Stonewall is 25 this year.
Happy birthday Stonewall!
I’m 25 too although not for much longer. I’ll be celebrating my birthday tomorrow by heading down to a local protest against victim blaming rape and sexual assault survivors.
Stonewall is also celebrating,
“25 years of campaigning so that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are free to love and be loved”,
with a ‘first SNOG’ campaign. Now in theory I can get on board with the campaign: supporting change so that anyone can kiss their partner(s) wherever they like sounds great to me!
I live in a country where I can kiss my partner without fear of criminal charges or state persecution. In practice this isn’t so simple. In reality we can’t have our first, second or 3456th snog out in the street. We don’t often hold hands and rarely kiss in public unless we’re in an area we’ve experienced little or no abuse in. My partner isn’t out about her sexuality to the customers in her place of work because many of them are homophobic so if I walk her there we’ll hug goodbye.
This isn’t uncommon for many queer couples.
When we kiss in the street we out ourselves and we make ourselves a target. Of course I would love to be shouting from the rooftops that I love my girlfriend and I’m out to many people but as a matter of self-preservation I just don’t want the abuse that comes from kissing in the street. I don’t want the fear of violence that comes from loving who I love.
Stonewall has joined with SNOG, a frozen yoghurt company I’d previously never heard of probably because they only have shops in London and some Waitrose sell their goods (according to their website my closest SNOG is 120 miles away). Anyway they have launched rainbow coloured froyo (that’s what the kids call it yeah?) to raise money and ‘awareness’ (I have issues with awareness raising campaigns, ask me about it sometime). You can take a selfie in their app which is downloadable and um get involved in um changing the world. How again? Oh raising money (by texting SNOG to 70300 which gives Stonewall £3) that was it. I knew there was a link to activism somewhere…
Stonewall is trying here but it just doesn’t reflect reality for many of us. Our snogs are hidden, behind closed doors, sneaking in and sneaking out, in darkness and in fear. I’m sure all these predominantly heterosexual cisgender celebrities taking SNOG selfies feel like they’re making a difference here but you aren’t making people kissing their partners any easier. You aren’t changing the world and I’m not sure if this campaign is even trying to. Even the word snog has all these connotations of teenage fumbling and for me all my teenage fumbling was conducted in a mess of confusion about my gender and my sexuality that I tried really hard to keep a secret in a very small town. I’d maybe like this campaign more if it was aimed at all those teenagers currently negotiating their first snogs but it appears to be aimed at adults looking back and I just don’t understand why.
Maybe on my 26th birthday I’ll hold my girlfriend’s hand on this protest. It’s late at night. It’ll be dark. Maybe next year Stonewall will have a birthday I’ll feel I can be part of. Maybe I’ll be less cynical and eat frozen yoghurt.”