Growing up in an unconventional, progressive household, I’ve never been afraid to express myself. Living with my lesbian mother and her girlfriend, there was never a “coming out” period in my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been comfortable in the knowledge that I was bisexual. I was raised in this community, going to Pride Fests every year and openly celebrating who I was.
As I began to grow older, though, I started to recognize some things that I was not familiar with. With the help of the internet, I was introduced to my first real best friend, a transgender man who was heavily involved in social politics.
Before this, I’d thought that the community consisted entirely of gay and lesbian men and women. I began to learn that it was not “gay rights”, but “LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) rights”. I was shocked at first, and then outraged. I’d been comfortably ignorant my entire life. It was time I began to educate myself.
I learned that power structures played a big role in the LGBTQIA community. Our people are silencing, oppressing, and even murdering those we should be welcoming with open arms. Ignorance is our biggest issue. While white, able-bodied, cisgender gays and lesbians are representing the community, we continue to hurt others through racism, misogyny, transphobia, ableism, and so much more.
I realized that unless I recognized the bigotry I’d been fed all my life, and made an active effort to re-educate myself and get rid of these oppressive thoughts and behaviors, I would never make a real difference in my community.
I firmly believe that the first thought that runs through your mind is what you’ve been taught to think, and the second thought reflects your true nature. If we choose to remain ignorant to the struggles of others, not only will we continue to play a role in their oppression, but we will never truly know who we are as individuals.
In order to move forward as a community, we need to accept that we still have privileges others don’t have, and instead of playing “oppression olympics”, we need to open up our minds and hearts to listen to those who deserve a voice.