Within the LGBT community, ideas matter. The LGBT community is the most diverse cultural grouping in the world, consisting of every religious, ethnic, and gender identity. In other words, LGBT people exist in every part of the world and depending on their lived experience, are unique.
You don’t have to go very far in the LGBT community to walk through a minefield of words and labels. The word Queer has divergent opinions, sometimes seen as being politically correct, only to be challenged by someone as being right, wrong, good or bad. It isn’t unusual for gay elders to view the word queer as offensive, while many youth have embraced it. It is often difficult to build common understanding when our community at times uses words and labels as badges of honor or shields to shame.
There appears to be an invisible hierarchy of marginalization within the LGBT community, based on gender, ethnicity, religion and class. We would benefit by working together to address the root cause issues and challenges together, rather than working against each other.
For example, hosting a conference for the LGBT+ community can be difficult because words hold so much weight that is difficult to navigate the political correctness, yet there are so many conversations that could bring amazing ideas together. The era of AIDS brought the LGBT community together, caring for each other, and it was the first time where the men and women’s community came together. We have done this before.
Conversations with each other are a great starting place when we don’t understand the other person’s perspective. Whether it’s the use of pronouns to describe gender, the correct terminology for who is gay, whether the sequence of our acronyms are LGBT + or GLBT+, this list is endless.
Here is the paradox; words are socially constructed based on each humans lived experience and they are all equally valuable. However, our individual stories are what build our common understandings of each other, not words or labels. Next time you read something that provokes you, try having a conversation about it, and you may be pleasantly surprised how much you have in common.
Lets build on the stories and focus on the things that we have in common, like freedom to love, marriage, protest, adopt children, have access to LGBT+ sensitive health care, seniors care and the list goes on. Lets listen to each other and in turn will elevate us all up.
“You are not listening, unless you are willing to change your mind” ~ Guy Nasmyth