Equality For All

About 4% of the US population identifies as LGBTQ+. This number is certainly higher, but hate crimes and prejudice alone are more than enough reason for someone to remain silent and follow traditional gender norms. Aside from peers, this discrimination typically comes from police officers, religious institutions, companies or from our government.

LGBTQ+ people and their allies continue to fight for equal rights in regards to marriage, housing, employment, health care, protection from hate crimes and much more. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. However, discriminatory policies still existed (as they do today) and put a halt on true progress in dismantling prejudice. Sterilization, castration, lobotomies and traumatic conversion therapies are etched in American history and some modern day anti-LGBTQ+ bills intend violate civil rights in similar fashion.

💜 If you are queer or questioning and looking for support, please scroll down to the bottom of this post for more resources. If you need  a safe space to speak, don’t hesitate to reach out and I will provide you with tools to educate and overcome. 💜

What is Pride Month?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to honor the Stonewall Riots (aka the Stonewall Uprising). New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in NYC, which sparked a riot that led to six days of protests when cops became increasingly violent toward the gay community. Police arrested anyone not wearing gender-appropriate clothing, physically assaulted bar patrons and raided other gay bars in Greenwich Village.  As a result of discrimination and abuse from law enforcement, an international gay rights movement was born.

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What are personal gender pronouns and why do they matter?

In English, people use pronouns when speaking about us. Often, these pronouns have a gender implied, such as he (boy/man) and she (girl/woman) and are usually made based on a person’s name or appearance. These assumptions can be incorrect and could send a harmful message – that people must dress the gender they were assigned and conform to an identity they are separate from.

To create an inclusive and respectful environment, work on using someone’s correct personal pronouns the same as you would use their correct name. It can be offensive to dismiss someone’s pronouns and refer to them in a way they do not want to be known. Ignoring someone’s pronouns could be seen as  implying that their life does not matter enough for basic respect.

To practice inclusivity, try starting conversations in the future by addressing the pronouns you use and ask politely for theirs. E.g. Hi, my name is Damien and I go by the pronoun ‘they/them’. And yourself?

Sharing pronouns is a fantastic way to disrupt the normalization and privilege of assumption.

What does LGBTQ+ actually mean?

The queer alphabet is a combination of letters attempting to represent all identities in the queer community. Below you will find some words and their meaning. Please be respectful to an individual who identifies as one of these people or groups, for discrimination is all to common in modern society.

» Lesbian refers to women who are sexually attracted to other women.
» Gay refers to people who are sexually attracted to the same sex, most often men who are attracted to other men.
Bisexual refers to people who are sexually attracted to both men and women.
» Transgender refers to people who identify mentally and emotionally as a gender that does not match their biological gender. It also functions as an umbrella term for Trans people, including Transwomen (MtF), Transmen (FtM), and Transsexual which refers to people who alter themselves physically through surgery or hormone therapy to align their physical bodies with their gender identity. Genderfluid and non-binary fall in this category as well, however some will not identify with being ‘transgender’.

Note: Gender identity and sexuality are not the same. Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with and gender identity is who you go to bed as.

» Queer is another umbrella term that applies to all LGBTQ+ people as a whole and is much shorter and easier to say than LGBTQIA2S+. Queer is also a general term for people to identify themselves as if they feel they don’t fit into certain letter or group.
» Questioning refers to people wondering if they belong in the queer community or are still questioning their gender identity or sexual preference.
» Intersex refers to people who are born with or develop genitals with ambiguous sexual characteristics because of chromosomal or hormonal abnormalities. Doctors will often choose a gender for Intersex babies and assign that gender through surgery shortly after birth. Hermaphrodite is outdated and offense and should not be used to describe these types of people.
» Asexual refers to people who only feels romantic attraction and not sexual attraction toward any gender.
» Agender refers to people who identify as neither male nor female.
» Ally is a person who supports the causes of the LGBTQ+ community without identifying as queer or LGBTQ+ themselves. Ideally this term would include everyone in the world who isn’t LGBTQ+, but we’ve got some work to do before that can happen.
» Pansexual refers to people who are attracted to other people regardless of gender. It is much broader than Bisexual, which limits attraction to just male and female. Pansexual is also often related to an attraction to another person’s personality.
» Two Spirit (2S) is a Native American term and applies to people who display both female and male qualities whether in their personality, sexuality or gender identity.

How can I be an Ally and a Friend?

If someone comes out to you (identifying themselves as queer for the first time), it is important to provide a safe space for that person. They are coming from a place of vulnerability and require a heavy amount of understanding and empathy. Take what your friend is telling you as the absolute truth. People generally don’t lie about being queer. It requires a great deal of courage to come out as a new member of such a marginalized group, so remember to be as supportive and validating as you can be.

If someone is seeking comfort in your friendship, let them know they are safe and the conversation will remain private.  Thoughts of dismissal and rejection are normal feelings when opening up about sexuality or gender identity, so it is important to move the conversation at their pace and respect any boundaries they may set.

Attend community events such as parades and other spaces where allies are invited. Move your money to support organizations or businesses that take a stand with the LGBTQ+ community. Simply listen to what your friend has to tell you and support them by being vocal in life and on social media.

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Why is LGBTQ+ equality important?

2020 marked the deadliest year on record for violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people since HRC began tracking data in 2013. At least 37 transgender and gender non-conforming people were killed. More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans faced discrimination of some kind in the past year, including more than 3 in 5 transgender Americans. 3 in 10 transgender individuals postponed or avoided medical treatment due to discrimination.

LGBTQ+ individuals experience high levels of discrimination in public spaces, at school and in the workplace. Wedding vendors, homeless shelters, adoption agencies, apartment rentals, daycares, hospitals and therapists are just some of the services many LGBTQ+ Americans find difficult or impossible to access. The government has abandoned its own people, so it’s up to the people to even the odds.

LGBTQ+ Resources

Visit GLAAD for an LGBTQ+ Resource List separated by category.
Visit CDC for LGBTQ+ Youth Resources. Visit Planned Parenthood for more youth resources. Visit Lambda Legal for LBGTQ+ youth resources by state. Visit Youth Allies for more organizations by category.

Dial 800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.