Growing up in Australia meant sacrificing your true self to limit humiliation and prejudice, according to writer and LGBTIQA + activist Alexander Leon.
Despite progress in other areas, a recent survey found that most people in the LGBTIQA + community had fallen victim to denigrating language, with more than two-thirds of them hurling their way last year.
Conducted by the YouGov study, the survey interviewed both people who identify or don’t identify themselves as part of the LGBTIQA + community.
It turned out that 78 percent in the community were called homophobic words, often in high school, online or just in public.
And almost a third said they heard the hateful language from the mouth of family and friends for the first time.
The grim figures have prompted ANZ from the big bank to make a short film, Love Speech, in which young LGBTIQA identifying people are asked to say their names.
In a twist that makes no sense, they respond with previously used epithets.
Writer and social commentator Benjamin Law says that his experience growing up as a “closed child” meant that quick learning of “gay” was one of the worst things you could be.
“Usually it’s meant as a joke, but every little incentive that makes you laugh weakly at self-protection is also a step back in the closet,” Law said.
He quoted a tweet that was posted last month by fellow Australian writer Leon and that was shared more than 60,000 times on Twitter.
“Strange people don’t grow up like ourselves, we grow up a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimize humiliation and prejudice,” Mr. Leon wrote.
Part of what their young self protected against were the so-called jokes of hatred and “insisting that we are inferior,” the law said.
His comments come as Sydney prepares to organize his annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
ANZ, an important partner of the event, has launched a Love Speech campaign that coincides with the celebrations and helps to combat the use of homophobic language.
The bank has also created a digital guide – Your Guide To Love Words – with offensive words and replacement suggestions, as well as an extension for web browser Google Chrome.
The software is called Hurt Blocker and identifies deviant words on a web page and replaces them with images of hearts, unicorns or rainbows to limit the exposure of children and young adults to the language online.
Some people have complained about what they see as an increase in political correctness and the restraint of freedom of expression, the law said.
“But what can you apparently say 30 years ago – and about whom – without consequences?” he asked.
‘We are no longer children making stupid jokes. It’s time to grow up. “