We All Belong – Understanding LGBQT+

Navigating and Understanding LGBQT+

2020 saw more than just a pandemic. It saw individuals embrace their true identity. From celebrities to the average day person, individuals came to start adapting to their new life more free than before. Whether COVID helped persuade these individuals, or literally everyone just started embracing who they were, “coming out” is still a significant deal.

COVID may have spurred individual’s self-acceptance, only because the loneliness and personal solitude seemed to draw deeper attention to one’s life. COVID obviously didn’t just do this to those who identify as LGBQT+, it affected almost everyone. Married individuals began to see a different view of their marriage, parents forced to be at home with their children found a different perspective to parenting. In general, there was a shift in mentality and life.

As everyone transitions through accepting and living their fullest life, there may be a struggle to adjust to a new reality. Along with there being a struggle, there may be questions as well. As a straight cisgender female, I have only begun immersing myself into the community and learned so much.

The biggest thing I’ve learned when it came to navigating the LGBQT+ community is that all anyone in any community wants is to be heard. Even though there seems to be more liberation in the LGBQT+ movement, it does not mean there do not continue to be struggles or misunderstandings. Understanding how to navigate and understand the process varies from person to person. Every individual has a different stance on LGBQT+, and that goes beyond the spectrum of accepting and disputing the entire concept.

All in all, there are discrepancies of dealing with the issues behind LGBQT+. I believe there are a few issues that are surrounding the movement. Majority of them come from celebrity involvement. In my opinion the reason there is still push back from people regarding LGBQT+ community is because there is too much publicity around it. It’s now seen as “clout”.

And clout just means a way of gaining attention and remaining relevant in the social world. It started with rappers making music that was being popularized even though it wasn’t necessarily their usual form of music (i.e. Drake and jumping on a song with a Reggaeton artist even though he is a R&B artist). And then it started trickling into various communities.

I feel it’s important to highlight the LGBQT+ community, because for decades the community was often viewed as “outcasts”. They are sometimes seen as “abnormal”.  When quite honestly, they are the way they are, and they are trying to live their life happily. It starts with understanding the individual personally, and not going to them with preconceived notions that you’ve either read or heard.

The biggest thing to take away is that everyone’s story is different. One individual’s “coming out” story does not mean it is everyone’s “coming out” story. My friend in college came out to me by slipping a piece of paper that said, “I’m gay” on it. She was nervous and scared to say it out loud and felt it was the best way to say it. But once she did, and saw that I had no issues, she felt a pressure relieved and went back to being who she was, but no longer hiding her true self. Another friend told me his “coming out” story and told me the moment he told his friends that he was gay, they stopped talking to him and completely removed him from their social circle.

It was a confusing thing for me to understand that personally. Someone who identifies as LGBQT+ is no different the second after they make you aware of that. They are the same person, but you just have one extra slice of information about them that apparently makes them suddenly so different. That is why there seems to be such a “stressor” around LGBQT+ individuals coming out.

The other question one must ask, is how would I feel if I had more intimate information about my cisgender friend’s relationships?  Do I need that information?  How does having that information change the relationship I have with my friend(s)?  All of these are factors in not only romantic relationships within the LGBQT+ community, it’s the question one asks about *every* relationship, sibling, parent-child, child-parent, co-worker, friend, etc.  Not just romantic.  What other community has that much scrutiny on their relationships?

Celebrities have not made that any easier. Caitlyn Jenner was received with open arms, and no one quite discredited her when she claimed she regretted transitioning. For a trans individual, the journey is difficult and long. It’s a mental, physical, and emotional battle for them for the rest of their lives. Finding the resources to get you to the point of accepting yourself is also difficult for them. But when a celebrity comes out as trans (i.e. Caitlyn Jenner) and immediately transitions, it’s seen as an unfair advantage. And then to regress and claim it was a “mistake” is a HUGE blow to the transgender community, where each individual would’ve seized the opportunity to transition to their true gender identity.

Another few celebrities I want to highlight are Bella Thorne, Tana Monegu, Trisha Payatas, Demi Lovato, Lili Reinhart, and Carissa Pinkston. All of them have made headlines for their involvement in the LGBQT+ community, whether it is them coming out or bringing more attention to it. Unfortunately, celebrity involvement has become the norm, and it’s the reason why there are a lot of people who have preconceived notions of how the community is.

It’s miserable for LGBQT+ individuals to not know how to properly express themselves. A celebrity with a huge following may have a few backlashes from random people, but for an average individual trying to embrace their true identity, they may fully lose everyone around them. It’s incredibly important to support them and show support. Supporting them is very different from showing support. Being active in their adjustment and being aware of how their mental status is and being available are just small ways to help.

There are so many more resources now for the LGBQT+ community. One of the biggest is GLAAD, which supports all forms of LGBQT+ and brings awareness and resources to the community. They hold rallies, fundraisers and actively bring attention to break the stigma around LGBQT+. There are a few celebrities that do provide attention as well. I personally would choose Demi Lovato, as she REGULARLY brings attention to the community along with promoting her career.

Though navigating LGBQT+ has changed and drastically evolved over time, it doesn’t mean that you should let up support and sit back. To be someone who is an ally, being involved and showing support is the biggest step. Listening and understanding is the other. And ask questions! There hasn’t been one time I got backlashed for asking questions if I didn’t know an answer to the community. They want to educate and bring awareness. There may be generic answers, but for specifics, ask the individual that confided in you. They know themselves the best and would love to educate you.

Everyone is different, and everyone belongs in this world. Let’s make the world a happier, and more loving place. One letter at a time.