Often people outside of the LGBTQ community become confused by terms used commonly associated with the gay community to describe gender identity and different types of sexuality. Although most are familiar with what the letters in the LGBTQ acronym represent within the gay community, people remain stumped when it comes to figuring out what the little “+” defines. The information provided below is not meant to be a vocabulary lesson, but rather an aid in helping others to understand the gender fluidity that exists in today’s society and to help others understand that gender identity and sexual identity have little or nothing to do with acceptance.
Different Types of Gender Identity
The way people today identify their gender is very different from how it was defined years ago. In the past, people were defined by the gender, or sex, they were born with. This was limited to two categories, either male or female, and was determined by the sexual organs that were present at the time of birth. Today, however, gender is no longer held within such a tight well-defined box. Some people are born female, but feel more masculine and, therefore, identify themselves as a male and vice versa. Some members of the community do not feel as if they are members of either the male or female gender and identify as neither, labeling themselves agender or gender-neutral.
Different Types of “Sexualities”
As with gender, so goes sexuality meaning there are many ways that people are attracted to others emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. This could mean they are attracted to members of the same sex, opposite sex, both sexes or simply experience no levels of attraction at all to anyone regardless of how another person identifies themselves in terms of gender and sexuality. The list of definitions (HRC.org) for these different types of sexual identities already exists and is available online and in book for anyone to gain knowledge of and the intent here is not to bore you with those definitions, but rather to explain that regardless of gender and sexual identity, acceptance is the key. It is to show people with a lack of understanding that people who are different are not to be feared and ostracized for their beliefs about themselves, but accepted, embraced and loved for those differences.
Gender Identity & Sexuality Acceptance
Regardless of how a person identifies themselves, acceptance is what is important to them. For instance, imagine if your parents wanted you to be a doctor. However, your passion was to be a musician. When you told your parents they probably had an adverse reaction and explained how they didn’t support your decision. Hearing that from the people who were supposed to support you the most more than likely had a detrimental effect. The same can be said for those trying and fighting for the support to be themselves and identify with the way they truly feel, only their situation is not a choice. Some are already confused or scared and just want to know that they have the love and support from the people who mean the most to them. That support is necessary for them to be feel appreciated and be happy.
Real World Examples
The most recent example is the clap back from the community that celebrity Ellen DeGeneres has received for sitting next to a Republican president at a football game. Ellen DeGeneres has been out and been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community for years. She has a long list of achievements based on her advocacy for acceptance. However, it is widely known that the members of the Republican party, especially with the most recent administration, don’t accept the gay community. In pure Ellen DeGeneres fashion, she defended herself by saying that this person accepts her. Simply because he does not believe as she does not mean that this person cannot be her friend. While this person may not accept how she identifies herself sexually or hold the same beliefs, it doesn’t mean they can’t both accept one another for their differences and look beyond them.
Someone you probably would never think of when it comes to people who support the gay community is Dolly Parton (The Advocate). She was born in the s0-called “bible-belt” of the United States. However, she is known for her outspoken appreciation for her fans and all members of the LGBTQ+ community. As she has stated many times, she knows what it is like to fight for love and acceptance, She has known struggle and understands what its like to want to feel appreciated for who you are and what you stand for. She has also said many times it is important for people to be who they are and to love who they love no matter what and that it is important for people not to be so judgmental.
Some celebrities opt not to put a label on themselves. For instance, in 2019 Ariana Grande released a song called “Monopoly.” One line in the song stated that she liked women and men, which led many of her fans to Twitter to ask if this meant she was bi-sexual. She has since neither confirmed or denied her sexuality publicly. As she has stated, she does not feel the need to label herself. Her fans admired and accepted that decision, especially since how she identifies herself has nothing to do with her musical talent and career.
Most people fear what they don’t know or take the time to understand. The current administration is not helping people to understand; it is breeding fear. It depends upon us, as a community of advocates, supporters, family and friends, to spread knowledge and acceptance. For those that don’t understand, ask questions! To families of children who are questioning their sexuality or gender, embrace them and help them through it, don’t oust them and make them feel like something is wrong with them. Acceptance and love is what it’s all about and that can only be done through knowledge and understanding. Once we have mastered that, only then can we truly all make this world a better place for everyone.