27 votes

How rigid/fluid is your gender and/or sexuality?

The following questions are aimed at gender identity, gender expression, romantic orientation, and/or sexual orientation. To cut down on wordiness, all the questions below will just say "identity", but know that I'm asking about any and all of the different parts that make up our gendered, romantic, and sexual selves.

You don't necessarily need to answer regarding all axes or focuses: choose the ones most salient or meaningful to you and your experiences. Furthermore, these questions are open to all, including people who don't identify as LGBT.

  • How would you describe the rigidity/fluidity of your identity or its different parts?
  • Do you experience short-term changes in your identity?
  • Have you experienced long-term changes in your identity?
  • Does your identity have any elements that are unchanging long-term?
  • How does the fluidity/rigidity of your identity affect you? Are there advantages? Disadvantages?
  • Are you certain in your identity right now, or is it unclear to you at the moment?
  • If you are certain, do you think that certainty will persist, or might things change in the future?
  • If you are uncertain, do you think a more definite identity will coalesce for you at some point?

As always, the questions are just jumping off points and don't need to be treated like a quiz. Also, just to be clear, I am asking this purely out of curiosity and am in no way trying to assert that a more rigid/fluid identity is better/worse. Likewise, I'm not trying to cast judgment on anyone still questioning or engaging in self-discovery. Your process and your identity are valid wherever you're at and however you feel. I'm simply interested to hear what your experiences are, whoever you are.

49 comments

  1. [7]
    Whom
    Link
    Gender: Rather rigid, if I'm honest. I had a period where I flirted with gender fluidity years ago, but if I'm honest about it, I think that was just easier for me to accept for a moment and I...

    Gender:

    Rather rigid, if I'm honest. I had a period where I flirted with gender fluidity years ago, but if I'm honest about it, I think that was just easier for me to accept for a moment and I quickly moved beyond it (note that I am not implying that this is the case for others, just myself). In all the time since then, validation has come from reinforcement of my womanhood. I won't say that I've always felt like a woman in that time, as dysphoria fucks that up, but the time where I haven't felt like a woman have been shitty times born from dysphoria and general distress, not indications of fluctuation.

    What femininity means to me is in in flux, of course, but that's true even for the cissiest cis woman there is.

    I really don't expect this to change much. It's been interesting to me just how comfortable I've become with how I label and describe myself. I don't even get the anxiety over names which cause a lot of trans people to name-hop a few times. It's all very cozy to me, and I feel like the way forward is as obvious as it gets for us.

    Sexuality:

    A bit more movement here. I'm pretty solidly a lesbian, but I think sexuality is a much harder thing to pin down. Gender is something that I can uncover by looking into myself and learning from it. Sexuality, on the other hand, requires external input. It's how I react to other people and describing those reactions based on how they describe themselves. Even ideally, that's a slippery thing that can't possibly be judged without seeing and responding to every person on Earth. In reality, it's even worse because I don't fucking know the gender of the vast majority of people I see. Throw NB people in there, and it gets more complicated. I could say I like "femininely aligned" nonbinary people or an equivalent term, and while that may include a lot of the people who I want it to, it doesn't account for nonbinary people who aren't on that spectrum at all or even reject gender. I'm sure I'm attracted to plenty of people like that! You also sure can't reduce it to bodies, because there's tons of people I'm into regardless of what they were assigned at birth. That's hardly even a consideration for me (though I did take up the "don't kiss the cis" attitude at some point, that has nothing to do with who I'm attracted to).

    I don't really think that strict sexuality as we typically think about it can exist. Yet I'm deeply attached to being a lesbian and feel like it's a core part of who I am. It's the right word that gets at the right thing, even if that's lost in the way we define it. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I am a lesbian because I'm attracted to femininity where I see it. This gets a little touchy because it's about how I read others, not what's truly in them. This goes beyond the physical, but it's still something that I'm applying to another person in a way that could possibly distress them. I may be attracted to the femininity I see in someone who wants nothing to do with anything remotely feminine. That's why I have to separate attraction from who I would be romantically / sexually involved with. If I'm attracted to the femininity that I see in someone who has none of it in them, I don't think it's right for me to be with that person. I don't think it would be fair to them at all for me to cling onto a part of them (or what I see as a part of them) which they want to purge or which they know didn't exist in the first place. So that effectively limits my romantic partners to women and others who align themselves with femininity. Gay enough for me.

    15 votes
    1. [5]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      This line surprises me. Surely we can assume that, for the vast majority of people in the world, a male-presenting person is a man and a female-presenting person is a female. Transgender people...

      I don't fucking know the gender of the vast majority of people I see.

      This line surprises me. Surely we can assume that, for the vast majority of people in the world, a male-presenting person is a man and a female-presenting person is a female. Transgender people make up such a small percentage of the population that, for over 90% of the population, we can safely assume that what we see is what we get.

      What do you see differently?

      12 votes
      1. [4]
        Whom
        Link Parent
        It's not that, if I made a guess, I would be wrong the vast majority of the time...it's that the only people I can be certain about are those who mention it to me. And even then, not always. I'm...

        It's not that, if I made a guess, I would be wrong the vast majority of the time...it's that the only people I can be certain about are those who mention it to me. And even then, not always. I'm referring to the constant uncertainty that comes from that. I think that and other complications make it so most people have been unknowingly attracted to people of all genders at some point. The rest of my post is trying to wrestle out how it still makes sense to call myself a lesbian when things are that messy and uncertain.


        I recognize "I'm almost always into x gender" or "I am always into x gender when I do know" is good enough for most people to describe themselves, but that isn't satisfying for me personally. I feel a need to account for the exceptions while also using what feels right.

        10 votes
        1. [3]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          Okay. As long as that works for you. I'm different. If I see someone who looks masculine, I'll default to assuming they're a man until told otherwise. I'm not going to go through life checking...

          It's not that, if I made a guess, I would be wrong the vast majority of the time...it's that the only people I can be certain about are those who mention it to me.

          Okay. As long as that works for you.

          I'm different. If I see someone who looks masculine, I'll default to assuming they're a man until told otherwise. I'm not going to go through life checking everyone's gender. "Excuse me. Yes, you with the short hair and the full beard and wearing men's clothing and men's shoes. Are you a man?" If they're presenting as masculine, I assume they want to be taken as a man.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            vivaria
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I can't speak for @Whom, but for strangers, I've found it useful to challenge any association I instinctively make between outward appearance and inward personalities. I try to treat everyone new...

            If they're presenting as masculine, I assume they want to be taken as a man.

            I can't speak for @Whom, but for strangers, I've found it useful to challenge any association I instinctively make between outward appearance and inward personalities. I try to treat everyone new as a blank slate in all regards until I get to know them bit by bit.

            I'm not going to go through life checking everyone's gender.

            The distinction between <strangers: no assumptions, open mind> and <acquaintances/friends/loved ones: personalized treatment> is what makes it not really necessary to check for everyone. If my default is neutrality (even just by, say, building the habit of using they/them as a default), then there's not much more I need to do on my part. It's only necessary to do more if it becomes clear that they'd prefer something more tailored to their personality (which doesn't happen with 99% of the people I encounter as I go about my day).

            7 votes
            1. Whom
              Link Parent
              I agree with this wrt where Algernon was going, but I just want to clarify that this isn't quite what I was trying to get at. Like, regardless of what I assume the gender of the average person is,...

              I agree with this wrt where Algernon was going, but I just want to clarify that this isn't quite what I was trying to get at.

              Like, regardless of what I assume the gender of the average person is, chances are I've been wrong. I've probably been into people who I thought were women but were not. I just felt the need to address those times instead of ignoring them. I wasn't really trying to say anything about what we should assume or how we should read people.

              4 votes
    2. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      This was a wonderful response. Thank you for your honesty. This captures exactly how I feel too. When "gay" became my identity, it was like a life ring that had been thrown to me as I was...

      This was a wonderful response. Thank you for your honesty.

      I don't really think that strict sexuality as we typically think about it can exist. Yet I'm deeply attached to being a lesbian and feel like it's a core part of who I am. It's the right word that gets at the right thing, even if that's lost in the way we define it.

      This captures exactly how I feel too. When "gay" became my identity, it was like a life ring that had been thrown to me as I was drowning, and I held onto it for dear life. It worked, and it worked better than anything else ever had to help me understand who I was.

      Unfortunately, like you identified, it's also really clunky. You highlighted the idea that there's an indeterminate part of it based on our targets of interest, but there's also a baffling part too on our own side: our own genders are coded into the word. I definitely get how this can be a comfort to some, but it's left me merely scratching my head for a long time now. A hypothetical straight woman interested in exactly the same people as me would use a different word to describe the alignment of her attractions than I would. It makes no sense to me! We are interested in exactly the same people!

      Identifying as "queer" has never resonated internally with me the way that gay did. I didn't get that sense of identity frission that I did with "gay", but it also felt more right externally, because it didn't make presumptions about how I identified or the identities of who I was interested in. Gay, to this day, feels like who I am inside, while queer feels like who I am in the world at large, if that makes sense?

      Finally, with regard to your last point about how the identity of the person matters, I definitely understand that, and think it's a very valid concern. In fact, I wish more people thought the way you do. I get flack from my gay friends for this all the time, but it is very difficult for me to find straight men attractive (none of them seem to have this problem). It feels very invasive and presumptuous for me to even mentally put a guy in the box labeled "interest" knowing that the possibility of reciprocative romantic interest is impossible for them. It doesn't mean I'm blind to an attractive straight guy -- only that his appearance exists at a level of acknowledgement and nothing more.

      6 votes
  2. CALICO
    Link
    I am rigid in my amorphicity, and I identify as a set of conflicting convictions: My gender does not exist. I am a consciousness trapped in a prison of meat and bone. I have no pronouns, please do...

    I am rigid in my amorphicity, and I identify as a set of conflicting convictions:

    • My gender does not exist. I am a consciousness trapped in a prison of meat and bone. I have no pronouns, please do not refer to me.
    • I am distressed that my prison is shaped like a man.

    I have a personal dislike for labels, but that's dysphoria, and puts me on the trans spectrum. When I look inside myself and ask if I feel like I'm a man, or a woman, the answer is that I feel sad. I maintain that I lack a gender identity, and have trouble grappling with the concept on a personal level. It ought not matter what this flesh-mech I pilot around is shaped like, and yet I wish it were the opposite of what it is. What I see in the mirror is not a body I personally identify with. All my trans friends IRL had the gender dysphoria along with the body dysmorphia. It doesn't really matter whether there's a specific label that applies to me—I am that I am—but it certainly seems to be... atypical.

    That's pretty well rigid, ever since I recognized my feelings for what they were a number of years ago. It's as rigid as my conviction to not transition, unless and until a hypothetical technology exists to drastically alter this body from the skeleton-up.

    [Activate insecure defensive mode] The body I drive around is a conventionally attractive, hippie-lumberjack type model. I don't find that it hinders my personal relationships, or my relationship with the world. It works. It's fine™. But it's of the size, and shape, and nature such that modern methods of transitioning would not only be not enough to pass, but not enough to make the body I see in the mirror match the body I see in my mind. This is important to me; my level of dysphoria makes me sad, but it isn't to the degree that I'm a danger to myself. Perhaps the hormone therapy would alleviate some of that, but until science can take a foot off my height and change the proportions of my skeleton, it's not gonna solve the issue. So, for now I just work with what I have. I enforce self-ownership of my body with piercings and tattoos for the time being; those, at least, I have control over.

    My sexuality is broad, but simple: I like cute people, sometimes several at a time.
    The words for that are pansexual, and polyamorous. A little more specifically, I like girly girls, average girls, masculine girls, enbies, trans-men, trans-girls, twinks, and feminine men. Really, I'm only just not interested in average guys or manly men. That's never changed, but I wasn't aware of all that from day one. It took some time, and porn, to realize who all I was into. Outside of a shortly lived, "Am I gay??? D:" in my early teens, I've had no problems with who I am.
    Poly I didn't realize at first either, but mostly because I wasn't aware that having multiple, concurrent romantic relationships was an option. Like my sexuality, the internet informed me of possibilities, and I recognized "I am that" or "I am into that".

    I don't really see any of this changing. None of it has changed in the decade+ since I've awakened to these things, and my feelings on the matter have never wavered. There's always uncertainty in the future, but there's only so much wiggle-room for me to explore that I don't already encompass.

    11 votes
  3. patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    I've already written a bit about my experiences of gender and sexuality. It's not necessarily desirable, in my mind, that I monopolize the forum trying to figure out how to express the answers to...

    I've already written a bit about my experiences of gender and sexuality.

    It's not necessarily desirable, in my mind, that I monopolize the forum trying to figure out how to express the answers to your questions, but here goes:

    • How would you describe the rigidity/fluidity of your identity or its different parts?

    There are strongly physiologically determined aspects of my gender identity that aren't particularly flexible, barring medical intervention.

    The fact that those aspects (female physiognomy and partial hormonal masculinization) blur the conventional lines of binary gender, has given me some psychological space to explore the identity and role territory in between. Mainly, I'm in agreement with /u/calico about the whole meat prison thing, but I find it both imperative and interesting to work with the tools available.

    It's strange to me that I think of my female body as a place where I'm at home, and yet so much of both femininity and masculinity remain alien and uncomfortable. It's not an agender or neutrois identity, but rather a shifting terrain that partakes of differing polarities depending on any number of factors - part choice, and part biological and social imperatives.

    • Do you experience short-term changes in your identity?

    Not really; it's more about how much I've been bound to the social construction of gender roles.

    I was a teen and young adult in the 1980's. It was actually a fortunate time to appear androgynous by preference (and I know that's not the preferred term now - I'm delighted with "enby"). Androgyny was cutting-edge celebrity style - Annie Lennox, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Boy George, et al. That didn't mean I was safe everywhere, but I felt most comfortable in my skin going to school or out in public without a definite label attached. I could play with the social markers of one gender or another as costume, but the thought of being permanently masculine or feminine seemed both boring and uncomfortable at a deep psychological level.

    Sexually, I was pretty omnivorous. Some gay boys were attracted enough to give a try; lesbian and bi girls, and cis or trans males were all attractive if they were smart enough to have a conversation with. It's hard to call myself anything but "queer" or "pan", given that my gender identity isn't either-or.

    There was a period of time in my twenties when I worked hard at maintaining a muscular, athletic physique that aimed to erase obvious female indicators. I was bicycling 40 km daily, weightlifting, and chest-binding. I was also in a poly quad relationship, and still sorting out where I fit sexually and romantically.

    I spent my thirties either in IT work or kitchens. Nobody gave a steaming heap about what I wore in a data center; it doesn't matter what gender occupies a set of chef's whites if you can sling 80-quart mixer bowls and 100 lb. bags of ingredients all day.

    At the same time, I married an apparently cis male (we sometimes joke that we're each other's "beards").

    Forties, back to IT work, but with the ugly complication of frequent appearances in formal business attire. This is a minefield even for cis women. I could be the eccentric "IT lady" who wore Oxford shirts, pantsuits and loafers, but the more-or-less mandatory makeup sucked.

    Over the years, I have often had to present as definitively female for employment and safety. Even totally cis women strip off those drag trappings with deep relief at the end of a working day. I've been pretty disgusted with myself (at a level which a therapist has told me is probably dysphoria) for going along with the charade.

    I still tend to think of clearly defined masculine or feminine dress presentations as "drag". There're specific functional purposes for garments that have been segregated by gender role. I'll go "masculine" if I'm planning on heavy labor, and "feminine" if it's so hot out that a skirt ventilates things nicely.

    • Have you experienced long-term changes in your identity?

    I'm not going into details, but perimenopause has been very weird. I'd say both masculine and feminine indicia are less prominent, that I just care less about the sexual display aspects of genderedness. Not a change in my identity's fundamentals, just the intensity.

    • Does your identity have any elements that are unchanging long-term?

    I'm still most attracted to people with brains, without much regard for gender presentation. Could be my identity is "zombie".

    • How does the fluidity/rigidity of your identity affect you? Are there advantages? Disadvantages?

    There's some interesting, if dated, work on the intersection of gender fluidity and creativity. I think I've had some significant advantages in perspective that have let me become a better, or maybe more interesting, communicator and problem-solver.

    I'm more capable, in scope of action, than most cis women, but less confident than most cis men.

    • Are you certain in your identity right now, or is it unclear to you at the moment?

    I'm comfortable with my identity now, which isn't exactly the same thing as being certain in it. It's been helpful to live to see a time when better language for characterising my identity has arisen.

    8 votes
  4. [5]
    ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    I was always male and heterosexual... mostly. I was always open about sexuality, unlike most of my peers and relatives. Urban Russia deep in Siberia is a repressed society, and chances are slim...

    I was always male and heterosexual... mostly.

    I was always open about sexuality, unlike most of my peers and relatives. Urban Russia deep in Siberia is a repressed society, and chances are slim that coming out would end with a celebration, let alone acceptance. I always felt like the black sheep; thankfully, I had enough sense to not open my mouth about how I felt.

    There was a time when I thought I could be gay. I was in my late teens, having no luck whatsoever with women (whom I was drawn to, regardless), and noticing some sort of an impulse towards seeing a beautiful male body. So, I started a series of thought experiments about being in a homosexual relationship: romantically, sexually, and in a daily life. Long story short, it turned out a peculiar idea I wasn't interested in investing into. I can appreciate a man's beauty, style, and manners, but that's it.

    Gender-wise, I knew I never entirely fit into the zeitgeist Russian image of a man. I was required to hold my tears back, to not be "emotional" (that is, to never express anything beyond slightly-off-stoic), to like cars and football, to date lots of women (and never get rejected, because a man takes what a man wants), to drink intensely... Yeah, no, fuck that.

    I've always felt like a man, and it took some time to shed the toxic masculine smell off myself. I've always felt intense emotions, and it took time to let myself express them properly; I'm still learning. The few things that defy that image is the fact that I like the idea of painting my nails, which is such a girly thing – and of course it's not, but that sort of gendered conditioning stays with you for a long time if you got it when you were a kid. I've always wanted to be expressive, and dying my hair and painting my nails is just a way to express myself – along with the acceptable venue of tattoos and the less-acceptable but still non-girly transhumanist modding.

    (It's inspiring and validating to see someone like Taliesin Jaffe be as expressive and genuine as he is. I might not be on his level, but that sort of self-expression feels nice.)

    I'm not sure how attached I am to feeling like a man. It feels right, but if at some point I arrive to a position where I can no longer consider myself masculine – probably because I've explored deeply-enough into myself to find differing traits – I don't think I'd mind, as long as I'm at peace with it.

    In a similar vein, I don't think I'd mind having my sexuality shift – like it did from Kinsey 0 to Kinsey 1 – but I can't see that happening anymore. I think, as far as sexual orientation is concerned, I'm done developing, or at least close to the finish line. The rest of it may fall as it may.

    14 votes
    1. [4]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Thanks for sharing. If you don't mind, could you talk a little bit more about gender and sexuality in Russian culture? I feel like my understanding of it is mostly limited to talking points that...

      Thanks for sharing. If you don't mind, could you talk a little bit more about gender and sexuality in Russian culture? I feel like my understanding of it is mostly limited to talking points that were prominent during the Sochi Olympics, but I'd love to hear a more on-the-ground perspective if you're willing to share.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        I'm going to give you a broad overview. You can ask questions that are more specific as we go on. Sexuality is not really explored in the Russian culture. Russia is repressive; probably an outcome...

        I'm going to give you a broad overview. You can ask questions that are more specific as we go on.

        Sexuality is not really explored in the Russian culture. Russia is repressive; probably an outcome of the harsh geographical conditions the nation lives under, making it resilient but reserved. This helps greatly with maintaining the social order. However, it's an attitude poorly-suited for a peaceful, prosperous time, as it provides resistance to social change – something sexual exploration is a part of.

        Said roughly, sexuality in Russia (and Western Slavic countries in general, like Ukraine and Belarus) is an underground matter. It's uncommon for it to be spoken about, much less in the progressive terms that are so common in the US and Canada today. You're not forbidden from sex, but it isn't often discussed publicly. (Private persons may well discuss sex and sexuality within each other's company.)

        Sexual education may exist in pockets of the education system, but the most I've ever gotten – in a rather poor school, deep in Siberia, a region not known for its economic or cultural prosperity – was about sperm production and insemenation. There was never a discussion about what it's like to have sex, what the best practices are, or what things are to be avoided. I get an impression that there could never have been such a discussion – not when I was in school, not for children in school today: the social climate is unprepared for such a shift in educational paradigm.

        "Sexual deviation", meanwhile, is socially prohibited from expression. There's a strong impulse against anything homosexual: there are quite a few choice words for calling someone a homosexual derogatively, and any action that may deemed to be roughly in the vicinity of homosexuality may receive such a word to describe it. Female homosexuality was somewhat tolerated, due to its potentially exciting nature for male onlookers.

        From the latter point, you may correctly derive that male preferences are valued significantly-stronger than female. The Russian social structure is a patriarchy, through and through. Having women in leading positions is not impossible but is certainly rare. There are prominent female mayors, there are female ministers in the government, and there are women on top in all sorts of government and public structures, but most are men... unless we're talking about education or medicine, and perhaps a handful of other venues, where women are "supposed to be".

        Men are supposed to be strong and virile in the Russian society. Weakness is ridiculed in men; is it any wonder that, in a society such as Russia, weakness is conceptualized as anything you'd think fine for a woman? These requirements are as contradictory and as heavily-contextual as they are broad. Men aren't supposed to cry, except when it's okay to cry. Men aren't supposed to take care of household chores, except when it's necessary to take care of household chores. Men aren't supposed to cook, unless it's time to cook and there's no woman around to do it for you.

        Most of it is being enforced by the older population. "Older" is vague for me to define well, but let's say it's anywhere from 35 and upwards: they whose outlooks are mostly crystallized and are unlikely to change. I'm not very connected with the Russian youth, but it appears that teenagers current and recent are mostly in favor of a progressive, liberal outlook on both gender and sexuality. There are the same young people who find it more important to express themselves: they have tattoos, piercing, they dye their hair wild and beautiful colors – all the things their parents are unlikely to approve of because those are not "normal".

        One American once told me that, from his extensive experience with the Russian people, it's always been difficult to be Russian, it continues to be difficult to be Russian, and, barring a chain of miracles, it will continue to be difficult to be Russian in the foreseeable future. Russians are stressed, and scared, and constantly wary. I think it contributes to the current conservative culture a lot. Dispensing with the scaremongering government and adding some ecomonic prosperity would add a level of certainty that could allow Russians to explore themselves wider and deeper, it seems to me.

        10 votes
        1. [2]
          patience_limited
          Link Parent
          Based on my inferences about your age, I'm not sure you'd be able to say how much the vestiges of Soviet communism vs. resurgent Russian Orthodox Christianity have influence. Are normative gender...

          Based on my inferences about your age, I'm not sure you'd be able to say how much the vestiges of Soviet communism vs. resurgent Russian Orthodox Christianity have influence. Are normative gender roles portrayed as a source of national strength, or as a matter of moral law?

          5 votes
          1. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            We're still governed by a lot of older people. Whether Putin's politics of eternity outlook is rooted in the old or is newborn, it still has a lot of support in the government. I'm not clear on...

            Based on my inferences about your age, I'm not sure you'd be able to say how much the vestiges of Soviet communism vs. resurgent Russian Orthodox Christianity have influence.

            We're still governed by a lot of older people. Whether Putin's politics of eternity outlook is rooted in the old or is newborn, it still has a lot of support in the government.

            I'm not clear on the influence the Orthodox Church has in the politics. It's been trying to promote itself as an entity to consider for a long time, but I haven't been tracking the news enough to ascertain their current effect.

            Are normative gender roles portrayed as a source of national strength, or as a matter of moral law?

            Moral law. It's the way things should be. No one's ever said that phrase out loud, but it's clearly the intention, given how punishable stepping away from it is right now.

            The source of the national strength is in the patriarchy: the strong men that fight against the Evils of the World. Those who are brave, strong, virtuous, strong, loyal, clever but just enough, strong, respectful of women and children, a good husband, dependable, strong... Serving in the Army is a must; it's a major part of turning boys into Men in Russia. Even the Defender of the Fatherland Day – the 23rd of February – is, instead, considered to be the Man's Day. Every man is celebrated on that day, not just those who served.

            You can see a similar social model in the US currently.

            It's also saying something that one of the big cultural events is the Paratroopers Day, on August the 2nd. It's the day when the paratroopers – aka the VDV – celebrate... by getting shitfaced, swimming in the city fountains, and beating up strangers.

            10 votes
  5. [22]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    My identity hasn't changed in the decades since I was 8 years old and tried to get into bed with another boy at a school camp (I didn't know what I would do once I got into his bed - I just wanted...

    My identity hasn't changed in the decades since I was 8 years old and tried to get into bed with another boy at a school camp (I didn't know what I would do once I got into his bed - I just wanted to be close to him). I'm gay and male. Always have been, and I expect I always will be.

    I was gay even before I knew what "gay" was. I was having sex with men before I understood the concept of homosexuality. I just did what came naturally. I had a very Faith-style approach to men and sex: "Want. Take. Have." [for the 'Buffy' fans out there]

    I've never had any reason to question who I am or who I like.

    11 votes
    1. [20]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      How difficult was it to be gay in Australia when you were growing up? (I'm assuming you reside in the same country you were born in.) Was it stigmatised? persecuted?

      How difficult was it to be gay in Australia when you were growing up? (I'm assuming you reside in the same country you were born in.) Was it stigmatised? persecuted?

      8 votes
      1. [19]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        I was a teenager during the 1980s, when "gay" meant "Got AIDS Yet?" Gay men were also seen as weak and effeminate and lots of other negative things. It was hard. I endured years of bullying...

        I was a teenager during the 1980s, when "gay" meant "Got AIDS Yet?" Gay men were also seen as weak and effeminate and lots of other negative things. It was hard. I endured years of bullying (physical and psychological) during high school. Even after I left school, there were plenty of people around to tell us poofters exactly what they thought of us. I managed to avoid the worst myself, but I had friends who were bashed by random strangers just for being gay.

        It got better over time. But the '80s and the early '90s were especially tough.

        8 votes
        1. [18]
          ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          How did gay men found each other back then? Was it open, despite the mockery and the bullying? Was there a secret code and a certain place to go?

          How did gay men found each other back then? Was it open, despite the mockery and the bullying? Was there a secret code and a certain place to go?

          5 votes
          1. [17]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            There were no secret codes or secret handshakes. (Well... there was the "hanky code", but that's a whole different story! Also, it was falling out of common use by the time I came of age.) But...

            There were no secret codes or secret handshakes. (Well... there was the "hanky code", but that's a whole different story! Also, it was falling out of common use by the time I came of age.)

            But there were places to go.

            I found my first gay man at a "beat" - which is a public place where gay men go to cruise for sex. These were places like public toilets, beaches, parks, and so on. If you knew where to go, you could find men. Some beats had been operating for many decades. They were a long-standing part of gay life. They're dying now, due to dating apps.

            And there were gay bars and other gay venues. We even had a well-known gay road in a gay neighbourhood. There were gay bars & clubs & cafes along this one street, all clustered together, and the other businesses on the street were gay-friendly. Lots of gay men lived in that one neighbourhood. It was known as the "gay ghetto". On the plus side, it meant gay men knew where to find other gay men. On the minus side, it meant gay-bashers knew where to find gay men.

            I came just after the generation that created Gay Liberation, starting in 1969. During the 1970s, gay culture became more open and more visible in Australia. They were making progress towards equality. For example, our world-famous Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras started as a protest march in 1978. Australian states and territories started decriminalising same-sex activity in 1975, with most jurisdictions having completed this by 1991 (apart from one hold-out). When I came along as a young baby poof in the 1980s, I was able to reap the benefit of this previous generation's work. And then a lot of them died. :(

            9 votes
            1. [16]
              ThatFanficGuy
              Link Parent
              "Young baby poof" makes it sound almost cute, considering the circumstances. Have you ever mistaken a straight man for being gay? And I mean "mistaken", not "I'm not sure, so let's find out"? Have...

              "Young baby poof" makes it sound almost cute, considering the circumstances.

              Have you ever mistaken a straight man for being gay? And I mean "mistaken", not "I'm not sure, so let's find out"? Have you ever flirted with a man known to be straight, perhaps to have fun?

              3 votes
              1. [15]
                Algernon_Asimov
                Link Parent
                "Baby poof" was a phrase a friend of mine used to use about teenage gay boys when we were jaded old men in our 20s. :) I still like it. Of course I've mistaken a straight man for being gay -...

                "Young baby poof" makes it sound almost cute, considering the circumstances.

                "Baby poof" was a phrase a friend of mine used to use about teenage gay boys when we were jaded old men in our 20s. :) I still like it.

                Have you ever mistaken a straight man for being gay?

                Of course I've mistaken a straight man for being gay - various times, in various circumstances. Some went well, some turned out disastrously. People talk about "gaydar", but there's no such thing. "Gaydar" is just applying gay stereotypes to people and assuming you can tell who's who by how they talk or how they dress. It doesn't work. I've wrongly picked straight men as being gay, and gay men as being straight.

                Have you ever flirted with a man known to be straight, perhaps to have fun?

                I don't waste my time flirting with straight men. They're not fun to flirt with. They get all awkward and think I'm hitting on them. Straight women are fun to flirt with, because they know they're safe from me so they relax and enjoy it.

                6 votes
                1. [14]
                  ThatFanficGuy
                  Link Parent
                  Yeah, see, you say this with conviction, but on this side of the aisle, this is much less clear, hence my asking. Thanks for the replies.

                  Of course I've mistaken a straight man for being gay

                  Yeah, see, you say this with conviction, but on this side of the aisle, this is much less clear, hence my asking.

                  Thanks for the replies.

                  2 votes
                  1. [13]
                    Algernon_Asimov
                    Link Parent
                    Think about your own experiences. Surely you have met someone and been sure that he was gay (or straight), only to later find out he was actually straight (or gay). It happens to everyone.

                    but on this side of the aisle, this is much less clear

                    Think about your own experiences. Surely you have met someone and been sure that he was gay (or straight), only to later find out he was actually straight (or gay). It happens to everyone.

                    3 votes
                    1. [12]
                      ThatFanficGuy
                      Link Parent
                      No. No I have not. Keep in mind what kind of culture I come from. I wouldn't know if I'd met a gay person. Maybe once, about ten years ago, in the quantities of one.

                      No. No I have not. Keep in mind what kind of culture I come from. I wouldn't know if I'd met a gay person. Maybe once, about ten years ago, in the quantities of one.

                      1 vote
                      1. [11]
                        Algernon_Asimov
                        Link Parent
                        So you've never met a man and thought he was gay, but then found out he was straight? Okay.

                        So you've never met a man and thought he was gay, but then found out he was straight? Okay.

                        1. [10]
                          ThatFanficGuy
                          Link Parent
                          ...period. This is not a thing that's expressed here. Persecution here is legal, not social. Even that one effeminate boy I met may have been gender-fluid, in retrospect. All of this only serves...

                          So you've never met a man and thought he was gay

                          ...period. This is not a thing that's expressed here. Persecution here is legal, not social. Even that one effeminate boy I met may have been gender-fluid, in retrospect.

                          All of this only serves to fuel my interest. Hence my asking all these questions that may seem stupid, or plain, or myopic to you. It's not a thing I've seen around, much less interacted with in any meaningful way.

                          3 votes
                          1. [9]
                            kfwyre
                            Link Parent
                            This is a sidenote from the ongoing conversation, but do you think it would be useful/interesting to have a sort of group "Ask Us Anything" thread on ~lgbt? It could be a good place to ask any...

                            This is a sidenote from the ongoing conversation, but do you think it would be useful/interesting to have a sort of group "Ask Us Anything" thread on ~lgbt? It could be a good place to ask any questions you're curious about without having to worry about how they might come across.

                            4 votes
                            1. [8]
                              ThatFanficGuy
                              Link Parent
                              Rarely, but yes, that would be useful for someone like me: a cishetero male with little experience of the LGBT culture and the people that embody it, interested in learning about others'...

                              Rarely, but yes, that would be useful for someone like me: a cishetero male with little experience of the LGBT culture and the people that embody it, interested in learning about others' sexuality. I don't have that many questions right now, and it's a topic that only comes up periodically in my life. If it's on a relatively-stable schedule, I may be able to prepare a list of questions.

                              3 votes
                              1. [7]
                                kfwyre
                                Link Parent
                                I was thinking a one-off rather than something recurring: a sort of "What's something you always wanted to know about LGBT people but are afraid to ask?"-type thing. Also, no pressure or anything....

                                I was thinking a one-off rather than something recurring: a sort of "What's something you always wanted to know about LGBT people but are afraid to ask?"-type thing.

                                Also, no pressure or anything. It's actually a thread idea I've had kicking around my head for a while now (I always have like, twenty different ideas for posts at any given time but I try to space them out so I don't flood the site). I saw your questions and figured you'd be a good person for a temperature check on the concept.

                                4 votes
                                1. [4]
                                  ThatFanficGuy
                                  Link Parent
                                  A one-off would be welcome, too. There are a few concepts that I'd like to explore about LGBT living, culture, and history, and there's no one better to ask than a person who'd know a thing or two...

                                  A one-off would be welcome, too. There are a few concepts that I'd like to explore about LGBT living, culture, and history, and there's no one better to ask than a person who'd know a thing or two about those from personal experience.

                                  If you do decide to make that topic, please warn me a day or two ahead of time. I'd like to sit down and write down what I want to ask. It's a rare opportunity for me to ask something like that, and I'd prefer not to waste it.

                                  4 votes
                                  1. [3]
                                    kfwyre
                                    Link Parent
                                    Will do! I'll ask around the site to see if any other ~lgbt users would want to participate (I would want the thread's responders to include more than just me), and if/when I get that ball rolling...

                                    Will do! I'll ask around the site to see if any other ~lgbt users would want to participate (I would want the thread's responders to include more than just me), and if/when I get that ball rolling I'll definitely give you a heads up.

                                    5 votes
                                    1. [2]
                                      ThatFanficGuy
                                      Link Parent
                                      Appreciated.

                                      Appreciated.

                                      4 votes
                                      1. kfwyre
                                        Link Parent
                                        Update: we're getting together a great panel of people to answer anything and everything. I'll be posting the Q&A thread on Monday the 10th, so feel free to drop by with any questions you have,...

                                        Update: we're getting together a great panel of people to answer anything and everything.

                                        I'll be posting the Q&A thread on Monday the 10th, so feel free to drop by with any questions you have, even (especially!) ones that you might be hesitant to ask elsewhere.

                                        4 votes
                                2. [2]
                                  tindall
                                  Link Parent
                                  I would definitely be down to participate in this (as a transgender person).

                                  I would definitely be down to participate in this (as a transgender person).

                                  4 votes
                                  1. kfwyre
                                    Link Parent
                                    Excellent! I started a planning thread over here where we can assemble the panel and hash out its operation.

                                    Excellent! I started a planning thread over here where we can assemble the panel and hash out its operation.

                                    3 votes
    2. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Your certainty mirrors me pretty well (though I was/am far less upfront than you!). Being gay has been an immutable constant in my life. If I'd had any wiggle room or fluidity with it, I would...

      Your certainty mirrors me pretty well (though I was/am far less upfront than you!). Being gay has been an immutable constant in my life. If I'd had any wiggle room or fluidity with it, I would have latched onto that as strongly as possible because it would have been a straight "lifeline" for me in a deeply homophobic culture.

      Part of the reason I asked this question was because my sexuality has been so consistent and unwavering. The idea of fluidity is something I have no direct personal experience with, hence my curiosity.

      3 votes
  6. reifyresonance
    Link
    Lately I've preferred to remain ill-defined. Having more ambiguity means an identity fits over a wider possible range, and I can comfortably vary within it without having to soul-search. I...

    How would you describe the rigidity/fluidity of your identity or its different parts?

    Lately I've preferred to remain ill-defined. Having more ambiguity means an identity fits over a wider possible range, and I can comfortably vary within it without having to soul-search. I sexually identify as queer, for example, and I like not having an exact answer to questions, even my own, about who I'm into. My gender on the other hand... I've got a general answer that I give most people (female), a more specific, but also more vague one for friends (she/they pronouns), and a tighter definition that I use internally, mostly (genderflux between neutrois and female). Those are on an axis from public to private, and also from rigid to fluid. I figure as I get more sure of things, they'll percolate up, somewhat.

    Do you experience short-term changes in your identity?

    I do not have a memory of that happening.

    Have you experienced long-term changes in your identity?

    Yeah! For example, I thought I was a guy for like, the first 16 or so years of my life. I'm slowly figuring out who I'm into, which is complicated, because there's no control group, only a bunch of individual incredibly varied people out there.

    Does your identity have any elements that are unchanging long-term?

    Define long-term? I've, since I started thinking about gender, been drawn pretty consistently toward the feminine end of the spectrum, and I've generally been into androgynous people. Also girls whose name starts with E, but I think that was just coincidence.

    How does the fluidity/rigidity of your identity affect you? Are there advantages? Disadvantages?

    I feel a little constrained by the rigidity of the outer layer of "trans woman", because ugh I do not think my mother would react well or even understand me changing how I identify to her (again) and she'd just see it as me not knowing who I am, and reinforcement that she was right about not letting me start HRT. Especially if I start identifying as something less solely female. On the other hand, I don't KNOW she'd react that way, and maybe it'd be better than I think?

    Are you certain in your identity right now, or is it unclear to you at the moment?

    I've got a working model, and it seems effective enough, but at some point I'll probably reevaluate and see if it's the best for me.

    If you are uncertain, do you think a more definite identity will coalesce for you at some point?

    I have no idea! I'll probably refine my ability to read myself, and learn new vocabulary for talking about what's going on, and maybe things will shift from where they are now! For example, maybe I'll date a guy and have to reevaluate how that makes me feel.

    7 votes
  7. Cleb
    (edited )
    Link
    At the moment, I'm kind of fluid. I dunno. Sometimes I feel a very strong sense of rejection at gender as a whole and don't really want to identify as anything at all. Sometimes I feel more...

    How would you describe the rigidity/fluidity of your identity or its different parts?

    At the moment, I'm kind of fluid. I dunno. Sometimes I feel a very strong sense of rejection at gender as a whole and don't really want to identify as anything at all. Sometimes I feel more comfort in femininity. Right now, I think I spend more time in that first category.

    Do you experience short-term changes in your identity?

    Backs & forths with the two in the above question, I guess that qualifies as short-term.

    Have you experienced long-term changes in your identity?

    Only not being cis, I guess. At some point during puberty I started to realize I had this..... underlying rejection of things that I perceive as being masculine. I don't like the idea of being seen as a masculine person. I don't want people to perceive me as a man. I don't dislike the idea of masculinity but for me it's always been something that I wanted to avoid that people around me kept trying to press on me. I got a lot of talks about things like "being a man" and stuff of that nature. Never went well.

    Edit: I forgot to mention that before I got where I am now, I did have a long multi-year stint starting somewhere in my teens where I wholly identified as a woman. It's in the last year or so that I found myself where I am now, with shifting identities.

    Does your identity have any elements that are unchanging long-term?

    I'm still me. I like the things I like. I act the same way (mostly). I treat people the same.

    How does the fluidity/rigidity of your identity affect you? Are there advantages? Disadvantages?

    I feel like I have some kind of internalized transphobia with regards to genderfluidity that I need to do something about. I often find myself wishing that I was either a wholly feminine embracing person or a gender-rejecting person instead of someone who shifts between those different feelings. There shouldn't be anything wrong with that, but I get so frustrated at not knowing whether I'm going to want to, for example, be referred to in she/her or they/them pronouns for some time. I don't even tell my friends when I flop back to wanting to use she/her, even though I should because they won't care, because I'm afraid of being annoying and overly needy or something irrational like that.

    Are you certain in your identity right now, or is it unclear to you at the moment?

    I have no idea. My only certainty is a rejection of masculinity.

    If you are certain, do you think that certainty will persist, or might things change in the future?

    I don't think it's going anywhere anytime remotely soon.

    If you are uncertain, do you think a more definite identity will coalesce for you at some point?

    I want to be wholly comfortable in my identity, whether I'm actually a degree of fluid or not. That's something I've got to figure out and accept if it is part of me. Definite to me would be whether I can confidently say "I'm feminine!" or "I'm agender!" or "Sometimes I'm feminine, sometimes I'm agender!" and not have any itching thoughts in the back of my head about not wanting to be that. I think I'll get there some day.

    7 votes
  8. [5]
    vegai
    Link
    I wouldn't mind if I turned into a woman suddenly, but I'm perfectly fine with being a man. I'm probably 100% straight, or at least I've met no men yet who would've made me think otherwise....

    I wouldn't mind if I turned into a woman suddenly, but I'm perfectly fine with being a man. I'm probably 100% straight, or at least I've met no men yet who would've made me think otherwise. Generally speaking, I like women more than men, and not just in the obvious way.

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Please do elaborate.

      and not just in the obvious way

      Please do elaborate.

      1. [3]
        vegai
        Link Parent
        Elaborate on the obvious way how a heterosexual man might be interested in women?

        Elaborate on the obvious way how a heterosexual man might be interested in women?

        1. [2]
          ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          No, on the "not just in the obvious way" part.

          No, on the "not just in the obvious way" part.

          3 votes
          1. vegai
            Link Parent
            Oh, stupid me. Nothing much to elaborate, I just find it easier to be friends with women for some reason. I don't have many though, so the statistical implications are very limited.

            Oh, stupid me. Nothing much to elaborate, I just find it easier to be friends with women for some reason. I don't have many though, so the statistical implications are very limited.

            5 votes
  9. krg
    Link
    I'm, like, 90% dude and pretty damn sure that ain't changin anytime soon. I have fun with it, though.

    I'm, like, 90% dude and pretty damn sure that ain't changin anytime soon. I have fun with it, though.

    3 votes
  10. Tygrak
    Link
    My gender is not fluid at all, I am cis male and I am ok with it. The only thing I don't like are the gender stereotypes of man and what's expected of man. I prefer being a bit androgynous, I hate...

    My gender is not fluid at all, I am cis male and I am ok with it. The only thing I don't like are the gender stereotypes of man and what's expected of man. I prefer being a bit androgynous, I hate how the perfect man according to media is a big muscular man. It's kind of annoying that some people (like my parents) don't like when a man is skinny and has long hair like me.

    My sexuality is not really fluid too. It just took me some time to figure things out. It took me quite some time to fully realize that I am definitely not straight. For some time I labeled myself as gay, and after being quite sure it doesn't really fully fit I now consider myself demisexual homoromantic or gray asexual or something like that. I don't know. I don't think my sexuality changed in any meaningful way over the years though. The only thing that changed is how much I understand myself.

    3 votes
  11. [2]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    Are there any videos on LBGTQIA+ genders/sexes/romantic orientations and how they work because I honestly don't understand what any of you are talking about at all.

    Are there any videos on LBGTQIA+ genders/sexes/romantic orientations and how they work because I honestly don't understand what any of you are talking about at all.

    2 votes
    1. kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don't know of a good video to share, but I'll do my best to give a quick rundown. So, the basis for all of this hinges on two ideas: gender and sexuality. Let's start with gender. Gender To...

      I don't know of a good video to share, but I'll do my best to give a quick rundown.

      So, the basis for all of this hinges on two ideas: gender and sexuality. Let's start with gender.

      Gender

      To understand gender we first have to talk about biological sex. This refers to the idea that everybody is born into a body, and that body has certain characteristics (e.g. body parts, chromosomes) that generally get classified as male or female. A person born with male anatomy has a male biological sex, and a person born with female anatomy has a female biological sex.

      Gender differs from biological sex in that gender encompasses the thoughts and feelings of a person with regard to their biological sex. A person in a male body can see themselves as male, but a person in a male body could also see themselves as female. The person's perception of and understanding of what their sex should be is called their gender identity.

      For most people, their gender identity matches their biological sex. They have a male body and they identify as male, or they have a female body and identify as female. This is called being cisgender.

      For some people, however, their gender identity does not match their biological sex. For example, a person born in a female body might have a brain that is wired to believe their body is male. They know, intellectually, that they do not have a male body, but that doesn't override the brain's intuitive understanding which says otherwise. Their gender identity does not line up with their biological sex. This is called being transgender.

      You'll see the word trans used in place of transgender, and it is often used as a modifier. A trans man is someone who identifies as male but did not begin life with a matching biological sex, just as a trans woman is someone who identifies as female but did not begin life with a female biological sex. You will see a similar abbreviation for cisgender with cis. A cis man is someone who identifies as male and did begin life with a matching biological sex, just as a cis woman is someone who identifies as female and did begin life with a matching biological sex.

      It's important to note here that the assumption that all people are male or female is fundamentally flawed, and not just at the level of gender identity but at the level of biological sex. Some people are born with characteristics of both sexes; some people are born with certain characteristics missing; some people are born with conditions that cause their bodies to develop differently than most. When a person has a biological sex that is not definitively male or female, they are called intersex.

      As mentioned earlier, the idea that not everyone is male or female extends to gender identity as well. Someone may feel that they are neither male nor female, and some people may feel that they are both. There are various terms to describe people with a gender identity that is neither explicitly male nor female, but the most common one you'll see is non-binary (or NB or enby for short). This term derives from the idea that gender is treated as a binary (i.e. only male or female) and applies to people who fall outside of that binary, however they identify.

      So, we have biological sex (what your body is) and gender identity (what your brain believes), but there is a third important component to gender: gender expression. Gender expression is how you act in your gender and convey it to others. Unlike gender identity, gender expression is largely dependent on other people, not oneself. This makes it the most complicated aspect of gender. Gender expression is something that can vary based on cultures and individual situations. Much of it is based around widely held perceptions of what men do and look like versus what women do and look like, which are called gender norms. Wearing a dress, for example, is commonly held to be feminine gender expression, while having a beard is commonly understood to be masculine gender expression.

      Gender norms and gender expression are how we assess the genders of the people we meet. When you're talking to a stranger for the first time, you likely have an immediate sense of whether the person is presenting as a male or a female just based on what they look like, how they speak, and how they animate their body.

      Many people, no matter how they identify, often face friction or scorn when they act in ways that violate gender norms. A boy who wears a dress or a girl who grows a beard may face negative comments or hostility. This can be difficult for cis people, but it is particularly difficult for trans people. A person in a male body may be wearing a dress because she identifies as female and her brain understands herself as being female, but the world looking at her might view her as male based on her body and laugh at or judge her for this.

      One of the biggest pushes of the LGBTQ community is to change gender norms and allow for more varied gender expression so that everyone is free to express their gender however they wish; free from derision or judgment from others. Another big push has been to raise awareness about what it means to be transgender, non-binary, and intersex, as they have been left out of our understanding of gender for too long.

      Sexuality

      Now that we've covered gender, let's look at sexuality. This refers to a person's interest in having an intimate physical relationship with another person. The word that describes the types of people someone is attracted to is their sexual orientation.

      Most people in the world are attracted to people of the "opposite" gender. Men are interested in women, and women are interested in men. People who feel this way are referred to as straight. You will also see the term heterosexual for this.

      Some people, however, are attracted to people of the same gender as themselves. These are men who are interested in men and women who are interested in women. People who feel this way are referred to as gay. You will also see the term homosexual for this, but it is usually reserved for more scientific discussions.

      Lesbian is a gender-specific form of the word gay, referring to a woman who is attracted to other women.

      Bisexual refers to people who like people of both or any gender. You will also see the term pansexual. This is very similar to identifying as bisexual and refers to someone who is interested in people of any gender. Many people identify as both. You will also see these referred to as bi and pan for short, respectively.

      Some people do not experience sexual attraction, experience very low amounts of it, or experience it only in very specific circumstances. These people identify as asexual. An asexual person can still experience romantic attraction and may still want an intimate personal relationship with someone. As such, asexual people often identify a romantic orientation for themselves using the same prefixes used for sexuality: hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-romantic.

      Some people do not yet feel they have a definite grasp on their sexual or romantic orientation. This is called questioning, and is a common thing for people to go through. It can also apply to gender as well. Though the terms I've used sound very definitive, many people do not immediately know where they stand, and this is fine. Some people take months or even years to fully identify as themselves, and for others, their identity remains fluid which means that it changes over time.

      Queer

      You have probably heard the term queer. It can mean many different things and there isn't one set definition that we can use. Many will describe their gender as queer, their sexuality as queer, or simply themselves as queer. Generally, we can think of queer as an umbrella term that encompasses any and all of the identities listed here. If someone says that they are queer, that could mean that they are transgender, or bisexual, or asexual, or non-binary. We don't know which one specifically, only that they see themselves as either non-cis and/or non-straight. You can think of "queer" as simply meaning "different from the norm".

      Unfortunately, "queer" originally came to identify our community in the form of a slur. It was used to damage and hurt people for their gender and sexuality, so some people do not like the term nor do they advocate for its use. A good rule of thumb is to not use the word unless you know that your audience is comfortable with it.

      To avoid the negative associations of the word "queer", the acronym LGBT is often used, referring to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. Though the acronym is only four specific identities, it is often used as an umbrella term the same way queer is. You will likely see reference to the LGBT community which refers to people who are non-cis and/or non-straight.

      Some people feel that "LGBT" excludes them because their identity is not listed. For example, intersex and asexual people are not included in the acronym. As such, you will often see variations of the acronym that attempt to correct this. Common variations include LGBTQ, LGBT+, LGBTQ+, LGBTQI, LGBTQIA, and LGBTQQIAAP. All of these add letters in order to be more inclusive, but they also can be more awkward to use and can increase confusion in people not familiar with all of the terms they represent. Because some people oppose "queer" as a slur and some people oppose the acronym for leaving certain identities out, there is no one right way to refer to our community, as no one solution is perfect. Different social groups often have different preferences. Here on Tildes, our ~lgbt group voted to keep the community name as LGBT and add a qualifier in the sidebar that it is open to all people who identify with minority genders or sexualities.

      Closing

      I just threw a lot of information at you, and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. If so, that's fine! It's a lot to learn! I'm someone who has been active in the LGBT community since I came out as gay over ten years ago, and I'm still learning these things too. Very few people are experts on this! Furthermore, things are changing with time too. Some of the stuff I learned ten years ago is now considered wrong, and some of the stuff we believe now will no doubt follow suit. As we learn more about humanity and as we develop as a society, there will be new identities, new terminology, and new understandings. One of the things I love about the LGBT community is that it's always moving forward.

      With that said, it's important to note that the terms I've shared here are less about categorizing people and more about giving people common language to express their experiences. Our goal is not to use them to put people into boxes but to help people come out of closets. The "closet" is a metaphor that is often used in the LGBT community to refer to the idea that some of us have to hide who we are. The LGBT community fights to make sure that nobody has to hide or feel unsafe in who they are, because each of us are valid in our own identity.

      If I could distill down all of this info into its most important point to give you one solid takeaway, it's that the LGBT community promotes acceptance for people regardless of gender or sexual identity. Even if you don't know the right terminology or what a particular word means, that's okay, because the main thing to know is that all people, especially those in the LGBT community, are worthy of love, respect, a sense of belonging, and peace. It's not that gender and sexual identity do not matter -- they very much do! -- it's that neither of those should ever take away from someone's humanity and personhood. Every person should be afforded the right to express themselves honestly and live their life safely and with dignity. The LGBT community is focused on helping make sure this happens for everyone, with a specific focus on people with minority gender and sexual identities.


      To my fellow LGBT community members: if I got anything wrong, misworded anything, or left out anything you feel should be included in this, please let me know!

      8 votes
  12. [2]
    A_Little_Star
    Link
    Is this a study?

    Is this a study?

    3 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Nope! Not at all. I'm just curious.

      Nope! Not at all. I'm just curious.

      6 votes