If you were to ask the majority of gay people in the country what our biggest struggle is as a community they would most likely say legalizing same sex marriage. It’s a fair thing to be preoccupied with, especially when you take into account that most LGBTQ+ struggles go unnoticed and undocumented by society as a whole. Whenever television or film touch upon gay issues they almost always do so in the context of gay marriage or bullying and it certainly doesn’t help that gay white cisgender males are the most widely prevalent across those platforms; with LGBTQ+ media and culture being dictated by such a small representative group, it becomes difficult to keep in mind what the true issues are.
For those of you who have never met me, I feel that it is important that I disclose some important information about myself. I am a gay white male from a middle class family; in fact, the town I’m from is 95% white. I have attended private school since the age of 10 and despite a few rough patches I have been wholeheartedly embraced for who I am. Yes, I was bullied in middle school for being different and yes, I have been called “FAG!” more than once in my life, but for the most part I have been extremely privileged in my life.
As someone who is extraordinarily lucky, I have to remind myself that my LGBTQ+ experience is not the only one. I think it’s incredibly important to remind oneself of that because if you don’t you run the risk of becoming desensitized and oblivious to the struggles of others. I think this is something that has happened to some of the gay white cisgender males of the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve been so privileged that we are unable to recognize the bigger struggles or the hypocrisies that arise when a gay person is supportive of one faction of the community and disapproving of another.
I know far too many white gay cisgender males (I’m going to call them WGCM’s from here on out because I don’t feel like typing that shit out) who think gay marriage is the one and only priority for the LGBTQ+ community. Coming from privileged backgrounds, they don’t know that a staggering amount of LGBTQ+ youth are homeless and out on the streets. WGCM’s don’t know how frequently Trans* people of color are attacked or discriminated because of who they are, nor do they even fully recognize the “B” or “T” of the community. And what I’ve found is that people who invent victim complexes can convince themselves that they don’t need to be empathetic toward other groups. A gay guy who was bullied in sixth grade for being gay can become so consumed by that poor treatment he faced that he doesn’t recognize that in the grand scheme of things his suffering pales in comparison to what others have faced.
WGCM’s, myself included, need to wake up and snap out of their Piper Chapman style outlook on life. They have to realize that while gay marriage is important it’s not the only thing worth fighting for. They have to realize that supporting gay marriage does not equate to being an advocate; in fact, a gay person wanting gay marriage to be legalized is not progressive but rather self-interested, which isn’t a bad thing. A true advocate of the LGBTQ+ community is a person who can see the bigger picture and understand that each letter in the acronym is deserving of equality and respect. So if you’re dismissive or transphobic you need to realize that you’re not an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community, you’re simply a self-absorbed person who happens to have same sex inklings. Just like it takes more than DNA to be a parent, it takes more than sexuality to be a true member of the LGBTQ+ community.