Bullying and intimidation of queer people has become a hot button issue. As a society, we’re more focused than ever on making sure that bullying isn’t harming queer kids the way it has in the past. Lots of anti-bullying campaigns focus on the fact that once a kid is out of high school, they get to be a lot more selective in the people they hang out with, and as a result, they escape from a lot of the bullying. But is high school really where bullying ends?
The more deeply I become involved in my queer community, the more I recognize that bullying is not simply an external issue – it’s internal too, and it’s ugly. The queer community is not very welcoming to many of its own members. Being a gold-star lesbian cis-woman or gay cis-male is the best way to gain membership to the queer country club. But those who happen to identify outside of strict cis-gendered and homosexual boundaries find themselves to be considered second class citizens. The only thing worse than being marginalized is being further marginalized within a group that is supposed to offer support.
How many times have we ladies heard our queer female friends say “I’d never date a bisexual” or “I’m not really into trans-women”? And how many times have we let it slide? I’m not saying people cannot have opinions on who they are dating. But when those opinions are the result of deep-seated prejudices against bisexual and transgendered individuals, then it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
Queer media likes to act like these issues are confined to the older queer population, and that the young modern queers are all about inclusivity. Unfortunately, that’s not at all true. And it’s sad. Queer spaces are often designated as “safe spaces” for us to be who we actually are even when we can’t be that person in public. We’re all just looking for acceptance. And when there are people in those spaces actively excluding others, it makes me sick at heart.
We live in a time when being queer isn’t easy. We also happen to live in the digital age, which makes bullying so much more prevalent, subtle, and pervasive in all aspects of queer life. So do your part – remember that every person you meet is fighting their own battle, and their sexual and gender identity are not open to your interpretations. Remember that when you came out, people supported you – and do your best to offer that support to others. And for fucks sake, if you have friends that perpetuate this junk – give them a piece of your mind, lovingly. Let them know exactly how much damage they can cause by opening their fool mouths. It’s sad enough that we lose queer individuals to bullying in schools – we shouldn’t be losing queer individuals to bullying from within their own community.