Do things really get better, or do they just change? That is the question I have been asking myself lately. For some of us, things didn't really get better as much as things just changed.
As I read stories of individuals who were bullied when they were younger, I can relate, because I too was bullied when I was younger. I was bullied because I was smart, quiet and a good kid. It wasn't until high school that the teasing for being gay came about. I went through my youth with few, if any, friends.
I couldn't wait to leave for college and reinvent myself. Well, I left and began that reinvention, but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, because it was at that time that I started to realize that I am gay. So instead of reinventing myself, I spent years fighting who I am.
When I finally accepted that I am gay, I was so excited to embrace this next phase of my life. Finally my life would change for the better. Well, it only changed, and not necessarily for the better. It didn't get worse, but it felt like high school all over again, and that was a time of my life that I did not enjoy.
You see, as much as we want to rally against bullying as a community, we don't see what is happening within our community. We have traded one set of bullies for another: us. Now, some of you reading this may think that I'm being a little harsh, but if you stop and think about it, you will begin to see what I mean.
Yes, society in general is broken into subcultures, each with its own characteristics that unite the individuals who identify with that subculture. And yes, not all of these subcultures interact with or even know about the others. However, the LGBTQ community is a lot smaller than larger society, so the subcultures within the LGBTQ community are much more aware of one another and do interact frequently because of limited areas for socialization, or, more recently, because of our shared fight for equality.
But once you remove that fight for equality, for instance, the bullying between groups within the LGBT community becomes apparent. Now, this bullying is not the same as the bullying that some of us experienced when we were younger. This form of bullying doesn't consist of being beaten up, shoved while walking down hallways or even teased. Now it is subtler, like not being invited to events, not having messages returned or receiving thinly veiled insults on Facebook.
The bullying that exists in the LGBTQ community is centered on things like body type, social status, how much money you have or where you live. Yes, youth bullying can be based on the same things, but you would think that because the majority of us were bullied when we were younger, we would have grown past it. Sadly we have not.
I'm not naïve enough to believe that just because we all happen to be LGBTQ, we should hold hands and sing "Kumbaya," but is it really too much to ask for us to just accept one another for who we are? Isn't this what we are demanding from society as a whole? Why aren't we capable of doing it within in our own community?
Yes, we all want to surround ourselves with people we enjoy, and I respect that. However, we shouldn't exclude people because they don't fit certain criteria. People should be judged on who they are, not on what they have or how they look or where they shop. These criteria are childish and should be left in our past, where they belong.
The only way we are going to obtain equality as a community is by treating each other as equals, and with the respect that everyone deserves.
This blog post originally appeared on Diary of a Drag Queen's Husband.
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