Firstly, I’d like to wish everyone a remarkably happy Pride Month: to wish luck to everyone planning on coming out this month, to wish strength on those having a rough time due to bigotry, discrimination, and family troubles, and love to those with the luxury of being out, proud, and relatively unafraid.
The most amazing part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Ally, Asexual, HIV-infected/affected, and Pan/polysexual (LGBTQQIAAHP) community, and also the most daunting for us activists, is the sheer size and diversity of its people. This community is arguably larger and more diverse in needs and members than any race, religion, or ethnic group on the planet, simply because we come from each and every one of them at least a hundred times over. I mean, just take a good, hard look at the acronym and the ten distinct communities that make up this conglomerate. It is our greatest asset and our greatest weakness.
In any group, regardless of size, there’s bound to be disagreements and in-fighting. In a group this big, those disagreements, once harmless and relatively constructive, become lethal. Wars break out between factions that seek to elevate themselves at the expense of others. Not to sound too Abraham Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our community is no different. We, as queer people, have a responsibility to protect each other. We face similar struggles, and we have common goals. We should be standing united, not fighting ourselves. A war on two fronts never works. It’s almost as effective as trying to invade Russia in the winter.
It can be said, and is certainly true that there are prejudices in our community against some of its own members. That’s an inevitability. How we respond to those prejudices, however, is the important part: we can 1) ignore it and wait for the community to dissolve on its own, 2) fight back and help the community to actively destroy itself, or 3) seek to educate others and correct their misconceptions. Lack of understanding plays a huge role in prejudice, after all. Educate others regardless of your dissimilarities. Together, we can take acceptance and success. Divided, we fall back into the angry, closeted hole we’ve worked so hard to escape from.
Our needs are vast, wide-ranging, and sometimes confusing to outsiders. Many “allies” delude themselves into thinking that by giving “the gays” the right to marry, we’ll go away. We won’t, and we shouldn’t. They think marriage and military service is good enough. It’s not. We won’t go away until there is a cure for HIV, until the lifetime deferral on blood donation for gay and bisexual men is removed from FDA policy, until the rate of suicide amongst queer youth is equal to or lower than that of their straight peers, until the concept of homophobia and violent/sexual/verbal hate crimes are things of the past, until the practice of gay conversion therapy is banned, until each and every trans person gets their preferred amount of medical and psychological care, until every trans person feels safe using the restroom of their preferred gender, until discrimination based on gender and sexuality is eradicated, until non-binary individuals are treated by society at large with the respect they deserve, and until we have achieved genuine, true, and pure equality legally, societally, and culturally. No one facet of the LGBTQ+ community can achieve these things independently. We require the unified voice and support of everyone.
We are an endangered species. Obscene numbers of us are actively trying to kill themselves, through substance abuse, unsafe sex, and attempts at suicide. All of us are being hunted. There is still no cure for HIV; instead, we’re kept constantly fighting HIV-discrimination and at the mercy of insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies. Violence is perpetrated against us by those who are supposed to protect us: our families, our teachers, our doctors, and the police. The culture that is unique to our community is being suffocated as the larger American society proselytizes that this will all stop if we assimilate to right-wing family values.
Assimilation is annihilation. If we seek to thrive instead of mediocre survival, we must unite. We must come together, sort out our differences, and fight for each other regardless of gender, sexuality, and lifestyle. We are, each and every one of us, valid in how we live our lives, who and how we love—and fuck—, and how we express ourselves. Protect your Queer brothers and sisters as much as you protect those choose to live more conservatively.
Seek out inclusive groups, and strive to make more groups inclusive. Let’s learn from each other and be the supportive extended family so many of us never had. Refuse to let any of us be silenced, even if your voices and priorities are different. Make good, inclusive role models for generations that will come after us. Show people in power that we too will be successful. Spread your colourful wings and fight back when they spit misconstrued quotes from bastardized religious texts or vague “family values” at you. If we stand together, we can be the most formidable, loving, most protective family the world has ever seen. They snark about a “gay mafia,” let’s give them one. Take the necessary steps to protect our human rights: our lives, liberty, and our pursuits of happiness.