17th May is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The global day helps highlight how far we still must go in fully recognising the rights—and humanity—of LGBTQIA+ people all over the world.
Most people have heard of Pride—events that celebrate protest and progress made by queer people in rights and acceptance—but fewer people have heard of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHoBiT). Since 2004, the day has been marked every year to highlight challenges that LGBTQIA+ people face every day, all over the world.
It may seem to some that the fight against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia has been won. Sadly, that could not be further from the truth. Whilst we have come a long way in terms of legal protections and equal rights, being open about your identity can bring about exclusion, threats, or even violence. For people whose gender or sexuality is outside the cisgender heterosexual norm, the threat of discrimination, rejection, or violence is coupled with a relative lack of representation of our lives in the mainstream of politics, popular culture, and media.
Although recent films and TV portray more diverse characters, this has seen queer people accused of shoving their identities in peoples’ faces. The portrayal of lives like ours in films and TV is often a double-edged sword. LGBTQIA+ characters’ identities are often being hinted at but never confirmed, or once confirmed queer they are beset by tragedy – rejection, assault, or worse. It’s so well-known, there’s a term for it in queer circles: “bury your gays.”
Queer people’s mental and physical health can be profoundly impacted by what is sometimes known as “minority stress”. Stress can manifest itself in mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression as well as physically through headaches, digestive problems, and chronic fatigue.
Three processes contribute to minority stress for LGBTQIA+ people: objectively distressing events such as denial of employment or physical assault; the expectation of such distressing events; and internalised negative societal attitudes. Whilst IDAHoBiT is predominantly focused on bigotry in society, internalised homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are serious issues for queer people. Policing their own behaviour to try to better conform to social expectations can be especially painful, leading to self-harm and attempted or completed suicide for some.
 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Assexual people plus allies and other associated identities.
 Cisgender is the opposite of transgender, meaning that your gender matches with the one you were assumed to have a birth based on your physical characteristics
 “Bury your Gays.” TV Tropes, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BuryYourGays accessed 08/05/2022
 Meyer I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological bulletin, 129(5), 674–697. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.674 accessed 08/05/2022