Pride month is one of those times when we need to focus on acceptance and tolerance. Celebrating each others’ differences and preferences, accepting ourselves when we feel our identity may not be the “standard,” and tolerance when someone’s identity is outside your beliefs. Just like skin color, the amount of money you have, your mental struggles-- your sexual, romantic, and/or gender identity is not something you can control, and nor does it hurt or affect those around you. It is something that is a part of who someone is, and should not be discriminated against. No one should fear for their life or job due to loving someone of the same gender or feeling that they were born in the wrong body.
A topic I hear brought up by well-meaning individuals with regard to the specific overlap between the autism spectrum and the LGBT+ spectrum is whether the autistic person is “copying” or “picking up” social behaviors in order to blend in, or mask. One of the blogs from last year discussed how the idea of masking autism can come up due to the ability to mimic or mirror certain behaviors. Personally, I feel this is a bigger topic. There are definitely cases of (most often) kids under 18 struggling with their identity. I know at least two people who in middle or high school came out as gay or transgender and after high school, later came out again as straight or cis. I do not feel this is an issue of autism, though it can make it more likely, but that when people are young and finding out who they are and why they have these feelings and going through puberty, they make the wrong assumption. However, this is only a portion of the overall population, and does not serve to invalidate those who truly feel that this is who they are. Being a part of the LGBT+ community is NOT a choice, not an identity people try on and discard for fun or to make a statement. It is something that can be immediately known from four or five years old, or can take decades to work out and be comfortable with. It is something that can cause deep anxiety, self hatred, comfortability, and depression. It is a real part of how a large portion of the population’s brains are wired. I have anxiety, I have depression, I am intelligent in topics of English and History, but have challenges with math, and I am bisexual. My brain is wired this way, has been wired this way my whole life. I did not wake up one day and say “hey, I really want to be like Johnny, so I’m going to be gay now!”
Here’s the thing--you do not have to religiously, politically, or ideologically agree with a person’s sexual or gender identity. You don’t have to understand exactly how they feel; how someone will never have a sexual attraction to someone, or that they feel disconnected from either gender. It is very hard to understand if you are not a part of it. But, as a human being, you have a duty to show a basic level of respect for other people and to use tolerance and the social fake. If a friend told you they prefer she/her pronouns, you need to use them, at the very least around them. Pray for their soul if you feel it necessary, but on your own time. Just the same as around the election, where many people disagreed with each other, it was not okay to harass, assault, bully, or disrespect someone for who they voted for (or race, weight, disability, money, etc), it is not okay to do so here because of someone’s gender identity. Differences can be hard, but they also can be beautiful.
Most common terms and definitions:
Gay/Lesbian: Liking the same gender (man and man, woman and woman).
Bisexual/Pansexual: (Liking “both” genders or being open to a relationship with anyone, regardless of gender identity).
Asexual/Ace/Aromatic: Not having a physical/sexual attraction towards anyone, and/or not having romantic attraction to anyone.
Transgender: Feeling that you were born in the wrong body, have body dysmorphia, and see yourself as the opposite gender.
Nonbinary/Agender: Feeling that you do not fit in with either the “female” or “male” genders (use they/them pronouns), or that your gender and potential body dysmorphia attributed to your birth-sex changes and is fluid.
Cis: You feel that your gender assigned at birth is your correct gender.
Straight: Heterosexual, liking the opposite gender.
The official acronym as to not leave anyone out, including the indigenous communities and questioning individuals! “LGBTQQIP2SAA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous and asexual.” -BBC
Written by Katy Evans