Upon coming out I was granted with two gifts so powerful and important that I can only assume they came from a greater divine power. Meaning, they were either given to me by God or Beyoncé. Personally, I hope it was some combination of both. First, I was given love, support, and a piece of mind that I previously didn’t know I was capable of receiving. After aggressively ugly-crying to my father about not wanting to disappoint him, he looked me in the eyes and said, “You look like you just lost a million pounds. I’d love you at any size, but I’m happy you finally dropped this weight.” Recommence ugly crying. Second, I was provided with a phenomenal group of queer feminist community; we later referred to ourselves as The Family. This happy group of misfits took me in and was patient with me as I unlearned a lifetime of patriarchal socialization. This meant deconstructing so much of what I believed to be true about how the world worked, but essentially meant me coming to know gender as a social construct. It’s 2015 so I think we can all recognize that if you consider yourself to be a decent person then you’re on board with feminism. If you have any questions about that, allow me to make it simple for you. Do you think that all people, regardless of gender, biological sex, and all other potential demographic factors should be treated equally? If yes, congratulations you’re a feminist. If no, never speak to me again.
Moving forward, outside of love and support, I think the most important thing The Family taught me was the importance of intersectionality to any movement. I know that somewhere there exists a very thorough definition of intersectionality but I think it can be summed up with the following; sexism is racism is homophobia is classism is ableism and so on and so forth. Essentially it is the idea that all oppression is in some way connected. Meaning, you cannot stand up for queer rights without recognizing the unique ways that queer people of color struggle, and fighting for them as well. You cannot know and care for the struggles of individuals who are differently abled and not also work toward equality for those of lower socioeconomic statuses. Flavia Dzodan, a woman who is much smarter and more wonderful than I could ever hope to be once gifted the world with the iconic phrase “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” And here is where, as part of the LGBT*Q+ community, I think our movement is failing.
When we look at PRIDE parades, what do we see? Sculpted white men in American Apparel short shorts throwing glitter. When we look at HRC Galas, what do we see? Sculpted white men in suits. Maybe still throwing glitter. While television and music has jumped on board the diversity train with a little more fervor, mainly due to the goddess Shonda Rhimes, there is still so much room left for improvement. However, while we sit and wait for the media to catch on, what I am still most taken aback by is the lack of acceptance we show for one another in our communities and friend groups. As the Black Eyed Peas so eloquently put it, where is the love?
Garrett Schlichte writing has appeared on The Washington Post and Medium.