The shocking abuse aimed at Tom Daley over baby news should be a wakeup call for LGBT people
Stonewall’s Jeff Ingold writes about the shocking response to Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black’s announcement that they are expecting a baby.
The Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn published a column insisting that gay parenting is “not normal”, including the line “pass the sick bag”.
This week, on Valentine’s Day, Team GB Olympian Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Lance Black shared on social media the exciting news that they’re expecting a baby. What should have been a joyful moment for the couple personally, as well as a positive snapshot of how far LGBT equality has progressed for us nationally, instead triggered a torrent of hateful outbursts online.
It was stunning to see the amount of abuse directed at the recently married couple. Death threats were made and whole threads used the news to question whether same-sex people were morally capable of having a family. If it provoked surprise from many quarters it shouldn’t: homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic abuse is all too common online. One in ten LGBT people have experienced anti-LGBT abuse online directed towards them personally in the last month.
Even more alarming was the national newspaper carrying a headline asserting that we shouldn’t “pretend two dads is the new normal” and making the case that “children benefit most from being raised by a man and woman”. It’s deeply depressing that we’re still even having this conversation. Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation or whether a child has two mums or two dads. The important thing is for a child to have a loving family, no matter who makes it up.
This reaction to Tom and Dustin’s baby news should be a wakeup call to all LGBT people and allies. It shows just how fragile the equality we think we’ve gained can be. We cannot afford to be complacent about the progress we’ve made because it’s not necessarily permanent. We need to be vigilant about our rights and vocal in defence of them – at home and abroad.
We need to come together as allies for each other whenever we see hatred directed at people because of who they are, both within the LGBT community and outside it. Social media and online platforms should make clear that abuse is unacceptable and promote their reporting tools. Everyone should come out and show their support to those who have been targeted, so they know they’re not alone.
We know that most people don’t share the horrible views that have had a national airing because (shock horror) a committed, loving couple are having a baby. We can’t let that hate win. Now more than ever we need to work together, so that everyone’s rights are respected and we can be proud to live in a society that accepts everyone, without exception.
This piece was originally published by Stonewall. Jeff Ingold is Stonewall’s media manager.