I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. Should I describe the pubs I’ve visited? Should I describe the beauty of visiting the Hampton Palaces or the Greenwich boat tour I was on with some of my friends over the weekend? I didn’t think anyone really wanted to hear about my classes, though I will say I’m actually enjoying them at the moment. (In case you’re curious, I’m taking British film and literature in the 1940s and British youth culture in the 1950s). I’ve seen so much of London, yet I’ve barely scratched the surface. So, I really had no idea what I could say that hasn’t been said already.
Then the Orlando shooting happened. It crushed my heart to hear of such violence and pain so far from home, making me feel even more helpless. As part of the LGBTQ community, I feel it’s important to touch on this tragedy. However, this is not a rant of any kind about policy change or even reiteration of the facts, which by now the whole world knows. It’s a story about pain, love, and hope. I identify as bisexual and have since the eighth grade. I cannot describe the struggles I had accepting myself and the years I spent wondering if it was true, and having gone to Catholic school, I found it very hard to discuss with others the feelings I had. I had a teacher say that being gay is similar to eating dirt: you know it’s bad for you, but you keep doing it. I had friends stop hanging out with me, because they thought I would flirt with them. I have family members who consider it “unnatural.” I felt alienated, vulnerable, and betrayed.
However, when I realized that these feelings still persisted I accepted several truths about myself. I am attracted to and can fall in love with both men and women. I cannot say why, but I am. I am not a pedophile. I am not a polygamist. I’m not abnormal. I am loved and accepted by others, and those are the people worth keeping around. I am just an individual still trying to figure out my place in the world and discover more truths about myself. We may all be very different individuals, disagreeing on many different points, but I feel that we can all relate to that sentiment of wanting acceptance and a place of belonging. It warms my heart to see that in the wake of tragedy, there are still people all over the world that will come together out of love and in support of all those affected.
Here in London, a vigil was held in historic Soho that is known for celebrating and accepting the LGBTQ community. It has been the home for individuals searching for themselves and a sense of solidarity for generations. It was where the MOD movement of the 1950s and 60s was started as young teens, artists, immigrants, and other labeled “outcasts” gathered together to enjoy and express themselves. This movement strived to break and blend class and cultural distinctions in a creative, inclusive way during a rapidly changing post World War II era. Today, we face a similar challenge to break the norms that divide us and blend our cultural differences. Today, people from all over the world, including here in London, united in the face of hatred and violence. To quote the Beatles, “Love is all you need.”
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<p>My name is Analise Ober, and I am a junior at University of Puget Sound studying Sociology and English. I am from Minnesota and enjoy hockey, being on the lake, and (of course!) writing. This is my first trip to London, and I hope to experience a lot here and can’t wait to share it with you. </p>