Tuesday 9 August 2016

The Seven Heavenly Gay Virtues : It's Nice to be Kind

It’s very easy to think that Kindness is not all that different from the previous Heavenly Virtue I wrote about, Charity. What distinguishes them is that the act of Kindness doesn’t need to involve any form of “sacrifice” on the part of the giver. Charity is an act of responding to a need you recognise in others and offering your time or money. Kindness needs no motive to get a response. Holding a door open for someone is Kindness not Charity. Quite often, though, the line between the two becomes indistinguishable.

The opposing Deadly Sin to Kindness is Envy, the famous green-eyed monster. So let’s put Kindness onto our Rainbow Virtues flag.
Among the many awareness days that have been created there is one called World Kindness Day. Its origin takes us to the very heart of one of the biggest causes of concern in the lgbt community today.

The international movement called the World Kindness Movement was set up in 1998 on the initiative of a Japanese organisation called the Small Kindness Movement. The date of the opening day of their first conference, November 13, was designated World Kindness Day.
Kindness Day UK, which is affiliated to the World Kindness Movement and is also celebrated on November 13, was founded by Mrs. Louise Burfitt-Dons and David Janilly in 2010. Both had previously set up organisations which encouraged kindness. Louise Burfitt-Dons in particular was influenced by the growth of bullying and founded the Act Against Bullying campaign. This was a response to the bullying her own daughter has received at school and also to the rising cases of cyber-bullying that were being reported. She created several other “kindness” campaigns before she founded the UK Kindness Movement and co-found Kindness Day UK.

The aims of Louise Burfitt-Dons campaigns have always emphasised the need to challenge all forms of bullying and abuse, and this has included homophobia and transphobia.

Several times in the past decade we have heard of young lgbt victims of cyber-bullying taking their own lives. The most high profile case was that of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, who took his own life in 2010 after his room-mate distributed footage he took secretly of Tyler with another man. In the worst cases the bullying have become physically violent and ended in the death of a gay youth. Mathew Shepherd’s 1988 murder has led to legislation in the USA dealing with hate crimes.

Even the fact that people are not gay has not been enough to stop anti-gay bullying in schools. The word “gay” has been used as an insult for many years.

In the UK similar, though rarer, events have occasionally hit the headlines. The name of Damilola Taylor, of an immigrant family from Nigeria, is still known. He was bullied at school and was often called gay. Damilola didn’t even know what “gay” meant, and he wasn’t homosexual. But the bullying continued until eventually his bullies stabbed his and he bled to death.

The specific problems of homophobic bullying have influence the creation of several campaigns and charities. Louise Burfitt-Dons’ Act Against Bullying includes providing advice to schools on how to tackle anti-gay bullying. The leading lgbt charity in the UK, Stonewall, also has its anti-bullying campaign.

In the USA many celebrities and members of the international community have lent their support to the It Gets Better Project.

The problem of battling the bullies is still with us. Only last week a young American youth committed suicide because he was the victim of homophobic bullying. People wonder why the lgbt community wants to keep holding Pride events. The answer is plain and simple - we are being bullied and abused and want to show our support for victims, and the Orlando massacre a month ago proves that point more than any other this summer.

Bullying may never be eradicated. But I hope that all of us have enough kindness in our hearts to show that bullying is not acceptable. It sounds a bit twee, but what’s wrong with being kind, polite and nice to each other?

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