Did you know that until May 17 1990, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in the International Classification of Diseases? That’s right, the World Health Organisation decided that being queer was not simply an innate part of one’s self, but rather a mental disorder that needed curing.
Now, if you’re born after 1985 it might sound almost laughable to think about because obviously being queer isn’t a disease. However, the grim reality is that this classification was not only real, it held deadly consequences for many folks throughout queer history.
Before the 1940s, homosexuality was considered criminal activity and could be punishable by jail time, however in the 1950s the prevailing attitude shifted towards queerness being a disease in need of curing instead. As a result, some who were “diagnosed” with homosexuality faced an onslaught of medical abuse and experimentation; sometimes ending up in psychiatric facilities to receive “treatments” if their case of homosexuality seemed “severe” enough. These treatments could include medications, conversion therapies, sterilisation or electroshock to “fix” their illness and return them to “normal” aka heterosexual.
International Day Against Homophobia, Biohobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (or IDAHOBIT) is celebrated on May 17. The day holds particular significance throughout history as it was this day, back in 1990, that the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. It is a day to look back at both how far we’ve come and to raise awareness for how much further we have to go.
Now, let’s look at some ways you can honour the date, its meaning and celebrate all that it stands for intentionally.
To live up to the IDAHOBIT spirit, we have to start with what it’s all about, which is calling out homophobia, biphobia, interphobia and transphobia. While it can feel scary to share an Instagram story, pin a poster up at work or wear rainbow colours to school, your influence on the people around you is valuable and important. Whether you have three friends or three hundred, by openly stating your support for the LGBT community, you’re letting the people around you know where you stand (and let any closeted folks around you know you’re a safe person). You can scope some IDAHOBIT-friendly pieces here.
Did you know that there are 73 jurisdictions around the world that still have laws criminalising homosexual activity between same sex adults? Did you know New Zealand only banned conversation therapy practices this year? Did you know that some homosexual men in Britain were being forced to have hormone therapy to reduce their desire for gay sex until 2003? Whether you answered yes or no, there are definitely friends and family of yours who are unaware of this so consider starting a conversation at dinner tonight! Sharing informational resources can also help answer questions some potential allies may be too scared to ask. Don't know where to start? Rudy Jean Rigg's Rainbow History Class has almost half a million followers on TikTok so head right over here.
When you have the means, making donations (big or small) to LGBTQIA+ charities and organisations enables so much incredible work to continue. Consider also donating to a GoFundMe, when queer people ask for help on social media and other direct transfers to help those in immediate crisis: community care is vital. You can start right here.
Follow More LGBTQIA+ Creators
A great way to get to know more about the LGBTQIA+ community directly is by following LGBTQIA+ creators on social media. TikTok, Instagram and Discord have many incredible Australian and NZ content makers who give you a whole lot of life realness when it comes to LGBTQIA+ history.
Get started with some of our favourites below:
- AJ Clementine
- Courtney Act
- Micah Scott
- Felicia Foxx
- Samantha Andrew
- Frances Cannon
- Khanh Ong
- Rude Jean Rigg
If you don’t know much about the LGBTQIA+ community, there are so many ways you can educate yourself, all while keeping pretty entertained. Read these books, listen to these podcasts, and binge these movies and TV series that hero LGBTQIA+ stories.
Next up, check out this guide on how you can be a better trans ally. After you've given them a follow, get familiar these seven trans activists breaking barriers around the world. Finally, check out Minus 18's helpful inclusive language guide (and share it with your mates).
For more info on IDAHBOT and how you help support today and beyond, head here.
Image credit: Daya Czepanski