Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Being Able To Bring Your Whole Self Into The Room

Despite the gains and increasing visibility made by the LGBTQ communities, there are still a countless number of people who do not understand why it is important to continue to push for rights. These rights can range from anything to the always on-topic marriage to protections from discrimination. And all of those rights are important for many people, and they should not be ignored. But I propose a new right, and often overlooked right that without it, many people suffer in silence: the right to be able to be yourself - your complete self - in a room.

You should not have to be afraid to open your mouth for fear of saying the wrong thing. You should not have to worry about losing friends, acquaintances, family members because of your identity. Not being welcome in spaces that once did. Most of all, you should not have to lie for fear of the truth being already too evident.

If you identify as someone interested in men, then you should be able to discuss your boyfriend, partner, crushes, etc. without fear of being perceived as less masculine.

If you identify as someone interested in women, then you should be able to discuss your girlfriend, partner, crushes, etc. without fear of being negatively labeled or receiving a flurry of unwanted attention (and not in a good way) or disregard.

If you identify as bisexual, you should not have to worry about people either not believing you or asking if you want to have a threesome. You should be able to talk about whomever you are interested in regardless of what gender they identify as.

How do we achieve this right? Not through any laws or bills or orders from the top. For better or worse, this right to be one’s self has to come through social change, social education, and social understanding. Even if you are not LGBTQ-identified, you can understand how it feels to watch your words. Now imagine how it feels to watch your words or outright lie about something that most people take for granted, speaking about love, relationships, crushes, kisses. It makes you feel like crap, doesn’t it? And, it makes you feel less like a persona and more like a bad caricature.

And this does not only apply to white LGBTQ people, but LGBTQ people of color as well. We have a false sense of the gay community being comprised of wholesome white, middle-class individuals who only worry about being LGBT-identified. But lives are so much more complex than that. People should be able to bring all of their identities into the room, whether they are white, black, Latino/Latina, Asian, disabled, non-disabled, old, young, religious, non-religious, etc.

There should be no such thing as a safe space. Everywhere should be a safe space. People should be allowed to be people in whatever fashion they like.

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