LGBTQ are a group of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender or questioning their sexuality.
I remember the day my sister told me that she identified as lesbian. It had been the first time we saw each other in more than 15 years, and we were so excited about the reunion. But that excitement quickly turned to confusion when she introduced me to her girlfriend.
First of all, she was still married. Then I was confused because her girlfriend was way cuter than my sister (but I guess that's the goal of getting a bae). I had so many questions for her, and had no idea how I would ask her any of them around this beautiful, modelesque brown Barbie doll my sister called her “boo." My sister sensed my curiosity, so she graciously took me to a bar to help me sort through her announcement while we caught up.
I sort of pictured the floor dance to look like this
I hadn't known many gay women before my sister, so I had my sister give me a crash course on lesbian relationships. After answering some of my questions, the next thing I remember is her girlfriend hopping on the floor on all fours to dance when her favorite song was played. I don't know what she did on that floor, but I do know that men started throwing money at her.
My sister shook her head at her boo and said, “Oh, she's temporary. You know what it is." Meaning: her new girlfriend was just someone she was casually sleeping with.
Although my sister's (now old) flame was a great introduction to understanding that there weren't too many differences between lesbian and heterosexual relationships, I still didn't quite understand the subject. Fortunately, I had the privilege to serve with a number of lesbian women in the Navy. It was those women who helped me to understand that they are still a marginalized group.
This year, what they taught me about LGBTQ relationships hit home when this year I learned that I have a cousin who identifies as transexual, and another who was once bisexual. That's when I started to take a better look at how I conducted myself around people that are LGBTQ, and I quickly noticed that people can be very rude to them. Myself included.
I spoke with three lesbian women and a gay man. We talked about everything from religion, to what people typically get mistaken about people who identify as LGBTQ, and even why Caitlyn Jenner is not a hero in one of their eyes. See what they had to tell me in our chat session.
1. “Love the sinner, hate the sin."
After talking to TJ James, a woman who identifies as lesbian in the Houston area, she believes that many people who say this aren't saying it out of genuine love or respect.
“I'm just so frustrated with people feeling as though you're sinning [if you're lesbian]. They always tell me 'I don't condone what you do because it's a sin.' Stop it!"
I understand why this frustrates her. “Love the sinner, hate the sin" is the same phrase that some people repeat to welfare recipients, pot smokers, or unwed mothers. Without even knowing it, you may essentially be calling someone a “degenerate" when you use this phrase, so tread lightly when you say it.
2. “Why do you hate men?"
Lynn McCoy, who lives in the DMV area and identifies as lesbian, told me that this was one thing that bothered her about other people not understanding LGBTQ relationships.
I have to admit that when my sister told me she was lesbian, I thought she was doing it to get back at her husband because she hated him, and all men in general. She's my sister, so I can say that I am somewhat correct in my assumption. But Lynn made me realize that all lesbian women aren't like my crazy sister.
“[I really hate it when people] Assume that we hate men. That in order to love a woman, you must loathe men. That's ridiculous. I just like women, what's wrong with that?"
3. “But you haven't been with me."
I admit that if Serena Williams ever says that she identified as lesbian, I would encourage my husband to say this to her if we ever met, so she can be my sister-wife. (Please note that I'm not gay, but I'm definitely gay for her, because I want her to be my sister-wife.) But I learned from Krissya Sifontes-Vazquez, a professional pin up model who identifies as lesbian in the Los Angeles area, that this could be a really insulting phrase. She told me during our chat,
“I am attracted to females, and there is a reason for it...I always say to [men who say this to me], “Well why are you attracted to females? Are you in any shape or form attracted to males? Well that's exactly why I am attracted to females, so let's keep that in common. [laughs]"
4. “Caitlyn is a hero to some, but not for me."
I was personally happy when Caitlyn was finally able to live the life she's always wanted to live, while unintentionally empowering youth to be who they are as well. I also had this idea that all LGBTQ people were here for her big announcement. Turns out, I was wrong.
I spoke with Elijah Lowder, a man who identifies as gay in Cleveland, and he said that there are other of LGBTQ heroes out there that many people have seemed to have forgotten about.
"...As a gay male that has struggled with identity issues, friends that fell victim to illness, suicide, and murder, I do not find [Caitlyn] heroic. My personal hero was my best friend..She was murdered. She was the one who made me smile while in tears about her own predicaments. [Her name] Was Cece, and she was Transgender. When witnessing members of my community suffering with HIV/AIDS, I think to myself, “They are heroes!" Some could and could not change their outcome, but they fight that same battle that so many lost...I'm not bashing Caitlyn Jenner, but she's not my cup-of-Kermit."
5. We need to love each other more.
One thing they all said to me during my conversations with them is that they wished people would love more and judge less.
It broke my heart hearing that. In the past, I didn't know how to say anything around anyone who was LGBTQ. Looking back, I realized that I came across looking crass, when I didn't mean it at all that way. I know if I had that problem, others have had it as well.
"I look at everyone as equals, and I now view the world with love. If people in my circle, or around me, don't meet eye-to-eye with that simple concept, then I simply walk away, because there is no need for any type of negativity. I strongly believe that the band “The Beatles" were right [in their song] - 'All You Need Is Love! If we can all make that effort to keep the love, I feel that there wouldn't be so much hate in our world today."
I agree with her, or we should at the least keep insensitive remarks to ourselves. No one deserves to get the feelings hurt on purpose. Before I had the opportunity to ask Elijah why he thought so many people were rude toward those who identified as LGBTQ, he answered the question.
"Sometimes I feel the world is so negative. In all reality it's just not educated about things that [people who identify] as LGBTQ might find typical of our daily lives, or lifestyle. We need to thank one another daily, in an effort to become [someone else's] hero. We don't need to become a hero by murder or the ostracism of society."
A lot more love, and a little less “judgy". I can swing that.
Was there anything that you thought you understood about LGBTQ people, but got wrong? Please share, so that we can all understand, learn, and spread the love.