Tag Archives: LGBTQ+

Stop Targeting LGBTQ+

In a small town in the Midwest, a ninth grader named “Sally” came out to his parents as transgender. He was born with a body people assumed was female, and with the gender identity of a boy. He was anxious when he told his parents, but they were supportive. They figured it out together, every step of the way. His confidence grew. For the first time, he felt steady, knowing he belonged in his own skin. He liked his name, which was part of his identity, but chose to shorten “Sally” to “Sal.” He felt validated every time he heard “him” or “he” tossed in his direction.

In a rural farming area of South Carolina, a 13-year-old boy named “Lisa” put on a dress to go to school. Lisa knows he’s a boy, but nobody else does. He goes to church every Sunday and prays to wake up in a world where everyone understands his gender and supports him as a boy. He spends every day confused, scared, off balance, hiding his core self. Recently, bullies have targeted him. He dreads going to school, going home, going to church. Nowhere feels safe.

In Maine, an 8th-grade boy named Phil pulls on jeans and his favorite sweatshirt. He’s cisgender and straight. Recently, he grew four inches and isn’t yet comfortable with his new height. It hasn’t crossed his mind to be uncomfortable with his gender identity or his sexuality, and he’s too young to understand his inherent privilege. His best friend since kindergarten, Jeremy, came out as gay last weekend as they sipped soda, watching a movie in Phil’s den. Phil told Jeremy it was “cool,” as they devoured popcorn and hot dogs. Phil asked Jeremy if he told his parents; Jeremy said it was “awkward, but they were okay about it.” Then they talked about a matter of huge import. Phil has a crush on Pamela. Jeremy has a crush on Jon. Miraculously, both were assigned to work on a science project with their secret objects of desire. Neither could muster the courage to talk about anything personal to Pamela and Jon, so now they brainstormed ways to broaden the conversation. Finally, they concluded that was too much, too fast. Maybe, possibly, they could get ice cream together after school, to talk about their science projects. Probably not, but they could dream.

Sal’s biggest worry when he transitioned was losing his friends. But his social group, a mixture of boys and girls, accepted him as the same person they had known since kindergarten. Some other students whispered, but they followed his friends’ example and faster than Sal had hoped, it was no big deal. The teachers and administrators were aware of Sal’s transition, and were ready to protect him if necessary. The only “necessary” turned out to be a handful of alarmed parents, who met with the principal, who calmed them down.

Lisa’s biggest worry…well, he has many big worries. He worries his secret will be discovered. He worries he’ll go to Hell. He worries his parents will hate him. His loneliness is searing. He goes through his day, hiding in plain sight, always afraid.

Phil and Jeremy strategized, and decided to face their challenge together. They debated, brainstormed, and hatched a plan. After school, in a stroke of spectacular luck, the two friends walked out of their last class with their lab partners. Phil (as planned) said to Jeremy, “Wanna get ice cream?” Jeremy (as planned) answered, “Sure.” Then as though the idea just struck, Phil turned to Pamela and Jon and asked, “You guys want some, too?” Everyone agreed. They walked together, talking about their teachers and the morning assembly. Then something amazing happened. It turned out Phil and Pamela both liked chocolate ice cream best, while Jeremy and Jon preferred mint chip. Their bonds were established, and everyone smiled shyly. Phil and Jeremy exchanged incredulous glances. Dreams really can come true.

The gender spectrum is complex, nuanced and layered — just like the spectrum of any aspect of being human. Sal’s parents provided a strong role model for helping their son deal with identity issues — gender or otherwise. They listened as Sal explained his gender and at the same time, they remained sensitive to him as a whole person, responsive to the many facets of his coalescing identity. They were caring, supportive, loving. Jeremy found support from both his family and best friend, which helped him move forward with healthy adolescent development. Lisa, alone and unsupported, will have a much more jagged path.

The Trump Era has catapulted the United States into an un-united state. Many people seem to believe that LGBTQ+ children and adolescents are fundamentally different from cis straight children and adolescents. These people have lost track of the common ground that everyone shares. All kids and adolescents — and I mean ALL — need to feel safe physically and emotionally. They all need acceptance and support. They all need their core selves validated and respected. They all need love.

And let’s keep in mind that some of the finest words in the English language have no specified gender, no particular sexuality — which makes them every gender and every sexuality. Parent. Child. Adolescent. Teacher. Principal. Supporter. Friend.

Ice cream.

*All identifying information in this essay has been changed.

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Pride Month And Ally Support

Welcome to Pride Month! 

I feel tremendous joy and gratitude about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to my personal world and beyond. At the same time, I’m acutely aware that we’re living in a strange and dangerous time. Too many are openly hostile toward the LGBTQ+ community — a hostility sanctioned, endorsed and perpetuated by our country’s previous administration. As Pride Month begins, I’m thinking about the meaning of being a straight, cisgender ally as my country takes its early steps to emerge from the Trump era.  

Entering LGBTQ+ Pride Month, I pledge to treat every month as Pride Month.

While resistance against bigotry is vital, I fully celebrate Pride Month, because the heart and soul of Pride have nothing to do with Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or any of their followers. 

As I celebrate, I’ll respect that Pride Month is not about me or for me. It’s my moment to support others, and their moment to shine.

I offer equal support to those who are completely out, partially out and not out. For those who don’t feel safe coming out, please know that even if we’ve never met, I’m a part of your safe zone of acceptance.

If I see anyone being bullied, I’ll step in. If I’m afraid, I’ll still step in.

I’ll honor the people whose lives have been stolen, with the black trans population at particularly high risk.

I’ll continue to write my resistance against the policies that target people for being themselves, the values that threaten the rights that should be inalienable.

I’ll welcome people who want to become allies, but don’t know how. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to reach out. There’s a place for you.

I’ll remain open to learning. Through the past few years, I’ve become comfortable with the singular pronoun “they.” I’ve expanded my definition of “gender identity” to be much more inclusive. I’ve let go of what I now consider a rigid definition of a “female body” or a “male body.” A body is a body, and how each person defines his/her/their relationship to that body is highly individualized. I no longer view “male anatomy” as strictly male, or “female anatomy” as strictly female. The person owns the body and defines the body, including the gender of the body. I’ve learned to make no assumptions about gender identity based on appearance; I offer my own pronouns, ask for people’s pronouns, and accept without judgment. I’m ready to learn more, and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way.

If I make a mistake, I’ll apologize. I’ll try to do better. 

I’ll ask questions, starting now: Anyone of any gender and any sexuality — do you want to add something that I’ve missed? Feel free to comment.

Finally — to everyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I see you and accept you. You enrich our world every day. And to my LGBTQ+ friends — I can’t imagine my life without you. 

Happy Pride Month! 

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Filed under Ally Support, LGBT, LGBT Pride Month, Uncategorized


I never realized how crucial awkwardness was to being a true LGBTQ+ ally. The pronoun they changed my mind. They has evolved beyond plural, into a singular pronoun for an individual with a non-binary gender identity. For some folks, they works well, while she or he doesn’t. But the word they, used in this way, seems to cause discomfort. I’ve heard many complaints and (in my admittedly limited experience) these are the most common.

The grammar is wrong.

Let’s weigh this issue on the scales of social justice. On one side, let’s place the weight of the traditional Rules of Grammar. On the other side, let’s place a language evolving to match a deeper understanding of the gender identity spectrum. C’mon — although life often presents us with close calls, this isn’t one of them.

I can’t get used to it.

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who likes classic movies while you prefer sports events, and you get used to it? Have you ever been diagnosed with an allergy, and you can no longer eat your favorite foods, and you get used to it? How about having kids — that’s an average of an adjustment every 10 minutes, for 18 years, and you get used to it. And now you’re saying you can’t get used to a new definition of a pronoun. Really.

It’s not proper English.

Language is continuously evolving. Language — like life — is a dynamic process, not a static state of immobility. And yeah, that even applies to pronouns.

It’s awkward.

I agree, I feel awkward, and I’m still learning how to use they as a singular pronoun in a sentence. But this isn’t about my awkwardness. Actually, this isn’t about me at all. It’s about expanding language, stretching words to match a spectrum of gender identity that wasn’t fully articulated until now. Healthy growing and healthy stretching are often awkward, so maybe feeling awkward is a sign that we’re on a healthy track.

When I’m comfortable, it’s easy to be an ally. However, when I feel awkward, I’ve found that I can turn to the LGBTQ+ community for help. Without fail, 100% of the time, my LGBTQ+ friends have answered my questions with respect. They’ve supported my need to learn, never once disparaging the gaps in my knowledge. If I’ve said I’m uncomfortable but want to grow comfortable, they’ve reached out.

I’ve never formally studied linguistics, but They has shown me how a word can serve as a catalyst, expanding language to promote values of equality. They has also enriched my personal growth, adding another dimension to my definition of myself as an ally. Now, I think LGBTQ+  ally support includes a willingness to stand awkward. Feeling awkward no longer seems negative. Actually, I’m growing more comfortable every day, as I embrace my own awkwardness.

Thank you, They.

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Filed under LGBT, non-binary, social justice, They, Them, Their, Uncategorized