Reflections #AllWelcome by Wilbert T
I have restrained myself from writing about the whole ’sticker’ kerfuffle for the last 12 hours or so … but well… here we are, I could not contain myself any longer. Perhaps it's the rumblings of the mind at 1 AM. Now I should point out that this is a subjective opinion that does not reflect the position of any of the organisations I represent of form part of, nor have I been involved in the creation of this system. In the ideal World labels should not exist. We are all Homo Sapiens irrespective of the various properties each individual posseses. Unfortunately for everyone, the Global reality presents a stark difference to this utopian dream. I am personally against labelling of any kind, I merely see diversity in the properties of a human being … yeah that 1% in your DNA. In the case of this ‘sticker’ issue - I do not think it is a label - it’s merely a pointer at directing people/tourists. 1. There have been a lot of arguments about having all the rights in place and the anti-discriminatory law. It is unfortunate that there is the current trend of taking these for granted. Having the laws in place does not mean that the mentality of an entire population has changed. Having the laws in place does not absolve anyone from still feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable in certain places. It is very dangerous to take these for granted. The pendulum can swing back at any moment in a collective shift - just look at the US. This is a perfect example as to why there is still a Pride march going on. 2. Malta did not re-invent the wheel. I’ve encountered many such similar ‘stickers’ in my travels across Europe. Someone who is unfamiliar to a particular area would know that a certain establishment is queer friendly. My peers and I found these quite helpful many a time. Furthermore, it is not the first time that foreign friends of mine have asked where one could find LGBTI+ safe-spaces/establishments in Malta. Does there need to be such a thing? Unfortunately yes! There are many queer folk which still feel uncomfortable visiting mainstream establishments and would rather opt for specific places. There is already a way to get a list of such places (eg: the Pink Directory by The Allied Rainbow Communities - ARC), so this is not too different from that. 3. Let us not forget that the community does not revolve around the white cisgender homosexual male. Perhaps, just perhaps, other folk may face harsher discriminations and they seek safe spaces much more than others. 4. Most overlooked the fact that this is part of a tourism product and hence the ‘sticker’ is targeted mainly towards tourists who are unfamiliar with the country. 5. Another overlooked factor was that there is an information session which the business stakeholders have to attend. I am not informed on the contents of this information session but I would suppose it is educational in nature and aimed at creating awareness about different queer issues. Having the marker would mean that the personnel are well informed. 6. Ergo, why are some so concerned about being labelled through this and are then to be found flag waving during a pride march? Where is the sense of community now? 7. Perhaps the ‘sticker’ could have been created as an inclusion marker (ie: we do not discriminate based on anything …). Agreed. Why all this hassle about a ‘sticker’? (those who bypassed the fact that it is mostly about an awareness campaign through info sessions). We should be focusing on creating more awareness ourselves. Do not take anything for granted. There is so much more to be done and this is why activists, such as myself, still exist. Let’s try and see things from other people’s perspective and not our own narrow tunnel vision which tends to happen even more so in tiny communities (read: tiny island). I am not absolving myself from this last statement. I think we all fall victim to our own perceptions from time to time. At the end of the day let us not forget that there are others and it’s not just about us. Diversity is at the centre of a people, as it is at the heart of LGBTI+ So yeah fell free to disagree 🙂 Might be a good spunto for discussion.