Pride month has once again come, kicking off celebrations and parades all across the country! This month everyone will be posting about the LBGT community; the struggles we have overcome, the oppression we still face from outside our community, and of how proud our community is and should be. I however am going to take this opportunity to shed some light on what really needs to be addressed and discussed this Pride month: our broken community. Whether you can see it or not; or rather, whether you allow yourself to see it or not; our community is broken and it is our fault.
Throughout the years, our community has been through hell and back. We have fought for every inch when it comes to our rights and to being not only treated equal but to be seen as equal in the eyes of those around us. Being a member of the LGBT community is already hard because of the stigmas that we have to push through and deal with from those outside our community. We are still fighting for rights that should be inherent, including an LGBT Equality Act currently in congress. Maybe this is where our behavior is learned from, the constant fighting for rights and dealing with stigma from outside our community.
For all that we talk about being inclusive and accepting, we are perhaps the most divided community that I know of. We preach acceptance while choosing to ostracize each other. We demand equality while practicing discrimination. We call for love, while spreading hate. Is this really what our community has come to? Is this what we really want to be? Because right now we are a community of hypocrites who preach one thing and then practice another! That is the very thing that many of us accuse the religious communities for doing.
Getting old in the gay community is probably one of the biggest fears that we all have. I think that in part this is because we feel we will no longer be accepted as we grow older, but yet we are the ones casting out the older generation. Perhaps it is because we don’t want the reminder that one day we will be in their shoes if we are lucky enough to live that long. But this creates an endless circle! If we would just start accepting them into our community and give them their rightful places as friends, role models, and mentors, we would no longer have to worry about not being accepted when we get older. In fact we would maybe start looking forward to being at a stage when we can then in turn mentor and teach the next generation after us. We should be honoring and celebrating our elders, not setting them out to be forgotten. I feel as though I need to remind people, even though it should be obvious, that you do not have to have sex with someone just to talk to them and carry a conversation. Who knows, maybe you will learn a thing or two!
Another area that we need to address is the issue of race. This is something that shouldn’t be an issue at all! People of color have suffered long and hard to earn their equal rights, just as the LGBT community has! And this means that those in the LGBT community who are people of color have to suffer twice as much from outside the community and then deal with even more racism from within! Why should they have to suffer the discrimination, rejection, and outright hate that we show towards them simply for the way they were born? We claim people should treat us equally as humans because we were born the way we are, but yet have you ever thought that the same should be said of people of color? They were born the way they are and they are just as beautiful in every way as anyone else!
Perhaps the closest and hardest hitting area for me is the struggle of living with HIV in the LGBT community. The funny thing here is that I get more acceptance of my HIV status from straight people than I do within my own community. HIV affects our community more than any other and yet we refuse to talk about it. We outcast those who are positive, and we balk at educating ourselves on the issue! People believe they know everything they need to know about HIV and dismiss the newest and latest scientific findings as lies. People refuse to have a conversation with someone living with HIV. In many instances, I have had people go out of their way just to insult and degrade me for my status. I have been told that I need to move away because people didn’t want me living near them. I have been told that I deserve what I got from people who are more promiscuous than I have ever been and take even fewer precautions. Being diagnosed with HIV is like having your entire world turned upside down, and then to add on to the already near crippling stress, you have to deal with hate, stigma, and bigotry from the very community that you should be proud to be in.
It isn’t easy being a member of the LGBT community, and it isn’t because of what we go through to secure our rights and equality from outside. It isn’t easy because we don’t make it easy. It is our own fault that we have the problems we do in our community and it is past time that we fix them. Dealing with the pressure and stresses that we have to put up with from outside our community would be a million times easier if we could only support one another and be there for each other as opposed to dividing ourselves, hating each other, and discriminating against our own. We should be a family united together, more than just a community of misfits and outcasts. The biggest pain of belonging to the LGBT community is cause internall. Let that sink in.
This Pride month, let’s start a conversation about the problems we have within our community. How can we even try to change things outside of our family when we need to take care of the internal things first? Imagine how much we can accomplish if we all set aside our differences and worked in unity, becoming accepting of one another as we are asking the world to do with us. We would become a force to be reckoned with. We would become a safe haven for those who need us. We could reduce suicide rates within our community because people would have somewhere to go instead of being ostracized! Someone to talk to instead of being outcast! Start the conversation and let us figure out how to fix our family.