Art featured by Olly Kava
With an increase in the number of people who have been coming out in recent years and their visibility, LGBTQ+ members all around the world have been starting to feel more welcome in the world than ever. Such that, they have become a community of their own.
However, in a community, especially within one that has been created for those going through the unacceptance of society, you would expect to feel safe and valid. When no one is there for you, they should be, and when you feel like you don’t have a ”home”, that community should feel like one.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case all the time.
In fact, when people try to come out, they are not only afraid of the disapproval of their loved ones but also of being left out by the same community they searched hope in, whether it is because of their experiences up until coming out, their pronouns, -or their labels.
The thing I encounter nowadays is that some members of the LGBTQ+ community do not acknowledge some of the labels: frequently those being bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual or polysexual. The main reason behind this is the thought that if one of them is valid, then the rest is automatically not, therefore it is an insult to their own identity, which is not true at all.
When the main purpose is for people to support and be there for each other, some tend to do the opposite: tearing the safe space queer people created, in order to ”protect” their own identity. The claim that is often being made is that they can’t all exist at the same time. Pansexuality is not real, you’re actually bisexual but you don’t want to admit it is sadly a common thing I have been hearing lately.
Moreover, those saying you just come up with new terms in order to hide your biphobia don’t realize that actually, every word is something humans came up with, as well as all the within the LGBTQ+ community. Humans are the ones to create words. Just as all words exist for us to communicate with each other— labels are there to explain ourselves a little bit better, to tell a bit about who we are.
Bi, pan, omni and polysexuality all have their own descriptions. They have common points to each other, even so they’re not exactly the same things. Rather than the invalidation of an identity, those labels exist so that individuals who feel they don’t fit into one, can feel more like themselves in another. They can and do co-exist.
Hence, the reason for the usage of all those similar identities is because they are in need of use. They broadly overlap but the distinction matters to some people and that’s okay.
It is also very disrespectful to tell someone they cannot identify with a specific term since how they explain themselves fits another one in your opinion. The tricky wording here is ”in your opinion”. If someone doesn’t try to invalidate you on purpose, which orientation they identify with has nothing to do with you. Trying to convince someone to identify with something they don’t feel comfortable with has many harmful effects, and it is the same thing homophobes have been doing for decades.
We pick up labels and terms to make ourselves feel safer in our own skin and mind, to be able to say ”There is a word for how I feel’’. There is joy in finding other people identifying themselves the same way you do.
And actually, that is what this community is about: communicating with others who’ve been through similar things, who felt bad about themselves at some point in their lives like you did, having someone around to share each other’s feelings, and being understood.
They are not mandatory but if people feel the need to use a word that makes them feel safer and better about themselves, let them use it. Let them be happy with who they are.
A day may come where LGBTQ+ members are valid in the whole world and the distinction between straight and not doesn’t matter anymore, thus no one is in need of being accepted; but until that they, let people identify as whatever they want.