Code Switching

You wake up tomorrow morning and make your way to the shower, as usual. You stand there as the hot water cascades over you melting away sleep and you begin to compose yourself for the day ahead. You start thinking about how you are going to interact with various people throughout the day and you start planning what words you will use with each person, carefully dodging specific words that may talk about your life outside of work. As you towel off, you start thinking about how you are going to dress. What shirt, pants and accessories you are going to wear, careful on the image they present to anyone who make take in your appearance. As you start to move through your day, you are overly cautious about your handshakes and meeting people’s eyes making sure you do not linger too long. After all, you don’t want them assuming something or passing a judgement on you. You may have a doctor’s appointment and even there you actively prepare what you are going to tell them, making sure you don’t say certain words about your personal life, so as not to be judged. At work you consciously alter your vocal patterns or how you stand so people don’t make an assumption or react negatively to you. Every thought, every action, and every reaction scrutinized to make sure you fit in. Unfortunately, this is something that many LGBTQ people face daily.

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Sure, there have been positive changes over the years. We have made strides in LGBTQ equality, but sadly the trickle down effect to small towns or small communities aren’t felt. Many of us are gripped with fears in many days to day things that most people take for granted. We have pockets of sanctuary where we can be ourselves, without recourse. One of the biggest fears many of us have is holding hands with our partner in public. That simple act of affection has been enough, in recent news, to get couples beaten almost to death. In May of this year, a couple in Denver was stabbed for holding hands. They were taunted with homophobic slurs and attacked within blocks of their house, simply for holding one another’s hand. The man who attacked him was arrested but the police were investigating the charges. January 1st of this year, four men attacked and beat a gay male couple for holding hands. The four men have not been arrested or charged.

Transgender people constantly deal with the fear of using public restrooms. The backlash of a simple choice can have far reaching implications. The general public feels that they will be some type of sexual predator. There has been no reported case of any cisgender person being attacked by a transgender person. Also, there have been no reports of cisgender men pretending or dressing as the opposite gender to prey on anyone. Unfortunately, many cisgender people have the belief that transgender people are pretending to be what they are to prey on someone. January 10, 2019 two cisgender women were arrested and charged with sexual assault of a transgender woman in a bar in Raleigh, NC. The transgender woman had entered the restroom to check her hair and makeup when the two women began taunting her. They asked her questions like “do you have a penis?” One of the women lifted her shirt and asked her if she wanted to see her boobs. All three had exited the bathroom but one of the cisgender women continued touching and groping her stomach and buttocks. A bartender noticed the situation and asked her to stop, but the woman continued to harass the transgender woman.

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Being LGBTQ

Many don’t also realize that coming out doesn’t end with LGBTQ people. It is a constant thing that has to be addressed and that causes intense social anxiety. You worry about how someone will react to you and what will the long-term effects be. You may come out at work but as staff changes you have to think about coming out again. More work places are being more inclusive but if it is not communicated effectively, it can create stress. Companies cannot force an employee to have a mindset and while they may not openly oppose you for being LGBTQ, they may make small outward remarks that can create a negative environment. But there is the opposite side of that coin. Working so closely with people many start to feel a comfort level that gives them some ability to think they can ask you intimate questions that they would not necessarily ask their own counterparts.

One of the questions I have been asked more times than I can count, when I was in a relationship, is who plays the role of the woman? First, it seems that it is beyond the concept of heteronormative people to understand that as a gay male I don’t have to fall into the trappings of what they would consider a “normal relationship.” LGB couples do not have to be a “male” or “female” gender role, we can be and are fluid in how we express our love. Or the ever popular, “doesn’t anal sex hurt?” And it never fails that it is usually a woman who asks me that question. My response if usually asking them if their first time hurt? It is odd how people often think we are some alien creature that does not experience the same feelings and emotions they do.  

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It is as if because we are LGBTQ, we do not fit some mold that is predetermined by Caucasian heteronormative society. And because of that we are here to be on display like a rare animal at a zoo exhibit. Allowed to be inspected, poked, and prodded for the amusement and benefit of those observing us. Questions like “how do two women have sex?” or “Will you be my gay best friend, I need someone to help me shop?” First, Ireally don’t think asking someone about their sexual proclivities is appropriate, unless you are very close to that person. Secondly, if you aren’t paying me to be your fashion consultant, I doubt that I will want to stand around countless shops helping pick out an outfit that you are hoping I will tell you is FABULOUS on you. More likely, I will give you an honest opinion about it and you will not like it.

I am not trying to say that LGBTQ people suffer more than any other minority. Hell, LGBTQ people of all colors also have to deal with the imperialist attitude of the heteronormative Caucasian culture. Yes, it can be easier for many of us to slide by because the dominant culture tends to make sweeping generalizations based on their perceptions but make no mistake once they detect that there is a difference from who they are it is like blood in the water. Black men have said they notice when they walk down a parking lot that Caucasian women will clutch their purse in fear. I have watched Caucasian women pull their children close when they see me and notice the rainbow flag I may be wearing or inclination in my vocal patterns as if Iam some predator waiting to swoop in on their children. I have been called a fucking cocksucker and even had heteronormative men tell me to my face they are okay with me being gay as long as I don’t hit on them.

So, we may present an air of confidence to the world and that we are untouched by the stigmas that surround the larger percentage, but the truth is there are many small interactions with people that still cause immense about of fear or tension on a daily basis. Many people, even among our own community, take that for granted. We often beat ourselves up for feeling these feelings. We shouldn’t have to feel them, but it doesn’t change who we are. There is a quote from RuPaul’s book GuRu that says, “Folks are going to talk shit about you anyway, so you might as well go ahead and do your own thing.” I think it fits here as well. We can’t bog ourselves down but the judgement, we must move forward and be our best selves because we cannot change everyone’s mind. Be authentic to yourself and many people will see that and force their own change of mindset.

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We Have To Stand

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Normally I plan out most of my posts. I trying to find a topic that interests me and hopefully interests others, do some research, pull some sources, and write a post. Or I will scroll through some Ted Talks for moments of inspirations. After all, the reason that I write is to help others remember out history and hopefully make a few others think and lead to action.  However, after the news yesterday of almost 14,000 of our transgender brothers and sisters losing their jobs thanks to this inane transgender ban bill, I just don’t seem to have it in me to post one of the posts I had written before.

The very roots of a military organization dates back to the beginning of mankind, in reality. We have always banded together to protect our homes and people. IT started as a common good to ensure our survival. We have seen it move through history to become mandatory at times and some cultures that had an elite group of men and women to protect the powers that be. Most people considered it an honor to serve and protect their country and that even carried over to America. The military forces we made here were by the very people who sweated and bled to make sure their homes survived. Native Americans considered their warriors with honor and became a bigger honor to serve as a warrior and not kill an enemy, instead they counted coup.

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We have witnessed many changes to our military, over the course of this Country’s life. We have seen the Draft implemented, witnessed troops who served for the greater good be spit upon and shamed, watched women be able to serve openly beside their male counterparts and even the allowing of 18 years old people to sign up to serve. These weren’t always met with quick acceptance. It took until 1976 for women to be accepted into military academy and it wasn’t until 2013 that women were allowed at West Point. I remember the news in the 80s and early 90s about how the largely male military viewed women serving in combat. The debates about how they were too emotional to be able to make effective decisions. Not strong enough to have the backs of the rest of their squad, company, or platoons. But time after time, women proved they were as strong and stronger than the men they served with and while the resistance to them serving hasn’t went away, it is more accepted now than before.

LGBT people have had a similar struggle in serving. Almost twenty-five years ago, February 2, 1994 DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) was started. It was implemented and sold as a means for LGB people to serve without repercussions, but in actuality it gave a means to persecution. The military prides itself on rules and regulations, predetermined means of what something is or isn’t. Unfortunately, what is or is not a “homosexual act” is always up for interpretations and the military had final say so on it. Many men and women were dishonorably discharged from service over being homosexual. DADT lasted almost twenty years, September 20, 2011, before it was repealed. Finally, we were able to serve openly and with less fears or recrimination, in theory.\

During the time of DADT, we heard similar arguments to what women were faced with during their early battles. We aren’t emotionally able to serve, who wants to serve with a “faggot” who is staring at my backside instead of protecting my back, and worse. These fears haven’t really been alleviated, only pushed to the back. Not transgendered people are going through the same struggles. Our own Commander in Chief thinks they are not mentally stable enough to serve in our military. However, mental capacity is not viewed of heteronormative soldiers when they join. Ok sure, you take tests before you are allowed to join. I remember them, hell I tried to join the military when I was younger as a means of hoping I could cure the urges I had for men. The military puts more focus on physical abilities than mental. I guess that is completely okay since they are heterosexual men and women.

Wednesday I posted a link about the transgender ban and how the DOD did an independent research with the group RAND s a cost benefit analysis of transgender men and women serving in the military. No discernible cost difference was seen if the military took on the costs of helping a soldier go through transition surgery. No detectable strain would be put on the military for having them serve alongside of other soldiers, as long as they are doing their duties. No more could be asked of any soldier. Hell, they have been doing it for years already and suffering right along with serving.

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Our military doesn’t have the numbers it used to have and turning away competent and volunteering people who want to serve and protect their country is stupidity. All they ask in return is to be able to serve as who they truly are, a request that is no different than their heteronormative counterparts. Somehow our current government sees them as a threat, a threat in civilian life and in military life. The weird part is we cower away from that, instead we should remember that the government SHOULD fear its people. We have forgotten that we are part of the check and balances system. Too many of us live in the fear of the majority. Fear of the government, fear of their mindless followers/supporters. We watch violence played out against us daily, all minorities. If we want advancement and inclusion, we need to stop asking for scraps and fight for our place at the table.

We have got to stop watching from the sidelines. We have to move against those that would subdue us. We HAVE to come together as one body and voice. Division in our ranks isn’t helping us, we see what its doing but we just don’t seem to process it. Look around you and what is going on and make your voice heard. You are mistaken if you think the larger percentage views us as equal. Just because we have a larger presence on television and, for now, the right to marry doesn’t make us equal with the heteronormative society. We are still a part of their sideshow. Advocates or not, they will not make the change easily. We have to be there on the front lines. We have to get back to our roots of activism. To paraphrase a comic book, “We have to stand.”

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Softly Echoes The Sounds Of Goose Stepping

“We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them.”

This quote from George Orwell’s 1984 is almost a good example of where we are living, at this moment. The very process of ensuring that someone cannot oppose you is making sure that they think the same way as you. If they are as you, in mind, body, and thought, then they cannot be your enemy. It has been passed into law that on January 22, 2019 that the government can now ban transgender men and women from serving in the military. This bill goes into detail saying that if you are diagnosed with gender dysphoria you will not be allowed to serve with limited exceptions. Individuals who are not diagnosed with this condition may serve, as long as they do so by the sex assigned to them at birth. It is a way of saying that the only sexual identity that matters is the one assigned to you at birth.

Before we jump into this, lets level the playing field and define some terms so that all of us are on level playing fields. Gender dysphoria, in simplified terms, is the conflict of one’s gender they were assigned with and the one they internally identify with. Gender nonconformity is defined as the degree to which an individual’s appearance, behavior, interests, and subjective self-concept deviate from the conventions of masculine and femininity norms. Gender dysphoria is treated with surgery reassignment, in most cases. Whereas in gender nonconformity can be modes of dress and mannerisms, such as men wearing makeup and style utilizing a masculine mode of dress.

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The Pentagon and the Supreme Court are using similar arguments that the military is charged with keeping the most effective and lethal fighting force and that somehow allowing transgender to serve will hinder that directive. However, an eighteen-year-old is perfectly fine with being an effective lethal fighting force. I was under the impression that the military was charged with ensuring the training each recruit received was supposed to turn them into an effective and lethal fighting force. It would be understood that the training in question would be able to teach anyone these same skills. Though, it wasn’t that long ago that a similar argument was used about women in the military.

Trump was quoted, in a CNN Politics article titled SCOTUS transgender Ban , “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” VHA benefits do not cover the cost of any reassignment surgery and any VA facility is specifically banned from performing the surgery. This alone would limit the ability, in most cases, for the surgery to take place during active duty. Leaving those with gender dysphoria to be able to serve openly as their gender identity. How does this take away from any training they undergo? In an article from the AMA Journal of Ethics, it had been argued that the reassignment surgery was a medical necessity for those troops who are affected By gender dysphoria.

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I get it, when you join the military you sign away your free will, for the most part. You are told what to do and what to think. From the time you sign your name on the contract you become property of the United States Military. You are taught methodologies, you are drilled in to reactions for given situations, and you constantly practice/drill until you know how to react to most given situations. The uniforms are as neutral as they can possibly be, so as not to distract you from how you are supposed to act. They are designed with effectiveness to hide you in most terrains. But in the end, you are a person who believes that you are fighting for the rights of you, your loved ones, and this very country.

The military has progressed, albeit sluggishly, in moving forward with the times. At one point only Caucasians were allowed to serve and then minorities like Native Americans and African Americans were allowed to serve. As wars unfolded and alliances changed, we even allowed those that were once considered enemies to be a part of our country and serve with pride. Women were not allowed to serve, then brought in as support personnel before finally being given the freedom to serve along their male counterparts.  And, mostly, women are seen as equal with the abilities to be as lethal and effective in combat as men. So why is this struggle any different?

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As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the government was only denying those who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria to serve, but if you were not diagnosed with gender dysphoria and agreed to serve as the gender you were assigned, then there is no issue. This doesn’t leave any grey area. You can identify as transgender, but you must concede in living as the gender you were assigned and not actively seek to follow treatments with hormones or surgery. Even gender nonconformists would not be able to serve in a fashion that aligned with their identity, as they would not be able to wear garments of the opposite sex.

This ruling only goes to solidify that in all the advances forward LGBTQ people are still seen as a mental or genetic illness that can be cured. Our very existence is not quantifiable as reality to a large percentage of people. Many of us live in the false reality that times are better and we are widely more accepted. I would argue that we may be more visible, but the hatred is still there only reshaped by the environment. We have only landed and not advanced on the beachhead, the bullets are flying because we are seen by those who wish to subdue us. I leave you with two quotes by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr that are very relevant to this day and age.

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

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Ted Talk Tuesday

Greetings loyal readers, I apologize for not posting yesterday. With it being Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I felt it best to spend the day in contemplation about some of the words of Dr King. Also, to use his inspiration in looking at future posts. So for your enjoyment I am adding a couple more Ted Talk links for today’s post.

First up is LZ Granderson who sheds light on the Super Duper Gay Lifestyle and Gay Agenda. He shares, in no nonsense terms, what it means to be LGBTQ and misconceptions that the general populace may have. He discusses states where it was still legal to vacate you from your housing, fired you from  your job, and etc, for the simple thing of being LGBTQ. So, all you heterosexuals reading this, run for your lives. And for the LGBTQ click below to watch the Ted Talk, oh you heterosexuals can as well. Its a equal opportunity place around here.

 

The last Ted Talk today is from IO Tillet-Wright and Fifty Shades of Being Gay and how it applied to the life that IO lived. IO uses photography as a means to engage people in topics that are outside of their comfort zones. Topics that challenge your thoughts on sexuality, gender, and what it meant to be in this world as your true authentic self. Topics such as Prop 8 and how lines are blurred in identities. What it is like to live your life outside of any prescribed box versus what modern convention states that a person should be.

 

The underlying theme here is that our very own Declaration of Independence sheds invaluable light on what it means to be a person in this world. To live as who we are and how we interact with this wonderous world. Our forefathers gave us that inalienable ability when they came here, somewhere since that time we have lost our way. These people, not defined as an activist, show us the err of our ways. They state in simplicity on how it is to be ourselves and let others be who they are. We should celebrate our differences, not show hatred towards. I hope these two Ted Talks can shape some view you may have had and allow you to open up and realize that the limitations we place aren’t the ending of what it means to be human.

Why May Hiding Be Necessary?

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I consider myself to be out an open about it, I don’t hide who I am. Even saying that I do realize that I do not tell everyone that I am a gay man. Is that being in the closet for not sharing, it may depend, itself, on the type of interaction that I have with a person. If a person smiles at me in the grocery store and starts a casual conversation, I don’t smile and say, “oh btw I’m gay.” It doesn’t have any bearing on the situation. Likewise, at work, if someone that I am not acquainted with makes comments about my dating life, I don’t answer back that I am gay. It just doesn’t need to come up. There isn’t a need to instigate a situation that could go in directions that aren’t conducive to polite conversation. If you ask me about it, then you will get a matter of fact response. My coworkers all know I am gay, and my family and friends know I am gay. I feel it is important that those I interact with a lot know about me. That is part of friendship and sharing.

Know when it’s a good time to come out to someone is as important as when not to. We still live in a world that has very strong beliefs about those that are different. People still share all kinds of microaggressions like asking inappropriate questions about our sex lives as well as dismissing our sexuality all together. Regardless of the intent, we still have to endure the effects they cause us. Many times, we even get the coded language remarks. Coded language refers to making statements about a person’s identity, oftentimes in a negative context. One such scathing remark is the horrible “he seems a bit light in the loafers,” referring to someone who may be acting effeminate. Or how about “your people are supposed to be good dancers, what happened?”

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In October 2018, the Huffington Post release an article titled “For Many LGBTQ+ People At Work, Outrageous and Offensive Remarks Are An Everyday Reality”  this article highlights seven individuals and the environments they work in. An anonymous 29-year-old lesbian remarked that “One male co-worker had the audacity to ask me when I ‘switched sides,’ rather than the far more appropriate question, ‘When did you come out?’ A different male co-worker asked me over lunch in the kitchen at the office, seemingly out of nowhere, ‘So, what do lesbians consider sex?’… I explained to him that while he may be understandably curious about non-heterosexual sex, Google would be a more appropriate outlet.”

K, a 41-year-old transgender person from Pennsylvania shared this about their workplace. “I’ve had people tell my boss they didn’t want to sit near me because they felt ‘uncomfortable.’ Interviewees have told me that they were asked, before they came onto the team, if they could work with a transgender co-worker. Just a few days ago, a co-worker asked if I was going to be Marilyn Manson for Halloween, because all I’d need was a white latex suit to look like his infamous album cover.”

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No matter how progressive your company may be, there are always going the be people who have very set feelings and views that will not change. It becomes a constant thought as to whether it is something worth pursuing or to simply let it slide. Ignoring it, no matter how trivial, can lead to other and higher forms of this type of behavior. And drawing attention to the matter can be just as bad for the person reporting it. These are the very reasons why laws need to be changed to ensure that LGBTQ people are not discriminated in the work place. What always strikes me is odd is how so many defend themselves with “oh, I didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just how I talk with my friends.” That justification doesn’t make the statement any less hurtful, in fact it implies that I would not like being around your friend as they seem to share the same backwards levels of thinking that you employ in your humor.

We often time make concessions for people who have these mindsets, in our work environment, because we do not want to create a scene, when it shouldn’t be something that we are forced to have to endure in the first place. If we have to consciously think whether or know this is a time or place to come out, then those who make these kinds of remarks or hold the opinions should take the moment to reflect on whether they should be sharing the same thoughts. This type of interaction isn’t only limited to a work environment, often times the worst we face comes from our own families. The very people that are supposed to love and accept us no matter what. They often are the ones that judge the more harshly and have such deep entrenched feelings that aren’t easily changed.

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Family interactions can be mitigated more easily, at times. If they aren’t accepting of who we are, we have the ability to create a family that does. I had mentioned before that one of the best lessons I was taught after coming out was that now I can choose and create my own family. This gives us a better chance to surround ourselves with people who do accept up. It allows us to create a bubble in an often-cruel world and can allows us to gain the strength we need to combat it.

I am not advocating living your life hiding who you are but pointing out that there are times in which it may be more conducive to simply not bring it up or engage it. If it is a passing instance of meeting someone, it can be better simply to just overlook the situation, without lying about it. Be true to yourself and don’t sacrifice your validity and remember that some battles can be avoided.

 

The Monetization Of Acceptance

Is it sad when commercialism makes larger strides in inclusivity than our own culture does? After all it is an industry that truly makes money on just about anything it can. There are fans that boast clique phrases from RuPaul’s Drag Race like; #Hunty. Sweatshirts that show the latest viral video stills, mugs to sport your favorite Meme, and now Hallmark will be selling cards to celebrate the transition process for transgender people. Does it help advance the movement for inclusivity or does it seem to trivialize the sentiment? There has already been an upswing in the amount of LGBTQ friendly cards with the legalization of LGBTQ marriage, but how does this weigh in with things like transitioning surgery.

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We are a marginalized community, there is not getting around that. We are one of the few minorities that discrimination against is legal in many states, we can lose our jobs, living accomodations, abd be turned away from public access of services simply because we do not follow into what some call societal norms. It happens everywhere and there is no escaping it, for now. It used to be if we wanted to find cards that celebrated milestones in our journey as LGBTQ people, we had to go to LGBTQ bookstores for card companies who actually made cards for us, However, that has been changing for some time now. Larger stores, like Hallmark , are carrying cards to celebrate Gay Marriage or even coming out. An article  was recently sent to me about Hallmark starting to carry cards for transition surgery for transgender people. So the question becomes, how has the mindset of commercialism moved ahead of societal acceptance and will this help us move forward.

 

Dont get me wrong, I think it is great to see a multimillion dollar company like Hallmark making these types of cards. After all, there are cards for almost every other occasion. It is a way to celebrate and show support for our friends that are going through this event. They do have an uplifting message, ones reads “You’re becoming who you have always been,” “How wonderful is that?” At present, there seems to be only two cards that are listed in the topic of “Transitioning,” I am sure that will grown as sales pick up. They have only been on the market since May of 2018. A simple search for LGBTQ cards turns up roughly 62 cards total, so that’s less that 1% of LGBTQ cards they carry but much more than they have carried historically. How long it can last or how much it can grow depends on how it is received and how popular it will be. Commercialism changes focus as the wind blows, so while it is a hot button topic at the moment how will it be received in the future.

As a homosexual, I am constantly aware of how commercialism is based around heteronormative practices. It is the same with every industry because there are reported larger numbers of heterosexual people than those that aren’t. I admit, I am not a person who is always on the lookout for a cards for a specific occasion, but there has always been a void of those that captured events that could be worded to sounds more LGBTQ positive. This is a step in that direction. Will this change mindsets of those who ally against us? No, sadly they will be the voice that says how this business is catering to a vulgar part of life, giving special privilege to some because they complained to get it.

 

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Designer Marco Marco uses all transgender models for clothing line. Models pictured above.

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Recently, there was also the new underwear brand Marco Marco that designed their underwear with transgender people in mind. According to Attitude Magazine  “Designer Marco Morante told Mic: ‘I wanted to create a space to celebrate trans bodies. This was an opportunity for their presence to be undeniable and reinforce that trans is beautiful.’ He used prominent transgender models for his fashion week debut this past summer. The names like Gigo Gorgeous, Carmen Carrera, and Laith Ashley were some of the many used for his runway. Morante is a long time supporter and designed for the LGBTQ community, so this only seemed like an appropriate next step. You can check out some behind the scenes images by following Laith on Instagram under his handle @laith_ashley. One of the attendees to the Marco Marco event was Laverne Cox who is the founder of the movement #TransIsBeautiful. She was quoted as saying, “When I started #TransIsBeautiful 3 years ago I wanted it to be a way for trans folks to celebrate what makes us uniquely and beautifully trans… It wasn’t about how cis we can look but rather about celebrating those things about us that are uniquely and beautifully trans.” Want to check out the runway show, see below.

 

 

What truly saddens me is that the commercial industry is so much further along that that of our society as a whole. Sure there is the argument that as long as there is a dollar to be made they will support it, but it doesnt change the fact that so many designers are pushing for inclusivity when our own government is doing what it can to repeal any laws that have already been passed. I am all for the forward momentum that this causes and wish more companies would take to the inclusivity approach, the fashion industry especially as this is an avenue that hasnt been fully explored for the needs yet.  What does disturb me about this trend is the whole “Here today and gone tomorrow” approach that seems to happen in commercialism. When the buzz dies down, will there still be the same push forward. We must encourage it to continue. Invest in those that invest in us and show that we want this change to continue. Be the object of the change you desire. Make it happen.

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Dishing The Tea

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Hello Hunties, gather round while I Serve Some Tea. I have had people, even recently included, tell me that I always talk about “This Gay Shit.” You’re right I do and sometimes I wish that I didn’t have to. Truth be told I think we all need to focus on the human existence, but truthfully, we live in a world that pushing the segregation of others, even if it is do so without thinking. We are a minority group that has its own set of culture, speech/dialog, and behaviors, just like any other minority group. Our world is shaded by the experiences we have and doubly so if we live our lives out to everyone. So why do we get called preachy if we have pride in the who’s and what’s that make us who we are?

Sure, there are LGBTQ people who are perfectly content to ride the low-profile bench, to not stand out, or even have other take notice of the fact they are different. That is their way of life and no one can say it isn’t their choice, that the thing about life it is jaded by how we choose to live it. Then there are those of us who live life fully embracing who we are. We attend Pride events, we take part in activism in our own means of choosing, we live in the community and try to make it a little better. That, too, is our choice. We shouldn’t have to apologize for who we are or being excited talking about those difference to people. In a perfect world it wouldn’t matter if we chose to love and be with members of the same sex as us or partake in both, it would simply be an act of love shared among consenting individuals.

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Heteronormative society doesn’t exactly see it that way. Many are content with us as long as we aren’t always talking about our Gay Shit, but they never seem to fully be able to define what that really means. Does it upset you that I take pride in my culture? Maybe it is the fact that knowing and sharing our history is something I think is needed to help understand where we have come from and are going? Many times, I get my favorite response, which I am sure many of you have heard before but referencing a different minority group. “I’m not bothered by it because I have many gay friends, but…” Or the “I know what it’s like to kiss (insert sex here) because I was dared to once.” or “I kissed a guy/girl in college.” While these two instances may seem monumental or opening some earthy shattering revelation for you, they aren’t on the scope of what it would feel like to live it on a daily basis. The “I have a LGBTQ friend” always gets me as well, as you rarely ever see or hear about them, unless it’s to defend the fact that they are open enough to have said friend.

When you fall into the white, cisgender, heteronormative life, it is hard to truly understand what any other minority group may be going through. As equally as hard as it would be for me a cisgender, white, LGBTQ person to try and understand what it is like living as a person of color. We live in a world where it is still legal in 28 states to be discriminated against for being LGBTQ. I really don’t think people understand that. 28 states can decide if I have a job, a place to live, access to community resources, and recourse if any violence is acted against me. Sure, that means in 22 states we do have protections, but that can drastically different depending on the state and to what level. Out of the 50 states, hate crimes against LGBTQ people have not greatly diminished. But let’s not talk about the “Gay Shit.” We still move to neighborhood that are statistically LGBTQ for safety reasons or if we cannot find them, we go back into the closet to make sure we aren’t harassed or worse. How many times do you hear heteronormative people saying they had to move to a specific community so that they felt like that would not be targeted for some form of discrimination?

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One of the things that I have become most proud of is that I have been working to get an LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce group to take office space at the place I work for and moving to get LGBTQ/Ally training for our organization. The organization I work for is fairly progressive, they already offer same sex benefits and give Racial Equity training to all of its employees, so for me I feel the natural progression was to have training that gave better insight on the LGBTQ community. A means to learn about discrimination and how to ensure we are fostering or pushing outdated mindsets to those we may come into contact with. After all, the business community touches all groups of people and we should be seeking to ensure that they are ALL welcome at the table. This has become very important to me, but there are those that do not share that sentiment.

Granted I am not a Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones, Barbara Gittings, or Christine Jorgensen, when it comes to activism, but I would like to think that I am doing a small part for moving things forward. I don’t expect my blog to be a major moving force forward, I am more content knowing that one person may find something the resonate with and help them through a struggle. These are the reasons that I talk about my “Gay Shit.” These are the same reasons that I will not stop. If it bothers you, I cannot apologize for that. What I can do is not waste that time on you. Because it would seem you have no desire to change where you are at in your journey. For that I am sorry, because no journey goes how we want or expect. We must be open to changing with the road and scenery. And that is Serving the Tea.

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