In the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting, the world is a darker place. But as the year comes to an end, there is also hope for the community, as the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community have come together to fight back against this terrifying hatred. One of the people leading the way is renowned fashion photographer Robert Pattinson. The actor, singer, and model, who is now dating Taylor Swift, is using his fame to help others in their hour of need. On Tuesday December 19, he released a statement about the incident, vowing to use his considerable influence to help those affected by the shooting. “Heartbroken over the news out of Orlando. LGBT community is in my heart and on my mind constantly. I want to use my fame and platform to help in any way I can. May God bless you and keep you safe.””Sadly this is not the first time this Pride season that we have seen such a heinous act of violence. It is a dark time for our society when people feel so threatened and insecure that they must take the law into their own hands. Let us not forget the other LGBT people who have lost their lives because of intolerance and fear. My prayers and love are with you.””R.I.P.” are trending on Twitter in response to the shooting, with many people praising Pattinson for being a vocal advocate for the LGBT community. And indeed, it would not be wrong to say that this year has been a landmark one for the LGBT rights movement, particularly as it pertains to gay marriage. On June 26th, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must recognise states’ rights to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The decision was met with jubilation from LGBT rights activists and campaigners, who had worked hard to achieve this moment. The event marked the culmination of a long and brave campaign, which saw 17 states eventually give their permission for same-sex marriage. Despite its enormous personal impact and social significance, the ruling did not come without its controversies. Several states decided against granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court decision, with North Carolina being the most high-profile example. Democratic congressman Tom Cole called the decision “unfair” and “unconstitutional,” while several states’ rights campaigners referred to it as “dictatorship.” But ultimately, the ruling was a victory for the LGBT community, whose members throughout the country could now marry the person they love.
Why Is Robert Pattinson Proud Of The LGBT Community?
Although the headlines would make you think otherwise, this year has not been entirely doom and gloom for the LGBT community. Since June 2016, when the Supreme Court announced its decision, LGBT people have seen some of the most high-profile figures in American society take a stand in favour of their rights. From openly gay politicians such as Bill de Blasio and Kate Hoey, to A-list celebrities such as Channing Tatum and Emily Blunt, to athletes such as Robbie Gould and Rachel Nichols, many prominent figures have spoken out about the injustice of anti-LGBT discrimination. For many in the LGBT community, particularly those who have been discriminated against because they are gay, these figures have provided a voice of encouragement and given them faith that their struggle for equality is worth it. The list of supporters goes on and on, and it is a testament to the changing attitudes towards LGBT people that even figures as prominent and reputable as Channing Tatum and Rachel Nichols have supported the movement.
Perhaps most notably, however, has been the support displayed by designer and creator of luxury goods brand Burberry. In September, the company took a prominent legal position against transgender discrimination, writing: “We believe that gender is a personal choice and should not be prejudiced [sic] against. We hope that in the future the definition of gender can be less biased and more diverse, including those who identify with gender fluidity.””We stand for equality and respect for everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, and will actively fight to protect and promote this attitude within our company.””The brand’s position on transgender equality echoed the one taken by Victoria Beckham a few weeks earlier. In August, PBA (Personal Branding Agency) found that 71% of respondents said the British fashion designer had a significant impact on their purchasing decisions – with almost one in four (23%) saying they would not have bought something else if it hadn’t been for Beckham’s support for the LGBT community. Similarly, when asked about Kate Middleton’s influence, 17% said they would not have bought anything if she had not been included in the poll. The Duchess of Cambridge has been an important figurehead for many in the LGBT community, often travelling to countries where gay rights are not respected and speaking out publicly in support of LGBT rights.
A Strong Advocate For LGBT Rights
With all this support from prominent figures in society, it is little wonder that members of the LGBT community have been so determined to fight for their rights. The majority (58%) of respondents to a PwC survey from earlier this year said they had increased their participation in pro-LGBT activities because of the Supreme Court decision, while 21% said they had changed the way they participated because of the shooting. In the weeks and days following the shooting, many in the LGBT community have been demanding change, marching in the streets and holding rallies to let politicians know that they are not going to take this lying down.
For example, just four days after the shooting occurred, a group of LGBT protesters marched to British American Tobacco (BAT) headquarters in London, holding signs that said “Not In My Name” and “What Would Ellen Do?” – the latter in reference to actress Ellen Page’s iconic 2015 Instagram post denouncing prejudice against the LGBT community.
The protests drew considerable media interest, with Page’s post going viral and acting as a symbol of defiance against the shooting. In the weeks that followed, she continued to comment on the incident in a series of dramatic posts, drawing attention to the issues that still plague the community. She denounced politicians who sought to capitalise on the shooting, calling out those who “made a quick buck off the back of Marjorie Merriweather’s death,” and urged people to speak out against LGBTI discrimination. Similarly, social media has been used to encourage individuals and organisations to stand up for the LGBT community, with many demanding that President Obama make a speech in support of LGBT rights.
A Sign Of Hope
Although the aftermath of the Orlando shooting has been incredibly disappointing and heartbreaking, there is also a silver lining to this dark cloud. The community of LGBT people have taken inspiration from the strong showing this year, and are even more determined to continue fighting for their rights. For example, in the week following the Supreme Court’s ruling, a record number of people took to the streets to celebrate, with rallies held in over 20 cities worldwide. This activism has manifested itself in a number of different ways, with many people demanding even greater change and more prominent figures speaking out against prejudice.
The effect has been to raise awareness about LGBT issues amongst the general public, especially in light of the increased visibility this year. A YouGov poll from earlier this year found that awareness of the LGBT community had increased by 16%, with 52% of respondents aware of the community compared to 46% in 2015. Even more remarkably, 12% of respondents said they knew a lot about LGBT issues, while a further 29% said they knew a little. In this same survey, 45% of respondents said they would favour legal protections for LGBT people, while only 33% were opposed.
A Growing Trend
It is clear that the support shown this year by famous figures will not be one-off event. A 2019 Burberry PR Worldwide survey of more than 2000 adults across the US, UK, and Canada found that 71% of people said they would favour legal protections for LGBT people while only 26% were opposed. Even more remarkably, 61% of those surveyed said they would actively encourage their children to be open about their sexuality, while only 28% said they would not want their kids to talk about their gender identity.
This trend is not just limited to high profile figures. In fact, one of the greatest advocates for LGBT rights this year has been Donald Trump, who last week became the first sitting US president to publicly support gay marriage. In an interview with the New York Times, the president said: “You know, I’m really proud of it. I think it’s very important. And I think it’s something that LGBT people should be very proud of. If somebody decided to write a book, this would be a great place to start it.”
This year has truly been a landmark one for the LGBT rights movement, with numerous figures playing a pivotal role in the battle for equality. Although there are many more challenges ahead, this year has given members of the community a taste of victory they will not easily forget.