We can change the world! If this sentence were not valid, many things that we now take for granted would not be possible today. All these powerful achievements such as democracy and human rights would not be possible in many places if others had not believed that they could change something, move something, improve something.
If we look through the history books of the queer movement, we find many examples that show that we can change the world. And also have to change. For us. For those who are not allowed to raise their voices. For those who come after us.
Because a lot is still a catastrophe, or how else should you describe it? In almost 70 countries around the world, gay, lesbian and bisexual people, as well as trans*, intersex and non-binary people are still being persecuted, harassed, attacked and imprisoned and sometimes even murdered by the state.
And part of the truth is: In about ten of these countries, we and our communities are threatened with the death penalty – just because people like us want to live their desires, their love, their lives in freedom there.
This list of inhumanity has been known for many years, but no one seems to really care – or, how come Qatar, one of those countries where workers are not free but are treated like slaves and deprived of their rights, like is it that Qatar, one of those countries where women have no rights, how come that Qatar, one of those countries where homosexuals and queer people have to fear for their lives because they face the death penalty there, yes, how come it that Qatar will be allowed to host the FIFA World Cup in a few months?
It’s like always. It seems as if the world has not understood or learned anything. And it also seems, we should admit so much self-criticism, as if the things we take for granted have made the queer communities quieter, happier, more selfish. But what do all our achievements bring us as long as not every person can live their own life in peace, in love, in security and freedom? Nothing!
And while I can understand the human reflex that one prefers to tell others what they should do better than to start with themselves, we cannot avoid continuing to work for real equality here in Germany. Because we’re not there yet. Five years after the marriage opened up, our intoxication with joy should slowly have faded away, allowing us to see more clearly.
Human dignity is inviolable – that is the guiding principle of our democracy.
We are proud of this value compass, but we have no reason to be. At least not until queer people, who should have a right to be visible as such, can live freely and safely with us. Because visibility always means discrimination and violence for us, for us non-binary, trans* and intersex people, for us bisexuals, lesbians and gays.
In the last Corona year alone, there were more than 1,000 reported attacks on us nationwide. Statistically, that makes three attacks every day somewhere in our country. Three times a day someone insults, spits on, hits and injures their friends, neighbors, colleagues, partners, parents and children. Many of us are hospitalized in the process, without wanting to list the mental wounds here. There is not enough space in this text for that.
The number of unreported cases is almost percent because most of the police forces in the federal states do not yet record attacks on us as what they actually are: hate crimes against queer people. That should change. Sometime. So much for dignity.
We keep repeating Article 1 of the Basic Law like a mantra, but what does it mean if trans* people are still not allowed to live a dignified, self-determined life here?
The good news is: The federal government made up of SPD, Greens and FPD will replace this unspeakable, inhuman transsexual law with a dignified right to self-determination. That’s for sure! And quite fundamentally: Our basic law, guided by its 1st article, owes it to the trans* people in our country.
But we have to be honest with ourselves – especially we, especially we lesbians and gays: In each of our struggles for equality, trans* men and trans* women have always stood by our side.
Whether it was back then in New York on Christopher Street, in front of the small Stonewall bar, when the riots against police violence were taking place with the participation of black trans* women – or when fighting paragraph 175 here in Germany, or at coping with the AIDS crisis, when it felt like everyone was keeping their distance from us, or the introduction of a civil partnership law, or whether it was just the opening of marriage – we could always rely on our trans* community. Always! And now they need us! You need us now more than ever!
But instead of supporting them, standing by their side, instead of putting us in solidarity and protectively in front of and behind them, there are always gays and lesbians who decide to look the other way or even oppose trans* people. This is unworthy of our queer history.
Standing up for others is the most political thing you can do. Standing by others is the key to freedom.
The fight against this freedom, against a self-determined life, is in full swing – radical conservatives, radical clericals and radical nationalist forces abhor change, they abhor diversity and equality. They abhor queer life. We should therefore think carefully about where we come from and where we want to go – and above all, which side we want to be on.
Marriage for all may have brought many of us to our goal, but there is no freedom, no equality, no self-determination if it does not apply to all. In recent years in particular, we humans have not been known to have had a long attention span for topics.
We urgently need to get better again, because we all need staying power when it comes to these issues. But it’s worth it, because we can change the world with it. For those who come after us. For those who are not allowed to raise their voices. For the freedom.