What are some of the most commonly asked questions about the LGBT+ community? Ranging from the coming out process all the way to questions about LGBT+ marriage, there’s curiosity surrounding the curious. However, in this case we will keep it so that curiosity does not kill the cat. It’s okay to be uncertain, uninformed, puzzled, perplexed, anything when it comes to a topic that you have not heard much about. Being ignorant towards a particular subject does not make you an ignorant person; however, speaking out of ignorance can lead to further ignorance. Below are some commonly asked questions about the LGBT+ community.
What is the coming out process like?
For me it was a process, my friend. It was something that I was juggling around in my head, self-doubting, felt shameful, it was something that I kept secret for too long. For some, the coming out process does not start with the individual telling friends or family about how they identify, the process starts at the very first inkling of curiosity. I had to come out to myself first, I had to figure out who I am before I made myself vulnerable. I think it can be really hard for some people to come out because of their families beliefs or morals, but what is most important is that you do what is healthiest for you; which is living your true self.
For me, the hardest people for me to “come out” to were myself, my father, and my sister. This is not because of our values or beliefs, because deep down I knew that my family would be accepting. However, you do have those thoughts that try to prove you wrong. I have had a great relationship with my dad and my sister, which is why I think it was harder for me to bring myself to speak my truth. I think it was harder for me to initiate the conversation because I was still afraid of the reactions for some reason.
I will say that now that I have come out, I have been happy with living the life that I always thought I would deny myself of.
How should I know what pronoun to use if I’m unsure?
If you’re not sure, that’s okay! Usually the rule of thumb is that if you are unsure of someone's pronouns, you can either ask them or use “they/them” until you are sure. It’s not a shameful thing to be unsure, the fact that this is a question you may have shows understanding as well as effort towards being compassionate. If it is your first time meeting someone and you are unsure of what pronouns they use, asking the question of “What are your pronouns?” can open a lot of doors.
Asking this simple question can allow the individual to become comfortable, may reduce their social anxiety, may reduce their worries about discrimination, as well as allows the individual to be referred to in a way that feel ostracized.
Did you choose to be LGBT+?
I think this is a very commonly asked question by society. The question is being LGBT+ a choice or is it something that is genetic? If you ask around the LGBT+ community, you may get several different responses depending on who you ask. For me, I think a lot of people neglect the history of LGBT+ people before there were terms for sexual orientations and gender identities. There have been some historical depictions of LGBT people in rock paintings as well as medical texts; which shows how this has carried on through generations.
Epigenetics are a part of our gene expression in our DNA. To be a little scientifical, gene expression can be altered throughout generations while the genetic code itself can remain unaltered. These changes can occur during development and can be passed down through generations. There has been some talk that some of these changes in gene expression can be linked to same-sex attraction.
If you ask someone who is LGBT+ if they chose to be that way, you may be met with a response along the lines of “Yes, I chose to live a path filled with discrimination.”
Are those who identify as LGBT+ a danger to children?
Simply, no. There is no evidence attached to the thinking that LGBT+ people may be a danger to children. It is this kind of thinking that continues the stigmatization of the community. If it is your preference as a parent to restrict anything relating to LGBT+ to your kids, that’s fine because that’s your parental choice. However, if you are restricting your children in fear that they will become gay, that’s just not how it works. Portraying LGBT+ people as dangerous to your children is offensive, inaccurate, and just damaging to those children figuring out their own sexual orientation or gender identity.
What kind of human rights violations are LGBT+ people exposed to?
There are a lot of human rights violations that people are subjected to on a daily basis, simply because of who they are. Across the world, there are active human rights violations occurring. For those who are a part of the LGBT+ community, some are physically attacked, some are kidnapped, some are sexually assaulted, some are murdered for who they love. There are some countries where same-sex relationships can result in jail or worse. There are violations that can be experienced in the workplace, out in public, in schools, at home, anywhere.
LGBT children will often be met with bullying, teasing at school because of their identity and it may not end at school; oftentimes the home life of these children are much tougher. It may get to the point that the LGBT child does not feel safe enough to go to school, and therefore cannot get the same education as all the other students. For those who identify as transgender, they may even be denied their identity papers for their process of changing their identity to their preferred identity.
There is a lot of work to be done as a society to avoid all of this!
Is it possible to change someones sexual orientation or gender identity?
Again, simply no. Someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity cannot be changed or altered. Conversion therapy has been disproven plenty of times, although some still believe in its supposed effectiveness. Conversion therapy is a human rights violation in of itself because of the severe trauma that can be inflicted. It is very uncommon to see conversion therapy around now, although it still is legal in some states. Also, I think a more important question that should be asked is why would one want to even change someone else's identity?
Like it was said in the beginning, there is nothing wrong with being curious about something! It is always better to ask questions rather than to just make up assumptions about something, no matter the subject area. You may have some other questions relating to the LGBT+ community, and my advice to you is to do your research! Doing your own research and learning is a great way to be well-informed, which in result may even help others become more informed.