HE SAID SHE SAID: The Courage of “Open and Out” LGBTQIA Members

Allison Dolzonek

More stories from Allison Dolzonek

Thoughts on Spring
February 25, 2016
HE SAID SHE SAID: The Courage of “Open and Out” LGBTQIA Members

Disclaimer: Mr. D’Angelo and I shared a darling lunchtime conversation before deciding to write this week’s edition of “He Said She Said” on the LGBTQIA community. Usually one of us will pick a topic and then we’ll both simply write away. We thought it best for this article, however, to sit down and really flesh out where our opinions on this matter diverge, considering we both find ourselves in support of constitutional marriage equality.

Author E.E. Cummings notably said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” In the author’s quote, we find the basis for understanding the importance, the crucial importance, of why it is necessary and proper (constitutional pun for all my polisci nerds out there) to identify the LGBTQIA community as a remarkably brave group of individuals.

Today’s population is, unfortunately, continually being held to societal norms and standards that dictate the ways in which we are meant to act in almost every single aspect of our lives: work, school, religion, and even our relationships. We are presented with these “normalcies” and standards through our media, the curriculum that is fed to us in our schools, popular culture, and the laws and regulations passed by our legislatures. We have been told, from our births, a set list of outright lies that shape our views on race and ethnicity, gender and sex, and our sexualities. We have been told that white is the standard. We have been told that heterosexuality is the standard. We have been told that men earning the greater wage in a household is the standard. We have been told these blatant lies in a disastrous and damaging attempt to organize and control the most random and uncontrollable circumstance of all: our lives. The thought of having no grasp or force over our own races, genders, and sexualities is admittedly quite terrifying—so we have categorized and labeled these variables of our existence, in a desperate reach to possess power where we have none.

So where does the bravery kick in? We are all, afterwards, held to these norms, not just the LGBTQIA community. Have you ever called or texted someone before attending a social gathering, to ask what he/she was planning on wearing, because you did not want to show up overdressed or underdressed? I bet you have. I have. We do this because we are terrified of falling out of line with a social code and of being deemed “atypical.” We do this in order to fit a norm, to match a standard, to feel like we belong. This fear of not matching a dress code at a social function, is how people who fall outside of these societally constructed standards constantly feel. And why shouldn’t they? There is little to no LGBTQIA representation in popular culture, our legislatures are still fighting to keep the LGBTQIA community labeled as second-class citizens through denying them discrimination protections, as much as 40 percent of the homeless youth is comprised of LGBTQIA members, and you can still hear ignorant morons scream, “that’s so gay!” on just about any college campus. We’ve constructed these norms so soundly and on such a solid foundation (a foundation of total garbage, but whatever) that people in the LGBTQIA community even find more peace in taking their own lives than living outside of this fake world we have crafted.

We have been lied to all of our lives; we have been told that certain human beings (HUMANS) are not normal. So Hell. Yes: the LGBTQIA community is brave, unbelievably and overwhelmingly brave.  Because in spite of years of society telling them that they are not normal, that they are outliers and exceptions to the rule, they stand up and dare to exist against the grain, while the rest of the country has the privilege of being able to blend into the background without consequence or without being forced to deny their real selves.

And as far as I’m concerned, the “I don’t care who you love, but keep it to yourself” mentality is just as damaging as overt homophobia and bigotry. Because by the simple nature of demanding that someone keep his/her love life a secret, you are claiming that their sexual identity and their love has no place within society. This is why LGBTQIA pride parades and festivals are so important, necessary, brave, and beautiful. They are a validation to an entire demographic of people, a screaming statement that they are real and that they are normal and that they are loved.

So do not look at me and tell me that LGBTQIA members do not deserve awards for their efforts and successes, or should keep their lives to themselves. Do not look at me and tell me that LGBTQIA members are not wildly brave. Because in the midst of one of the most standardized and normalized societies to ever exist, this community so perfectly exemplifies the unparalleled courage it takes to be who you really are.