When I was a sophomore in high school, a guy came up to me and asked, “Are you a lesbian?” While there wasn’t any malicious intent behind those few words, my brain lit up with red sirens. Immediately, I panicked. “No! Why would you say that?” I snapped back, brushing him off with a flippant response.
From that point on, I wondered why he asked me that, but what I really should have been thinking was why it mattered in the first place. For the next three years, there was an ongoing battle in my head — am I queer? Did he plant a seed in my head, creating thoughts that weren’t actually my own? Or did I actually have feelings for the girl in my dance class?
This denial and emotional turmoil is called internalized homophobia. Internalized homophobia and oppression happen to LGBTQ+ people who have been groomed by society to believe that being queer is not normal or, even worse, not ordinary. For years I denied that I was not only attracted to men, but also women. I grew up in the northeast with a very supportive family who are all allies and yet, when I came out to my parents, I still felt ashamed.
The reason for that was simple: fear. I feared that people would view me differently and only see for my sexual preference, or just chock me up as a potential member for a threesome to bring spice to their mediocre sex life.
As someone who identifies as bisexual, I not only feared this from the heterosexual pressures of society, but also my own community. Biphobic assumptions are numerous and equally detrimental as homophobic assumptions. Assuming a person is gay or straight based on their current relationship is biphobic. Saying that bisexuality is just a pitstop to gay town is biphobic. Thinking we need to choose a side or gatekeeping who is actually bisexual, or that bisexuals have an easier time coming out because they can “act straight” — these are all extremely biphobic.
To quote a great character from Grey’s Anatomy, “You can’t pray away the gay!” Be respectful and embrace what makes you unique. I hope that by sharing my struggles and my gradual acceptance of myself, I can help others love themselves and celebrate who they are.
“However, with the coming election, my fears once again seep into the back of my mind. Restrictions on LGBTQ+ people’s rights harm the more than 10 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ+, as well as their friends and families.”
However, with the coming election, my fears once again seep into the back of my mind. Restrictions on LGBTQ+ people’s rights harm the more than 10 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ+, as well as their friends and families.
According to the Planned Parenthood website, “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people already experience greater barriers to accessing health care than non-LGBTQ people. Yet, the Trump-Pence administration has repeatedly – and is continually – trying to take away LGBTQ people’s rights.”
President Donald Trump crafted a multitude of these barriers. Some include opposition to the Equality Act, appointment of anti-LGBTQ justices like Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the ban of transgender service members from the military. The list goes on.
Our country is in a rocky position right now. The worst that could happen, I believe, is the demolition of decades of improvement for minority rights, which includes women, queers and racial minorities. We have fought tooth and nail to earn a seat many men obtain with a phone call, a decent resume stamped by an Ivy League school and some harassment charges.
Frankly, the only people who should not be scared about the election are those who directly benefit from centuries of patriarchal beliefs that turned into policy because, surprise, they are the same people who wrote them. However, in the face of adversity, we must stand strong and hide our fear. Coming together to vote, to raise our voices in protest and to stare opposition in the eye — that is what it takes to survive.
Email Georgia Thoms at firstname.lastname@example.org.