LOL, NEVER! But seriously: this is something I was (sort of) accused of recently by someone who messaged me saying how spitting angry it made them that gay people always made it the centre of their personality and demanded special treatment or love just for being ‘different’. This is such unimportant shit, can’t we just be humans?!
This is my side of a conversation I never thought I’d have, so I’m glad it happened. I would love to hear your thoughts. Maybe it’s not perfect, maybe they went away still angry, but I think mutual understanding was reached and that feels so valuable. And yes, I said “mutual”, because I learned to really listen to what was upsetting them instead of getting grumpy in return. I’m not denying that often it can be beyond our energy to be patient, and it’s good to recognise when somebody just wants to hurl abuse and not engage. But when we do have the resources to be kind, always be kind.
I think what I’m getting is 1) you don’t feel the need to know if or how somebody is LGBTQ+, because it’s a personal thing and we’re all humans at the end of the day and b) what pisses you off is people throwing it in your face all the time like they’re expecting special treatment. This about right?
So, no, you’re right. If somebody introduced themselves to me and said Hi I’m [name], I’m gay! I’d find that very weird. However if you have spent a large part of your life being told that what you are is disgusting/immoral/freakish/etc then knowing and owning your own identity becomes fundamentally important to who you are.
Also, social media is a different place. I wouldn’t introduce myself in person the same way I introduce myself on Facebook, or Instagram – putting my identity/sexuality in these places is a signal to my community of who I am. Not least because I use social media more for business now, so I want to let other LGBTQ+ people know that I’m part of that community, and thus an understanding person to book coaching from (and it backs up credence on my allyship workshops too).
Sexuality and gender identity and race and all that IS important – but it generally only becomes visibly important when we are taken out of our majority. People in India don’t go around saying ‘yes, I’m Indian, it’s very important to me’, but you can bet that if they’re the only Indian person in a room full of white folks in New York, their identity suddenly becomes something they want to hold on to. It’s the same with sexuality (not for everyone, because all humans are different, but generally) except unlike race you cannot see it, so to be ‘visible’ it has to be spoken if you don’t want to be assumed straight (and/or if you want to know up front who’s likely to give you grief for it, so you can not waste any more time on them). Is this making sense?
Society assumes everyone is cisgender heterosexual unless told otherwise, and that can be exhausting and depressing when you’re just not seen for who you really are. Imagine if everyone assumed you were gay, everywhere you went (not as a jokey thing, but because most of society was, so nobody even thought otherwise) – you’d correct them, right?
As for the ‘shoving it in your face’ – with the best will in the world, I think that one’s on you I’ll use “me” as an example, but 100% not because I’m taking this personally! So, I share who I am, without shame. I’m not forcing it on anyone, I am just existing. I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m not highlighting hey I’m different! I’m saying this is me. I don’t mention it to everyone I meet, or every time I see someone, it’s just there on my profile (see earlier comment about social media vs real life). Pride and stuff is people celebrating who they are, because we are constantly told we should be ashamed of it. If you are not interested, then it’s not for you, it’s that simple. Scroll past, look away. Heterosexual weddings are everywhere, straight couples are always holding hands in public, being depicted in relationships on TV, bringing their opposite-sex spouses to speaking events, trying to tell me about their dating angst – that’s not seen as shoving heterosexuality in my face, it’s just people being people.
You are part of the cycling community, many of your posts are about bikes/cycling, even your profile pic is a racing bike! Is that shoving it in my face?
Short answer I guess is it’s “unimportant shit” to you, but it’s very important shit to me. I don’t want special treatment, I just want a society where my wife doesn’t have slurs and death threats shouted at her from passing cars.