International Day Against... what?
Saturday May 17th is IDAHO - the International Day Against Homophobia - but is it just a waste of time?
It's easy to forget the huge impact that homophobia has on our lives. If you pause for a moment to reflect, you'll realise that it's always sitting like a shadow at the back of your mind. Think of the various places and situations in which you would never dare give off any indication that you are anything other than a 'normal heterosexual'. I know various friends whose past experiences mean that they react angrily against any affection shown them in public. Hugs and kisses are a huge no.
In this light, I have a lot of respect for the organisers of IDAHO, a day which encourages people around the world to come together and speak out against homophobia. But a part of me - and I don't think I'm alone in this - has a tendency to sneer at IDAHO as something naive and pointless that will never really make a difference.
The problem I have with IDAHO is its low profile. There are only two days until Saturday, but IDAHO's presence in the national media remains practically non-existent. A colleague yesterday remarked with surprise, "I didn't realise that was still going on." As a news-boy I'm aware of IDAHO through various press releases and the gay media, but a day aimed at tackling homophobia needs to shout, not whisper. If people don't know about it, how is it ever going to make a real difference?
But then I got to thinking about what the battle against homophobia really means. There is never going to be one single, huge event that rids the world of homophobia, no Monty Python-esque foot descending from the sky and squishing prejudice. The fight will happen in increments - a new law here, a changed attitude there - chipping away at homophobia but by bit.
So, yes, IDAHO could do with a higher profile. But the fact that it is happening and changing people's attitudes (even one attitude at a time) is hugely important and shouldn't go unappreciated. It certainly shouldn't be brushed off as 'a waste of time'.