Our world and community are becoming more diverse and as a result, we have seen an increase in events, societies, and venues aimed exclusively at specific minorities. These take the forms of events such as Pride, publications addressed to particular races, religious societies, and gay clubs. Though these represent a solace for people who often feel excluded from mainstream society, if we’re aiming for a truly united world, are more divisions truly the way to achieve this?
People love to claim that ‘they don’t see race’ or that ‘sexuality doesn’t matter to them’, but in reality, the social groups that we are a part of shape our identities and experiences. Groups of people who have shared heritages or sexualities have a cultural language; queer people don’t have to dissect their sexual preferences to other queer people, and people from the same country do not have to explain their traditions or the ‘strange’ foods they eat to one another. There is an element of explanation and translation that is simply not required. The celebration of these minority experiences enables ostracised individuals to enter into alternative worlds where they are, for once, not the odd ones out. When people look down on this, and want to prevent people bonding over their sexuality or race they are, once again, trying to censor the parts of ourselves that have always been seen as controversial. They are trying to ensure that mainstream identities remain the norm, and that ‘others’ remain on the outskirts of society, rather than in the centre of their own communities from which the majority is excluded.
Furthermore, this kind of division is not an act of prejudice but rather the result of prejudice. People may associate Pride with rainbow flags, PDA and getting drunk, but the first Pride was a riot resulting from a police raid on a gay bar. The boldness and joy of this kind of public event is an act of defiance against a strong history of violence and discrimination. The existence of societies, places, and events devoted to particular groups is not a symbol of division but rather a representation of how such people are finally able to fully integrate themselves into a society which would previously have shunned, or simply ignored, them. If people aren’t allowed to celebrate the people they love, the traditions they practice and the places they come from, then we are failing to actually make space for their full identities within our society.
A world in which we are divided by race, sexuality or religion is, undeniably, a negative one. Yet a world in which we are allowed to embrace our unique traits which have been viewed as controversial for so long is only a good thing. As long as we keep bonding with people over the universal things that make us human, then bonding over more individual experiences can only foster more acceptance in our society. We are all different, and a truly tolerant world is one wherein we allow people to revel in this rather than hiding from it.