“By the way my coworker’s best friend’s sister is gay.”
“… oh, um that’s cool.”
This is a conversation that takes place constantly. If someone knows I’m gay, they always love to tell me when they meet other queer people; as if we’re unicorns. Don’t get me wrong, there are nothing but good intentions behind it, it’s just a little weird. Would you tell me if you met another woman, or some else who had blue eyes? Probably not.
This is different from the typical, “oh you’re gay, do you know my friend Sam, he’s gay too?” situation. People don’t think you know them, they just want to let you know they know other queer people. My older sister is the main culprit of this in my life. She lives in a major city, so of course she knows/is friends with/ runs into a lot of queer people, and she lets me know. Every. Single. Time. Maybe I’m a huge jerk for not caring, but honestly it’s just not that interesting to me. I consume a lot of queer media, so I constantly see other LGBTQIA+ people. Plus, I’m in college, so I see a decent amount of visibly queer people in my day to day life.
Being able to see visibly queer people is so so important, and I do get excited when I see other people people just living their normal lives. I feel a sense of familiarity and kinship with other people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Someone telling me about how their barista is gay though, isn’t really something I care to know. What is the correct response to “Oh! I was meaning to tell you my waiter the other day is gay.” ? Do you want me to jump up and down and beg you for more details? I usually go with, “that’s cool” or “oh wow” which both come out sounding incredibly unenthusiastic, no matter how much I try and pretend to care.
I never confront anyone about this, because I know they are just trying to be nice. It in no way makes me mad, or even annoyed, I just find it incredibly odd and kinda funny. Does this happen to you? If so, how do you respond? I feel like this definitely isn’t just something I deal with!
There’s nothing more disappointing to me than enjoying a queer character in a show, looking up the actor, and finding out they aren’t a part of the LGBTQIA+ community at all. It’s not like there’s a shortage of talented queer actors; Hollywood just doesn’t cast them. With over 10% of the population being LGBTQIA+ in some capacity, there’s definitely a plethora of talented queer actors, probably even some that identify the same way as their character does.
Representation is incredibly important for every minority group. While there’s been more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media in 2017 than ever before, we still have a lot of progress that needs to be made. It would be ridiculous and wrong for someone to play a black character if they weren’t black, so why do we treat sexuality and gender that way? Sure, some non-queer actors do a pretty damn good job playing queer characters, but they just don’t have the experience. They don’t know the struggle, and it really shows when they do interviews about their show/movie. As much as I think we really need to support queer media as a whole, I would rather support queer artists making LGBTQIA+ content.
As a young queer person, I often find myself finding other LGBTQIA+ identifying people, mainly queer women, to look up to. I really needed solid representation when I was figuring everything out, and straight women playing lesbians on TV just wasn’t what I wanted or needed. I also have a problem with the specific type of cis-straight-heteroromantic people that are casted. They are almost always white, able-bodied, and financially privileged. The real LGBTQIA+ community is diverse in every sense of the word. Hot white gays are not the majority, and their stories are not the most important ones to be told. Queer people of color, and disabled queer people’s stories and accomplishments are constantly being erased.
The history behind the character is important. People who are figuring out their gender and/or sexuality need to see queer people living “normal” lives. Straight-Cis-Heteroromantic actors just can’t possibly convey that, or be that representation off the show. Recently, Stephanie Beatriz’s Character Rosa, on the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, came out as bisexual. The only thing that’s cooler than Hollywood actually letting someone say the word “bisexual” on TV, is that Stephanie is bisexual. She is a perfect example of good queer representation. I wish we saw this more often.
Do you think non-queer people should play queer characters? Who are some of your favorite LGBTQIA+ actors?
I would like to say I was surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find the tweets about banning trans people from the military, but honestly nothing he does shocks me anymore.
This however did seem out of the blue to me. No conversation, only a declaration. While technically nothing is set in stone or law yet, even stating these kinds of hatful things is harmful. This is the slow way to eventually ban trans people from existing. If they can’t go to the bathroom and can’t in the military, where can trans people exist then?
I wouldn’t say that I personally support the military in all of its endeavors, but being pro-military or not isn’t what this is about. Your gender shouldn’t determine what you can and can’t do or what you can and can’t be in life. If your willing to put your life on the line, you should be welcomed with open arms and allowed to live an authentic life.
Trump claims trans people are a “burden” due to their medical costs. The US military has quite the track record of not taking care of their veterans, or active duty member for that matter when it comes to health care of any kind. Not to mention not all trans people medically transition, and you shouldn’t assume they will or want to.
There are also over 15,000 trans people currently serving in our military. What’s going to happen to them? He acts like he’s stopping trans people from joining the armed forces, but no trans people are already serving. You cannot end sometimes career because of their gender identity. Are you going to discharge them like they did back when “don’t ask don’t tell” was a law? We’re going backwards on the progress we’ve made.
I believe this is just the beginning of an attack on the LGBTQIA+ community. He’s gone after trans people multiple times now, and it isn’t going to stop unless there is enough backlash. Even then it may not end. Gaby Dunn made a video about this, and she believes that Trump is going after trans people first, because they don’t always get the support that other members of the LGBTQIA+ members receive. I completely agree, and since that’s probably true everyone in the community, and everyone who is a decent human being, should show up and support trans people.
The LGBTQIA+ community is resilient and we will not let him get away with this.
In the past five years or so “Queer” has become an increasing popular label for many people to describe their gender and/or sexuality. However not that long ago it was widely used as slur to harm the community. Is it okay to “reclaim” slurs?
I’m coming from the stand point of someone who has never been called a slur. Sure I’ve heard them many times, in both positive and negative ways, but no one was referring to me. Queer is a word I sometimes use to describe myself and the community. When writing “Queer community” I often wonder if that phrase is offensive to some people in the community. To be honest I use it mostly because saying LGBTQIA+ community over and over is long, and begins to feel repetitive. I would never mean for it to make someone feel uncomfortable or bring back bad memories for them.
For many people like me, we’ve never heard “queer” used in a negative connotation so it doesn’t seem like a negative thing. Recently I was watching Ash Hardell’s video about this topic and they had some really great things to say. Ash talked about how “Queer” is not commonly used as a slur anymore, and they felt that in order to reclaim a slur is shouldn’t be commonly used. Maybe it’s just the area I live in but I’ve never heard someone say “queer” as a slur. They also brought up the point that “Queer” originally meant “peculiar or odd” and didn’t have a violent background like some of the other slurs.
There are other slurs like the f word, or the d word, or the t word that haven’t been completely reclaimed. A handful of of people will use the word to describe themselves in order to try and take back the power from the bullies and hateful people who have used it towards them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing this, but using the word to describe a whole group of people can be problematic. Some people who have been deeply hurt by a certain word do not want to be called that in way, shape, or form. Labels are all about personal preference, and some words shouldn’t be used to describe a group of people as a whole.
How to you feel about reclaiming slurs?
Do you use any reclaimed slurs to describe yourself?
Religion is quite a touchy topic in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Many people have experienced homophobia, transphobia, and general bigotry in the name of religion. These acts of hate often drive queer people away from religion and spirituality in general. However there are also a lot of people, me included, who actively practice a religion and are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
In my shoes, being gay and a Christian, I find it hard to find other people like me. You get push back from conservative Christians, and I get push back from people in the LGBTQ+ community who have had bad experiences with church. I wish the queer community was more positive and open about some members being religious. I also think if more LGBTQ+ had experiences at welcoming and affirming churches, they would think differently about Christianity.
There are a lot of people who have been deeply scarred by religious parents or leader, and I would never want to belittle them or act like abuse and bigotry don’t happen in the church. However, I would like to see more conversations taking place about the intersection of faith and gender/sexuality. Lots of people are very cynical about the idea of religion, and like to push their negative feelings onto those who are religious. If you aren’t religious or spiritual or whatever, that’s completely fine and your prerogative. It isn’t your place though to tell others how they should live, or what they should believe. Religious people are always told not to push their religion onto others (and they shouldn’t), so don’t push your lack of beliefs onto me.
There are LGBTQIA+ people of every religion. I hope to see more positivity for queer Christians, Jewish people, Hindu people, muslims, buddhists, and queer people of any other religions, in the near future.
Are you religious?
Were you raised in a certain religion?
Once you come out as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, society labels your sexuality as “political.”
Part of this is because sexuality and gender have always been seen as a political issues. Getting married, having children, going to the bathroom, and even just existing in public are political fights we’ve had over and over, and continue to have. We’ve been labeled “other” and our rights are not a given like our heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Our rights are debated on stages and we’re often thought of as an issue on a ballot rather than human beings by homophobic and transphobic law makers.
Not long after coming out I remember having an a-ha moment. “People hate me because of my sexuality and I am now considered a minority.” In my privileged white-suburban-Christian-girl world, this took my brain for a tale-spin. I had never been hated for just existing before, and it didn’t feel good. The other thing that set in, especially after the 2016 election, was that my right’s could be taken away at any time no matter how unconstitutional or morally wrong that is.
Due to these reasons and a million more, I embrace society viewing my sexuality as political. I believe being an out LGBTQIA+ person is a form of resistance. While being LGBTQIA+ isn’t a choice, being out is (Most of the time.) I feel pride in actively resisting our cultures standards and beliefs by simply existing. Personally I live in a largely republican area in Texas, so I feel an even greater urge to exist as my queer self. I needed to see other people who were LGBTQIA+ just living life when I was younger, and now I want to be that for someone else. It truly humanizes the experience to see other queer people in public enjoying life and being care-free.
I no longer have the privilege of not being actively engaged in politics. Between being gay, being a woman, and being disabled, someones always trying to take away my rights. So I will continue to embrace my “political identity” and practice acts of queer resistance.
How do you practice queer resistance?
What do you think about having your identity politicized?
In a perfect world the LGBTQ+ community would be all sunshine and rainbows and acceptance, but sometimes it isn’t.
There’s a big problem with racism within the community, specifically with gay men. Having “no asians” or “no black people” on their Grindr profiles. When confronted most of them say, “well it’s just a preference.” A preference is liking strawberry jelly over grape jelly or liking tennis shoes over sandals, not segregating an entire race and labeling them as “undateable.”
Biphobia and transphobia are also another problem, mainly amongst cis-white-gays. They believe that people use the label bisexual as a stepping stone to being gay and just haven’t accepted that they’re gay yet. Transphobic queer people sometimes use the term “LGB” instead of LGBT, in order to excluded trans people from the community.
My main question for people in the community who behave like this is, why? Why discriminate against someone who belongs to the same minority group as you? We’re all going to face our fair share of bigotry from the outside world so why be bigoted to one another? We should be supporting and uplifting one another, not tearing each other down. If you don’t like someone else erasing your identity, then don’t do it someone else. You aren’t them, you don’t know how they feel. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
The worst thing we can do as a community is not support one another. How can you expect love and support from people outside the LGBTQ+ community, if you don’t love and support others in the community yourself? I think we all have a responsibility to call out this behavior and set an example for others by treating one another with tolerance and respect.