I have been reading the news online much more over the last couple of years (haven’t we all!) and it’s interesting to see that the same news story is often reported entirely differently between the news websites, even to the point of the same story being reported with a positive spin on one, and a negative spin on the other.
As someone who is a cis-gendered heterosexual and therefore not LGBTQIA+, I’ve been reading with interest Ellen’s three blogs, all of which are written from her own perspective as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I must admit to being a bit confused over the years about the acronyms. I felt a little unsure about what to use, not wanting to use an outdated term or the wrong term altogether.
Like Ellen, I remember the LGB groups at college. I understood lesbian/gay/bisexual, but as the acronym expanded to be more inclusive my understanding became more vague. Fortunately, I have a few LGBTQIA+ friends who enlightened me, and I do make a point of educating myself. I feel it’s the least I can do to make sure I am using terms and descriptions which people are comfortable with, and that it shows that I am coming from a place of friendship and acceptance.
However, I do know that many people don’t educate themselves and don’t have friends or family who are LGBTQIA+ (or perhaps they do but are not aware). This is a tricky place to be in because it does not take much to slip from being ignorant to being prejudiced. Used without care, the internet can be a place to find and nurture homophobic and prejudiced views, sometimes under the guise of ‘reputable websites’.
Just like the news stories mentioned above, it is all too easy to read and believe negative news stories and public comments about people who are LGBTQIA+, and unfortunately many people are influenced by them, stoking an undercurrent of stereotyping and prejudice which makes LGBTQIA+ people feel hurt, intimidated and discriminated against.
Ellen’s blogs highlight the experiences that LGBTQIA+ people have in other countries where in some cases their sexual orientation is considered illegal.
She also gives an insight into how LGBTQIA+ artists through modern history and up to the present day have expressed themselves and the struggles they faced through their art. I discovered some new acronyms in the ‘Alphabet Soup’ blog and it really brought home to me how important it is that every individual has the right to express how they wish to be known to the world.
So, what I’ve taken away from our series of blogs is that the most important thing for cis-gendered heterosexuals (ie. those who fall outside of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum) is to LISTEN to valid sources of information, ie. from people in the LGBTQIA+ community themselves. Listen to the experiences they have had as a community over the years and in different countries. And also to listen to what each person wants in terms of ‘labels’, pronouns, and so on. It’s a way to show respect and acknowledge individuality and forge peace and harmony in our world.
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