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Our own private Idaho?

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Idaho) provides a much needed opportunity for reflection


While the UK marches towards gay marriage, victimisation of LGBT people continues to be rife in other parts of the world. On Saturday the global LGBT community will celebrate the ninth International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Idaho) as activists organise events to tackle prejudice and provoke action. In London, the day will be marked with a talk at Conway Hall by Dr Matt Cook, senior lecturer in History and Gender Studies at the University of London.

Cook will examine how attitudes to sexuality in general have changed since World War II and how this has precipitated gay rights advances in the UK.

‘Broader changes in wider sexual and relationship mores are one of the reasons gay people have got to where they are,’ says Cook. Despite homophobic attacks in the East End in 2010, gay Londoners now enjoy a much safer city. Cook is worried, however, that one of the greatest threats to the idea of community now comes from within.

‘Among gay men I find levels of casual transphobia and phobia about femininity shocking,’ admits Cook. ‘Now they have more rights, some gay men feel they can only hold on to those by excluding others.

‘We’ve developed a notion of a homogenised gay scene that is a visible, colourful tourist attraction, which is great, but we must be mindful that this doesn’t always fit people who don’t behave or look a particular way.’

Idaho is on Fri May 17.

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