Imagine a World of Acceptance

Imagine a world of acceptance for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Imagine a world that embraces the human dignity and human rights of every person, couple and family irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. This world is possible.

In 2004, a group of such visionaries created IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the media and the public to the reality of violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI persons around the world. Now understood at IDAHOT, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

While it is a day to draw attention to the unnecessary fear of those who are different, of those who are our sisters and brothers, our mothers, fathers, friends and part of all of our families, schools, villages, communities and nations; it is also a worldwide celebration of persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

IDAHOT is now celebrated in over 130 countries including 37 where homosexuality is illegal and criminalized. We are grateful for those visionaries who came together in 2004 to make May 17 a day of education, advocacy and celebration. Every event, celebration, blog post and sharing by social media is part of the local and global work that will change the world to this place for acceptance and embrace of LGBTI people and their families.

We’re grateful that Congresswoman Barbara Lee sponsored a resolution from the United States Congress for this year’s IDAHOT. “Unfortunately, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination against the LGBT community can still be found in communities across our nation and around the world. Whether it is in the form of hatred, exclusion, bigotry or violence, it is unacceptable. I hope this resolution is another step in the direction of full equality and acceptance for all,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

President Barack Obama of the United States offered this statement today in support of IDAHOT. “Michelle and I join our fellow Americans and others around the world in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia tomorrow, May 17. We take this opportunity to reaffirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are of whom they love.”

This year the United Nations Free and Equal Campaign has created a special video for IDAHOT, May 17 entitled Faces. Free and Equal is a United Nations’ campaign for LGBT equality. This third film from the campaign, Faces, asks the question. “Can you see past the label?” We hope that you will watch the film now and then share it with others, your family, friends and your networks.

As you know, we are all human beings beyond the labels of gay or straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex. We are all children of God, created in the image of God and unconditionally loved by God. May this Faces video be an inspiring affirmation and reminder of who you are, of your human dignity and sacred worth; and of all persons, everywhere. We are one human family.

The photograph above comes from the solo exhibition MO(U)RNING by South African LGBTI visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi. For Muholi, MO(U)RNING evokes death but also suggests the cycle of life as morning follows night. Life and death, love and hate are some of the antitheses that appear throughout her work.