Religion and The LGBTQIA+ Community

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?

 

Having a Political Identity

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?

 

Intolerance in the LGBTQIA+ Community

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.

Should Non-Binary People Identify as Gay?

It’s come to my attention that some people don’t think those who are non-binary should identify as gay or a lesbian because their gender doesn’t conform to traditional definitions of male and female, but I couldn’t disagree more.

Labels are a very personal thing and I don’t think we should tell one another how to label themselves. If someone who once identified as a lesbian now realizes they’re non-binary and feels like the gay/lesbian label invalidates their experience as someone who is non-binary, then by all means they should use another label. If they have taken comfort in a specific label and want to continue to use it, then they should. LGBTQ+ people have been challenging the ideas and traditional roles of gender since the beginning of time, especially lesbians. I saw something on Tumblr ( aka home of all lesbians) that I really agreed with, but unfortunately can’t find the post.

Essentially the idea was that lesbians have always challenged gender stereotypes and roles, even before there was language to describe the experience of being non-binary. Policing someone else’s identity and telling them what they can and cannot identify as is not okay and goes against Queer history and what many people have fought for. Not to mention it’s transphobic to try and keep non-binary people out of gay/lesbian spaces.

Everyone defines their sexuality differently. Even the “most common” sexualities are defined differently by different people. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you get to police other’s identities within the LGBTQ+ community. You don’t get to decide if they’re gay enough or not. We’ve all had someone question our identities at one point, so why do we do it to one another?

We should be lifting up one another, instead of trying to make sexuality an exclusive club.

 

 

Day of Silence 2017

April 21,  2017 is the Day of Silence hosted by GLSEN.

The Day of Silence is a day when participants take a vow of silence to bring light how homophobia and transphobia, as well as harassment and bullying in schools silences LGBTQIA+ students.

9 out of 10 LGBTQIA+ students have dealt with some level of harassment/bullying because of their sexuality/gender. The Day of Silence is in place to try and combat that problem and put rules in place to take action against the bullying and harassment. Many schools do not have anti-discrimination rules in place to protect their LGBTQIA+ students and so students who participate in this day are encouraged to challenge their schools to change that.

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While I have never personally faced direct discrimination or bullying due to my sexuality so many students have to deal with this on a daily basis. LGBT youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide, and the rate of drug abuse is an estimated 20-30% higher for the LGBT population. A huge contributor to that is homophobia, transphobia, and harassment/bullying.

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Show your support for the LGBTQIA+ community today by taking a vow of silence!

Sometimes silence speaks volumes,

Alyssa

When We Rise

When We Rise is a four part mini-series documenting the journey of LGBTQIA+ activists Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Ken Jones, and Cecilia Chung who were leaders in the civil right’s movement which later turned into the Gay right’s movement.

As someone who is a part of then LGBTQ+ community and is too young to have been alive during the time of many of these historical events I believe it’s very important to educate myself on Queer History and culture. We don’t learn these things in school and they definitely aren’t in our textbooks. Even the biggest events like the Stonewall Riots were never spoken of in any classroom I’ve been in. Our textbooks are white-washed and filled with the the accounts of straight white men, so it’s up to us as individuals to learn about the history that the rest of society actively tries to erase.

When We Rise covers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the AIDS epidemic, police relations with the queers community, and marriage equality. While none of this was news to me, it was quite heart wrenching to see it played out. I think ABC did a good job showing just how brutal the world was to the LGBTQ+ community during the 1970’s. One critique I have of the series is it is mainly based in New York and San Francisco, which is where the movement took place so it makes sense, but this doesn’t show how much more danger people were in when living in different areas in America.

I thought one thing they did really well was covering the AIDS epidemic. It was incredibly informative and if you had never been told about the governments response ( well lack there of ) then this would be very eye opening. They showed the resilience of the community and how they banned together during this difficult time. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer men and a lot of people don’t realize that.

I would have liked to see LGBTQ+ people play these roles and I’m not sure why the casting directors chose not to cast queer people for the majority of the roles. I looked up pictures of many of the real people in this series to see if they chose actors who looked like them, but that really wasn’t the case. They were great actors and did a good job, but I think queer people should play queer roles in films and on TV.

Overall despite a few things I would change, this was an amazing series and couldn’t have come at a better time. It was raw and didn’t hold back or sugar coat any situation. When We Rise showed the revolution and resilience of the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think everyone, gay or straight, should watch this mini-series and learn about this piece of history that we often don’t shed a light on. We are still living the “LGBT civil rights movement” with things like the bathroom bill in North Carolina being passed, revoking the protection of trans kids in public schools, and the laws in Texas that are being considered right now.

Did you watch When We Rise? What did you think?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Why do we have to fight this stuff?

The laws Obama put in place to protect transgender kids were abolished yesterday.

It makes me so sad that we have to fight for trans people to use the restroom the corresponds with their gender. These laws were made to protect trans students, and the White House sent a very clear message that they are okay with putting these students lives in danger, because they don’t support trans rights. This is beyond ridiculous.

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These are the same people who make fun of safe spaces, and this is exactly why we need safe spaces! Kids shouldn’t be forced to use the wrong bathroom at school or to go by the wrong pronouns. They shouldn’t be afraid to change in the locker room or scared they might get attacked by a classmate. Abolishing these laws tells bullies what they’re doing is acceptable. 41% of transgender people will attempt to commit suicide in their lifetime; bullying and intolerance play a huge role in that statistic. Those statistics are even higher for ethnic minorities, those in poverty, and people who don’t finish high school.

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These kids need protection and love when going through the already difficult experience of middle school and high school. Why are we letting our government out an even bigger target on their back? When I was still going to high school there was a guy I knew who was trans and had gone to elementary school with me. I only knew he was trans because the news spread like wildfire. Everything from supportive comments to transphobic slurs filled the halls. For reference I went to a HUGE school, so it seemed weird that anyone cared, but this is Texas after all. Luckily my school let him use the boys locker room and bathroom, but people weren’t always very nice and he had to deal with the gossip and being misgendered daily.

I don’t have any great advice or solution to the issue, besides telling transphobic people to get their heads out of their asses, but I don’t think that’ll help. Continuing to support organizations that fight for LGBTQ+ rights like the Trevor Project, GLSEN, Trans Lifeline, and The Human Right’s Campaign is important. If you have someone who is transgender in your life let them know how much you love and support them. If you are trans know this cis gay girl may not be able to understand your struggles, but she loves you and supports you 100%!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa