Gate-Keeping, the Internal Struggle Within the LGBTQ+ Community

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Bigotry, by any other name, still smells like shit.

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

As a community, LGBTQ+ people have faced dehumanizing bigotry throughout history. We have been denied basic human rights, forced out of jobs, murdered, sexually assaulted, and harassed on the basis of our sexuality or gender presentation since before our history began to be written. Many of our first memories regarding our sexuality or gender are traumatic. We’ve fought like hell to get some semblance of human rights, the same ones that cisgender, heterosexual people take for granted daily. The traumatic history the LGBTQ+ community shares should bind us together. So why are we fighting from within?

I was called homophobic this week, and told that I whined too much about the treatment of bisexual people within the LGBTQ+ community. Can LGBTQ+ people be homophobic? Absolutely. Was my action homophobic? I don’t believe so. I wrote about “Gold Star” culture, and how the air of superiority regarding someones sexual history is a form of bigotry. Do I believe that someone who has only slept with the same gender is less than? Absolutely not. In that same regard, I am not less than for sleeping with both my gender, and genders other than mine. I am not superior, but I’m sure as hell not inferior to anyone either. Standing up for my representation and equal treatment as a bisexual person is not a homophobic action. I am equal to you. My place within this community is just as valid as yours, you’ll have to try harder than name-calling to quiet my voice.

No one within the LGBTQ+ community is worth more than another. Being white, wealthy, and conforming to gender standards does not make you a better person in any regard. Using your privilege to gate-keep others out of a safe haven that you benefit from though? That is unethical on the most basic of levels. When those of us within the community mimic the actions of those that have discriminated against us, we are perpetuating a system that harms us all. When we exclude transgender people for not transitioning in a way that is personally acceptable to us, we show those outside our community how to treat us when we diverge from the standard. When we erase the existence of bisexual people in our community, we lose voices and power — letting those outside our community we can be silenced. When we exclude people of color, and listen only to white voices we are burning libraries of LGBTQ+ history and breaking the legs of its future. Gate-keeping shows those who would oppress us our weakness. It gives the bigots outside our community the strength to defeat us because we are no longer a united family.

We cannot continue this tradition of gate-keeping, of excluding those in our community we deem less than us. There are enough human rights for all of us, there is no need to ration them like bread in damned war zone. We can all exist. The rights we’ve won are being challenged with every step that the current American government makes, and we are making it easy for them to come for us. We have to stand together or we won’t survive the backlash of our success. The most conservative Supreme Court in my lifetime is currently deciding whether or not we can be fired for being LGBTQ+. Instead of rioting like our forefolks, we are ripping our family apart and sleeping in separate beds, distracted from the fact that our goddamn house is being set on fire by modern day fascists.

I believe in our community. I know that the gate-keeping often times comes from a place of deep hurt, a re-creation of sorts of the offenders own history of trauma. It doesn’t make gate-keeping any less unacceptable, and the divide that it creates within our LGBTQ+ family is immense, regardless of the source of the original pain. It’s imperative that those that gate-keep recognize that the pain of discrimination cannot be lessened by handing it off to another, it will only be magnified. Only with empathy and respect for all paths in our community, will we step forward on our path to equality. It’s the only way we win this fight.

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