The case for pride: when you’re new in the neighborhood
When I first came out as bisexual, I spent a lot of time imagining what my future would look like. I was worried, afraid. I didn’t know any other bisexual people, didn’t know many established adults, and had no idea what the future of my relationships would look like.
When you first come out it can be hard to find validation in your experiences because you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s a lot like moving into a new neighborhood, the LGBTQ+ community.
You aren’t less of a part of the neighborhood if you don’t know every neighbor and every street name, in the same way you’re not less of a part of the community if you aren’t familiar with every nuance of your sexuality.
You belong here, and you have a place here.
During pride month there’s a lot of speculation, too much for my liking, around the sexuality of strangers. When queer people try and observe and take guesses around other’s relationships, we contribute to the stigmitizing of our community. We hurt people when we make them tell us who they are before they’re ready, and it needs to stop.
All are welcome at pride, and speculating if someone is “just straight” or “just cisgender” is harmful. We can’t know someone’s entire experience based on the clothes they’re wearing or their haircut or the accent they speak with. That’s bullshit.
Part of my work as a transgender advocate is reminding people that our perceptions are often formed through bias. We perceive what we want to, and make assumptions based on our own experience — which is not free from bias.
You cannot perceive that i am nonbinary, because my gender is somehting only I can describe and know for certain. Any other speculations are just that, only speculation. Neither rooted in facts or truth, just ideas and observations. Your theories may be right, but what matters in this moment is letting me share my own experiences in my own time.
Think again about the neighborhood. You can make assumptions about someone based on the flowers in their garden or the flags in their windows. Some assumptions may be right, and others completely false. The matter is you have to get to know your neighbors on a personal level before you can decide they would make a good friend or emergency contact or house-sitter.
That time spent getting to know someone is critical, because as queer people, we require trust and safety before we can be open about ourselves and who we love and who we are. That takes time, and you can’t perceive that, nor demand to be told this information from a glossed over perception at a booth at pridefest. That’s bullshit.
If you’re new to the LGBTQ+ community, welcome to the neighborhood. I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you find some amazing neighbors soon. :)