“It doesn’t matter who you love, as long as you keep it to yourself” – the paradox of Pride month

Mie Astrup Jensen is sick of being told to keep it to herself


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June is a global month of celebration for LGBTQ+ people. However, it’s also a time when some experience derogatory comments about positive discrimination enforcing an agenda without understanding straight privilege.

 

I’ve often encountered the phrase, “It doesn’t matter who you love, as long as you keep it to yourself”. Of course, it matters! If it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t need to ask me to keep it to myself. If it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be reluctant to be more inclusive and representative. If it didn’t matter you wouldn’t give me that extra look and a subtle “huh” if I correct a pronoun when speaking of a crush.

 

METRO (2014) argues that 80% of LGBQ, and 66.6% of trans people, know before they turn 16. Moreover, Cambridge University and Stonewall (2017) found that 45% of U.K. LGBTQ+ people get bullied in school for their sexual orientation and/or gender expression. Additionally, they found that 40% of students never learn about LGBTQ+ issues in school. METRO (2014) elaborates that LGBTQ+ people are 13% more likely to seek medical assistance for depression and anxiety, 17% more likely to self-harm, and 18% more likely to consider suicide.

 

When I asked for representation in school, I was told “reading LGBTQ+ books will turn others gay”, which made me feel alienated. All my books in school were about straight people – is that then enforcing a heterosexual agenda? Nevertheless, those books did honestly not turn me straight.

 

Therefore: “It doesn’t matter who you love, as long as you keep it to yourself” - check your privilege.

 

  • Were your school books representative or only about straight cis people?
  • Does your family regularly get comments about how “it’s too bad”, “maybe it’s just a phase”, “that must be so difficult to deal with!”, “we’ll just have to tolerate their existence” etc?
  • Did your sexual education classes mention same-sex attraction and relationships? Did you learn about trans and non-binary people?
  • Has your family declared that the worst thing that could happen to your family would be if someone was queer? Do you fear being disowned by your family for being who you are?
  • Do you fear abuse and assault from being affectionate with your partner in public?
  • Do you need to justify the legitimacy of your identity or orientation?
  • Did other people need to vote on your right to get married? Did other people need to vote on your right to have children? Did other people need to decide on your right to hormones and surgery to be who you are?
  • Do you have representation in all social spheres - the media, the parliament, in schools, in sports, etc?
  • Do you experience additional obstacles when going on vacation with a partner – e.g. having the double bed discussion?
  • Are you able to openly live with a partner in a non-judgemental neighbourhood?
  • Would you easily be able to adopt a child in terms of country, time frame, both being considered legal guardians, etc?
  • Do you get comments about enforcing an agenda if you ask for representation?
  • Do you get questioned about your relationship/identity according to cis heteronormative ideologies – i.e. “who is the man/woman in the relationship?”, “how does sex work if you don’t have a penis/vagina involved”?

 

Hence, it matters! When minorities are told to “keep it to themselves”, it dehumanises them, which can lead to serious (mental) health problems. June is supposed to be the month where LGBTQ+ people can express themselves. However, they’re continuously told to “keep it to themselves”. LGBTQ+ people should never feel belittled, wrong, or different because of their sexuality and gender identity.

 

Pride isn’t just a celebration, it’s a socio-political movement. LGBTQ+ people don’t want special treatment, they seek what many heterosexuals take for granted. LGBTQ+ people don’t want to be “others”, they want to be. Be as in our mere existence. Be as in rejoicing in who we are. Nonetheless, there’s still a great deal of direct, structural, and cultural violence targeting us. And it’s historically embedded in many societies and cultures. So, it’s a social responsibility. It’s not just down to the 5-7% of the population who are LGBTQ+ (according to Stonewall), it is down to the 100’s%. Point being, arguments of “positive discrimination” are invalid.

 

We, as a society, ought to stop attitudes about “tolerance”, because LGBTQ+ people are not people to be tolerated. They are people. Period. Discrimination happens on a global scale, and LGBTQ+ people experience harassment and assault on the very basis of the thing that makes us human: love. Love isn’t something that should be kept to oneself. Love isn’t something to be tolerated. Love is love.

 

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of DIVA magazine or its publishers.

 

 

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