I have come to the realisation that I am an incredibly fortunate person. I am gay. I came out at the age of fourteen to a family that shrugged their shoulders, said “big deal” and told me that they loved me. I have always been sure of myself and my sexuality, and having accepted myself at a young age, I have been able to move forward through life with confidence and without shame. Sure, things were a little rocky at school (coming out at 14 isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, I must say) but I encountered nothing I couldn’t handle with a raised middle finger and a simple “fuck you”.
I have found love and because I live in a country with marriage equality, I have been able to make a lifelong commitment to my love and I’m honoured to be able to call him my husband. Sexual orientation is also a protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010), which means that it would be unlawful for someone to discriminate against me, whether directly or indirectly, due to my sexuality and therefore, I cannot lose my job or be denied a service because I am gay. Most importantly, I live without fear and I live openly with freedom.
This however, is not the case for every LGBT person in the world. Whilst we have been celebrating pride over the weekend and the American Supreme Court’s decision that all states must offer marriage equality, we mustn’t forget that it is still illegal to be gay in 76 countries around the globe. I can live and love freely, but others cannot, and sometimes those that cannot risk, not only imprisonment for their love, but also death. A fact that is astonishing in this day and age. Imagine risking death to be yourself, or love who you want. It’s almost impossible to believe, isn’t it? We take our love for granted, where others have to fight for theirs, or even worse, they have to conceal it.
“Lather up and love your skin with our palm free soap base, scented with the iconic Love fragrance. Love the LGBT community and the campaign group All Out, when money from your purchase funds grassroots campaign groups around the world. But before you get your bar wet, show your love online by posting a Love Soap selfie to say that you think #GayIsOk.”
UK cosmetics company, Lush, have launched a campaign to raise awareness and offer support to those living in countries where their love is illegal. They are doing this via the medium of soap, specifically the ‘Love Soap’. The Love Soap is a golden block of glitter scented with their iconic ‘Love‘ fragrance (a bright blend of lemongrass, bergamot, jasmine, rose, and ylang ylang) and embellished with the campaign’s hash tag #GayIsOK. The soap costs £4 and we’re encouraged not only to buy it, but also take a selfie with it and tell the world exactly why it really is OK to be gay. The profits from the soap will be donated to LGBT causes and enough soap has been produced to raise a whopping £250,000.
Lush have established their ‘Love Fund’ to help donate these profits to “LGBT organisations fighting for rights, equality and acceptance around the world”. A Love Fund panel of LGBT specialists is also being established to direct where the money should go. But why are they doing this? Surely there are more important causes to be thinking about? Just take a look at the following facts:
- “In 76 countries, it’s a crime to be gay. In 10 it can cost you your life.
- There is no country in the world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people have full equality.
- 2.8 billion people live in countries where living openly means sacrificing your family, freedom, safety or dignity.”
Equality for the LGBT community has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, but in some countries rights are regressing rather than progressing. Russia has implemented a law banning homosexual propaganda to anyone under the age of 18, making it impossible to portray homosexuality in a positive light, and also creating a climate of fear and intolerance. In fact, this law means that the Love Soap cannot be sold in Russia, and there are a total of 80 Lush stores across the world that cannot participate in the campaign due to intolerant laws. Further to this, countries, such as India have made it illegal to be gay within the last two years. There’s still such a long way to go.
So, let’s celebrate our pride, but let’s not forget those in the world who are not so fortunate and cannot express their sexuality freely, nor love who they want to so freely. Let’s try and craft a world where love is not illegal and where acceptance, not tolerance is the norm. Buy a soap (heck, why not buy two?!). Tweet up a storm. Take a selfie (any excuse for a selfie nowadays is a good one) and Instagram it to death. Tell the world that it’s as OK to be gay as it is to have brown hair. Let’s support those in the world who cannot leave with freedom and without fear. Every little helps.
You can; purchase the soap here as well as at Lush stores; and read about global LGBT rights here; and learn about how the Love Fund will work here; and read a blog post from AllOut on the subject here.
Images my own. Soap purchased myself. Quotes via Lush.