Fifty-five years ago, Bob Dylan sang ‘The times they are a-changin’, a song reflecting the generation gap and the political divide which marked American culture in the 60s.
It’s a song that still resonates today, of course, and the success of the third annual Fife Pride event earlier this month – complete with bumper crowd decked out with rainbow colours and flags – would suggest members of the LGBTI community are visible, valued and respected for who they are and what they stand for.
It is hard to believe, let alone fathom, the fact men engaging in homosexual activities faced the death penalty as late as 1861 in this country, while the imprisoning and/or chemical castration approach of mid 20th century should be viewed upon as a regrettable stain on our society’s history.
Nowadays, thankfully, the vast majority of people don’t necessarily see people as gay, bisexual, transgender or whatever they may be, but as a person first and foremost.
It almost seemed like previous generations feared what they didn’t understand, but growing numbers of people have helped to turn that around for the better in more recent times.
Normalising things creates acceptance, and the fact Pride has moved from becoming what was essentially a protest in the 70s and 80s to the huge celebration of diversity it is today says it all about how far society has come in that respect.
Having said that, some of the stories we’ve had to report on in the past few weeks would indicate there is still work to be done.
Whether it be a taxi driver asking a group of friends if they were going to the “p***s party”, someone scribbling ‘Bums to the wall lads’ on a Fife Pride-related notice, or mindless idiots hauling down and destroying rainbow flags, it’s clear work still has to be done in changing attitudes.
For what it’s worth, I’ve no place to tell people what they should think about any topic. Each to their own, and if someone has a different viewpoint to me then I’m happy to debate it.
I accept people might have beliefs that are different from mine.
But tolerance and respect are two different things.
In my opinion, the kind of slurs we’ve seen in Fife recently demonstrated a distinct lack of respect, not only for members of the LGBTI community but their friends and families who support them.
Pride is all about promoting people’s self worth and encouraging them to be themselves, and I defy anyone not to admire people who have often wrestled with their own conscience and battled their own demons, dealt with the bullies growing up and a childhood often wrecked by anxiety, to come out and be totally open and honest about that.
The best way to support LGBTI people is to treat them the same as everyone else in my book, and here’s hoping that day will come soon.