The ABCs of LGBTQ+

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Luke Gayer, Writer/Designer

Ever growing, Homestead is an incredibly diverse community which includes the LGBTQ+ community. According to the 2020 United States Census, about eight percent of Americans identify as LGBTQ+. Not to mention that one in six Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ+ according to a 2021 Gallup poll. However, many students are confused or have been misinformed about this community. In the hope of providing a bit of proper education, I’ve decided to explain the most common terms thrown around and will hopefully dispel any misconceptions. Additionally, I bring an insightful perspective since I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and my older brother identifies as gay and is happily married to his husband.

 

To begin with, lesbians are women who are attracted to women. The term “lesbian” actually comes from the Greek island of Lesbos where Sappho, a famous ancient Greek poet and likely lesbian, lived. Lesbians have been around for as long as humanity has. In general, homosexuality has even been seen in the animal kingdom, so it isn’t an unnatural thing like some may believe. It also isn’t a recent development. The earliest mention of lesbians comes from the Code of Hammurabi, which dates all the way back to 1700 BCE. The code mentioned “salzikrum,” which were women who were allowed to marry other women. Historically, many lesbians have had to enter into “beard marriages” to conceal their true sexual orientation and fit into society while still living as their real selves. Beard marriages were marriages that existed to cover for one partner’s homosexuality. Famous lesbians include Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Jodie Foster.

 

Next, gays are men who are attracted to men. Just like lesbians and practically every other identity, gays have been around for the entire history of humanity. The first recorded gay couple was Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, an Egyptian couple from 2400 BCE. I have a bit more to say on this since my older brother is gay, and I don’t think that makes him any different. Nor should anyone be seen differently because of their sexuality. Some notable gay men throughout history consist of Roman Emperor Hadrian, Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde.

 

Bisexuals are people who are attracted to both men and women. Based on most polls, bisexuals account for the majority of the LGBTQ+ community. Bisexuals often experience discrimination from monosexuals, those attracted to one gender. Just like homosexuality, bisexuality has been seen all across human history and in the animal kingdom. If you look at many ancient societies, bisexuality was widespread and usually not seen as a big deal. Some famous bisexuals from across history include Sir Alec Guinness, Eleanor Roosevelt and even Walt Whitman.

 

Transgender individuals are people who don’t align with the sex they were identified as at birth. Some choose to medically transition to the sex they identify with while others don’t. Many experience gender dysphoria, a feeling of distress that their gender and biological sex don’t align, which can range in intensity. However, most transgender people can experience gender euphoria when they do transition. Unfortunately, they have extremely limited protection in Indiana and must go through an outdated and somewhat invasive process to even legally change their name. Moreover, many also face discrimination in school, the workplace, with their families and much more. These are people who only want to be happy with themselves and be able to express who they actually are on the inside. A few famous transgender people are Elliot Page, Chaz Bono and Laverne Cox.

 

Queer doesn’t refer to a specific sexual orientation. Instead, it is an umbrella term for people who don’t identify as heterosexual or cisgender, which means identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth. Queer was originally used as a slur against homosexuals, but members of the LGBTQ+ community have since reclaimed it. Similar to the asexual spectrum, not everyone fits neatly inside certain boxes. Because of this, it is important to have an umbrella identity like queer to encompass not being heterosexual or cisgender.

 

Asexuality is a sexual orientation where someone experiences little to no sexual attraction. Surprise, surprise, I can actually speak about this one heavily since I identify as an asexual panromantic. The important thing to note with both asexuality and aromanticism is that there is a distinction between romantic and sexual attraction. Additionally, asexuality exists on a spectrum with many subgroups. Some people experience no sexual attraction (asexuality), while others experience some (gray-sexuality), and even some people have no sexual attraction until they have an extremely strong romantic bond with someone (demisexuality.) A few notable asexuals include H.P. Lovecraft, Nikola Tesla and even one famous fictional sponge, Spongebob Squarepants.

 

Aromanticism is similar to asexuality but is when someone experiences some to no romantic attraction. Like asexuality, it exists on a spectrum and splits attraction into romantic and sexual attraction. Some aromantics may experience little to no romantic attraction. While others identify as aromantic, they still experience sexual attraction. Aromantic people still can have meaningful deep relationships with people, but they simply don’t have romantic relationships. I think it is important to talk about aromanticism and asexuality since both are often overlooked. Because aromanticism is talked about so little in Western society and media, I was unable to find any famous aromantics. Fortunately, there are a few examples of fictional aromantics such as Peridot from “Steven Universe” and Seiji Maki from “Bloom Into You.”

 

Pansexuality is a sexual orientation where someone experiences attraction without regard to gender identity. Although similar to bisexuality, pansexuality ignores the gender binary as pansexuals are attracted to all people even if they don’t identify as male or female. According to a 2016 Harris Poll, two percent of 18-year-olds to 34-year-olds identify as pansexual. While that may seem like a small number, bisexuality and pansexuality tend to blur lines as many people still don’t know about pansexuality. Many also view pansexuality as more inclusive than bisexuality, but that is heavily debated within the LGBTQ+ community. Also, May 24th is the Pansexual & Panromantic Awareness Day. I also have some personal experience with this identity since I identify as panromantic. There’s a reason I care only about people’s personalities when it comes to romantic relationships. A couple of infamous pansexuals are Miley Cyrus, Bella Thorne and JoJo Siwa.

 

Finally, non-binary is a gender identity falling outside of the gender binary, where people do not identify with being male or female. Many people assume that gender is extremely strict and set in stone, but many scientists have concluded that gender is a lot more fluid than people first assume. Many non-binary people go for an androgynous look, but there isn’t “one” look for being non-binary. I’d also like to add that most non-binary people consider themselves transgender; however, not all of them decide to use hormones or undergo surgeries. Non-binary people vary widely and have been seen in most cultures. For example, many Native American societies had a third gender role, two-spirit. As a result of the increasing connectedness of the world, people can finally find the terminology to express themselves. A few non-binary individuals that you might’ve heard of include Demi Lovato and Rebecca Sugar.

 

All in all, the LGBTQ+ community is a welcoming community to all marginalized people. These people simply want to experience love—love that has unfortunately been rejected by family members, friends and others for just being themselves. Plus, not everyone figures themselves out when they’re young. Some people may identify as one thing at one time while realizing later that that label doesn’t fit them anymore. Everyone is always evolving and changing, so it isn’t fair to react negatively if someone changes how they identify themselves. After all, if you were the same person your entire life, then you probably wouldn’t be able to get anywhere in life. If you have any questions or want to meet with members of the LGBTQ+ community, then you can head on down to the Gay-Straight Alliance club located in Mr. Hill’s room, room 210, which meets every Wednesday.