While there's still plenty of injustice to fight in the United States and a long way to go toward social equality for queer folk, let's not forget that we do have it better than some. Many countries still have--and enforce--laws against homosexuality. Being gay is a crime in itself, and one that's often punishable by death.
In addition to criminalizing homosexuality, Malaysia apparently forces repercussions upon those even suspected of being gay. Last week, 66 teenage male students were sent to a government-established camp because they displayed supposedly "feminine" qualities. The camp is meant to prevent these young men from becoming gay or transsexual. I can't even begint to imagine what goes on inside what has been dubbed a "sissy boot camp". Prime Minister Najib Razak has given no indication that this kind of treatment will stop.
Stories like this inspire a great frustration, in addition to sadness, for me. I can become outraged at a distant injustice, but it feels as though there's very little I can do to correct it. Thankfully, All Out, an online LGTBQ+ safe space, has written up a petition that they will deliver at the ASEAN summit to bring the wrongs committed in Malaysia to public light. The more signatures on the petition, the bigger the effect it will have when seen by the leaders of Southeast Asian countries. I only hope that a huge public outcry and worldwide protest is sufficient to inspire change.
It's troubling to think that even supposed "signs" of homosexuality are punishable by the government in certain countries. If you don't uphold a certain standard of masculinity, your human rights are suddenly gone. The more we can show that this sort of treatment is unacceptable, the better a chance we have to alter worldwide conceptions of queerness. When there's nothing else you can do to help, put your name down in solidarity of those across the world who are criminalized on account of their perceived sexuality. There are only a few days left before the petition is closed, so head on over and sign to show your support.