Progress in equality

The World's Progress With Equality Is Not Exactly Where We Think It Is

The oppression of target groups is still going strong, all over the world.

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If you're on Instagram as much as I am, you may have seen the latest in Anti-LGBT laws in Brunei: a small island country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Brunei, officially called the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace, has a history both as a sovereign state and as a British protectorate. It gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1984, currently holds the second-highest Human Development Index amongst Southeast Asian nations (second to Singapore), is ranked as fifth in the world by gross domestic product per capita, and is considered to be the fifth-richest nation out of 182 in the world.

Brunei is ruled by a sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, who also holds the position of the first and incumbent Prime Minister of Brunei. He is considered to be one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, with an estimated wealth of about $20 billion in 2011. His wealth stems from the oil and gas development in Brunei, and he is known for lavish spending. In addition to the oil and gas, he also owns a string of hotels: The Dorchester Collection.

Recently, it has come to light that the Sultan of Brunei has been behind the legislation to punish adultery and gay sex by stoning individuals to death. This is a gross human rights violation against the LGBT community in Brunei, under the guise of strict religious law. Before these new laws and punishments were announced, homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei, and punishable by up to ten years in prison. The death penalty had been retained, but not carried out since 1957—at least not until these laws came to surface. Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell organized a demonstration outside the Dorchester hotel, and likened these new laws to those put in place by the terrorist organization ISIS:

"What the sultan has done has introduced punishments the same as ISIS implemented in Iraq and Syria during its so-called caliphate, including brutal stoning to death of people convicted of homosexuality, adultery, and insulting the Prophet Muhammad."

As a result of protestors like Tatchell, people are taking note of these injustices against the citizens of Brunei. Over 65,000 people have signed a petition on the United Kingdom parliament's website that called for the government to "urgently call for an end to human rights violations against the LGBT community in Brunei." Celebrities are also doing their parts, as talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor George Clooney are amongst those who encourage the public to boycott the chain of luxury hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

If you're like me, and probably would never end up staying in one of these luxury hotels, regardless of the situation, here's how you can help protest Brunei's treatment of its LGBT population:

  • Stay informed and inform others; just because you won't go to these hotels does not mean that everyone knows about the background behind them, including the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel
  • Sign and spread the petition put up by the UK parliament
  • Boycott the Royal Brunei Airlines

Many large businesses are already playing their part by boycotting Brunei's services, and in doing so are making their dissent and disagreement with this new legislation known. Hopefully, it will result in laws promoting the safety of all citizens, rather than laws targeting people.

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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All People Should Be Aware Of The Social Injustice Regarding Difference In Skin Color

How having a different skin color means that society looks at you different.

hannahd
hannahd
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Do you ever sit in class and just kind of look out into the distance, and sooner or later you find yourself not paying attention and then whoops you're on your phone? Well, I did in class (don't tell my mom) but I was scrolling on Twitter and came across this tweet. It read:

"My best friend has to work TWICE as hard as I do to receive the SAME opportunities I get just because of the differences in the color of our skin. That is an issue. And shame on me for not using my voice sooner. Shame on me for not bringing attention to the subject. This isn't for clout this isn't for likes this based of the fact that I'm so PISSED OFF at the way I have seen society treat my best friend. If I call you my brother I will fight this fight with you until I am blue in the face. Don't add to the problem be apart of the solution. Skin is just skin at the end of the day people who look different than me have helped me through some of my toughest times. Open your heart to love and acceptance this is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave… let's try and act like it."

In our society, today, if you truly think that people with a different skin complexion, take a step back and really look at our world today. This guy noticed one of his very best friends, same age, has to work just as hard even harder then he does to obtain the respect and things that he deserves. In one of my classes, we talked about the "public opinion after" blacks and whites see differently.

People of color see the world in a completely different light then white people do. A white parent tells there kid to go have fun and be safe and a person of color parent says the same thing but might add be home before the street lights come on, be home before sundown something like that. I am not saying that white parents might not say that but black kids have to be more cautious about staying out in the dark after certain times. People say that a person of color is less likely to finish high school and if they do they are more likely to drop out of college, and I have heard people say that about their peers.

Now, what gives YOU the right to determine someone else's future other than your own?

The point is that people of color have to be more cautious and work twice as hard as a white person. People are held to a different standard, there is more expected out of them. They have harsher punishments than a white person. A white person can do something far worse than a person of color and the white man gets the slap on the wrist and six months and the person of color gets at least ten years. Or a person of color can do nothing at all and a white person can feel "threatened" and completely kill the person of color and never see time behind bars.

Society needs to change. People need to change and open up their eyes and see what type of world we are living in. Is it really changing or are you just picking and choosing what you want to see?

hannahd
hannahd

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