The support for the victims has been overwhelming, with thousands queueing to donate blood to those wounded by the gunman. But why, in 2016 are the lgbt community still a prime target for discrimination and violence. Even in what seems to be a new dawn of freedom for sexual minorities, is prejudice still triumphing?

As a seventeen year old lesbian, I’m all too aware of the struggles the sexual minorities still face today; the fact there’s still a higher suicide rate amongst lgbt teens than heterosexual cisgender teen is horrifying. And the Orlando attacks in a gay night club, a place of freedom for minorities is enough to make all of us question the progression of equality in society. And even more disturbing, the gunman, Omar Mateen, was rumoured to be gay, with one of his supposed lovers even speaking out to the public. As if it is not enough that the lgbt community face hatred from others, but the internal conflict when trying to accept your sexuality or gender is clearly enough to turn one against others enduring the same struggle. Its things like this that can make sexual freedom seem so far away. Personally, I’ve never experienced that level of hatred. I’m lucky; as a white cisgender British citizen, I consider myself very fortunate compared to those who are ethnic and sexual minorities. The closest I’ve ever gotten to harassment is the judgemental looks and whispers from passers-by when embracing a girl on a date. Yes, it could be much worse. But it shouldn’t be like that at all. I hoped by this day and age I’d be able to kiss another girl in public without fear of judgement, or worse. At times like this, it’s easy for many minorities to believe that prejudice is winning, which makes the battle for equality an even greater struggle, one that seems impossible at times.

However, I believe the tables are turning. Despite the Orlando shootings, change is happening every day. Cara Delevingne kisses her girlfriend, singer St. Vincent, in the front row of a Burberry show at London fashion week. Pakistani Muslim Maria Munir comes out as non-binary to none other than President Barack Obama. Bruce Jenner begins living life as Caitlyn, sharing her journey with the world. All of these are movements towards sexual freedom, encouraging the lgbt community, young members in particular, to embrace themselves wherever they may lie on the gender and sexuality spectrums. Ten years ago, non-binary, gender fluid and bigender individuals were unheard of. Now they are having the courage to speak out, and are largely being met by love and acceptance. Now London Pride amasses around 700,000 visitors a year, all gathered to fight for liberation. These movements have given many of us, including myself, the strength to accept our sexuality. The amount of YouTube videos and Facebook posts of individuals proudly expressing their sexuality or gender is astonishing. Social media has become a platform for the revolution in freedom for the lgbt community, giving the younger generation hope for a brighter future no matter who they love. I know I speak for many of us when I say that I hope this revolution continues.

Of course, we have a long way to go, and yes, homophobia is still prominent all over the globe, and I would be lying if I said there wasn’t times when I feel ashamed to be myself, when  fear discrimination, when I’m too afraid to even talk about the girl I like. The events in Orlando have drummed that fear into many. But it seems no one is ready to shy away yet. Despite the shock of the shooting, I believe the war on prejudice is truly on, and I do not think prejudice is winning. Our generation in particular seem more and more determined to push towards equality, and now that we finally have a chance of complete liberation for minorities, its only right that we seize this opportunity.

By Rachel S.D.B

image sourced from: http://www.lovethispic.com/tag/pray+for+orlando

Published by Rachel S.D.B