image source: pride 2020, New York Times
You know how people say “you don’t need to agree with someone’s point of view to respect it”? Actually, I think only parents say that; but that fairly deep-rooted saying goes a long way. Members of the LGBTQ+ community wake up to people hating on them every day because of their sexuality. Just because they don’t fall in the traditional gender norms, doesn’t mean they should be easy targets for discrimination.
This isn’t an article asking you to immediately change your opinion nor is it targeted towards anyone specifically. However, one thing is clear: not supporting a community and blatant disrespect are on two sides of the spectrum. Here are a few things to STOP saying, to make a few more people around you feel valid. After all, it’s the least you could do.
1. Stop saying “that’s so gay” as an insult:
This is probably my most heard phrase of all time. So when does calling someone “gay” stop being an insult? Using it as one may not only hurt your queer friends but will make it harder for those closeted to come out. This sentence is typically used after someone does something that fits into the typical stereotype of what a gay person is “supposed” to do. Calling it offensive is an understatement!
2. Make sure to never misgender anyone:
If someone is out and proud, address them how they want to be addressed because for them, their gender is something they fought hard to accept. Misgendering someone makes them feel a little less valid. You don’t need to stand beside them for every battle they fight; all you need to do is show them that you recognise them for who they are. While cis-gender people may see using the right pronouns as a burden, keep in mind that nobody’s gender is evident from the way they look. Most importantly, being straight isn’t the default choice :)
[Side note: Use they/them if you are unsure of someone’s pronouns.]
3. NEVER say “f*ggot” to anybody:
The f-slur is used as a derogatory term against gay boys or men. Men in our society have always been told “don’t cry” or “stop being so girly.” Why? Our stereotypical idea as to what a man should look, act and dress like is what makes it so hard for a man to come out as gay. When a man finally breaks down the invisible barriers that we’ve built up, subjecting him/them to hate is the last thing they need.
4. *specifically for bisexuals when they’re dating the opposite gender* “So you’re basically straight right?”
I mean- no?? The definition of bisexual is someone who is attracted to both genders. So just because their partner is of the opposite gender, doesn’t mean a switch flips in their brain making them straight again. They still experience sexual attraction to both genders, but choose to be with someone that loves them back. Bisexuality is beautiful, to say the least, and people (typically straight) trying to convince bisexuals that they’re straight does nothing but make them feel worse about coming out.
Appreciating someone for who they are without taking a piece of their identity away from them is a basic necessity for every human being to learn. The LGBTQ+ community already goes through a repetitive cycle of self-doubt and external hostility, which cisgender people (allies or not) have the privilege of never experiencing.
Every single day is a chance for you to celebrate the people who have come out, as well as those who are closeted; so “understand that you will never understand, but still stand.”