I am excited to start some dialogue regarding explanation of the LGBTQIA+ community. We can all be a part of personal advocacy. For what seems like most of the nation, these labels cause concern, discomfort and prejudice; we know that new terms and ideals promote this undesirable fear. So, I seek to explain these terms in simplistic ways that will be able to reduce fear and prejudice and increase ally ship and affirming spaces.The first letter we will take on is “Q”. “Q” is one of the most complicated letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym and encompasses so many things. “Q” stands for queer; queer, is generally defined as an umbrella term that encompasses all the other terms but also is less defining as some of the other letters. In other words, queer is the ability to not be subject to the stereotypes of some of the other letters in the acronym.
I know you are probably saying that queer was a negative term. It was. Queer was (and can still be) a slur to some of the communities it represents. A lot like other communities who have taken words with negative connotations back to empower their communities, people have done this same thing with the word queer. This is the power that marginalized people come into and require respect from allies who support these communities
So, how should one support those who identify as queer? Here are a few ways to be an appropriate ally for these communities.
Whenever possible, ask how one identifies.
Community organizations such as Human Rights Campaign (http://www.hrc.org/) and GLAAD (https://www.glaad.org/) have offered pronouns as the way to introduce people. Generally, people categorize themselves as He/Him/His, She/Her/Hers and Them/They. In the same way when talking about gender preference or sexual orientation, ask what classification one accepts. Remember some lesbian women identify as gay and vice versa, others identify as queer.
Have conversations with people who identify as queer.
One of the easy fixes to ignorance and prejudice to communities is to spend moments getting to know them. It takes a little sacrifice and some time getting over the nerves it takes to reach out to people you don’t know, but do it! It will make you more well versed and conscious of other’s needs, desires and likes. This makes marginalized communities less abrasive, defensive and fearful. Remember, being a queer person can feel like a target on your back. If you are in a more privileged community, do your part!
Don’t try to rationalize something that doesn’t affect you.
Many times, we try to explain things in our mind based on what we feel on the inside. We feel as though we can only identify with people if we can completely understand them. From race to sexuality and gender to language, we will attempt to rationalize their reality compared to our truth. It is not your position to give perspective to someone’s personal lens. It is our duty to create safe spaces for people no matter how they identify personally.
Doing these things help us for the greater good. Learning more about these communities is a start. We at Amy Wine Counseling Center provide a safe space for everyone in the community to work on improving their mental health. As professionals we work to provide education within the community and stand as advocates. If you identify as Queer or anywhere on the spectrum of sexual orientation feel free to call us 832-421-8714 to ask about counseling services.