LGBTQIA+ people can face a high level of discrimination in their day-to-day life. If your organization works or engages with LGBTIQIA+ people, we will collect some tips to help you make your community space safer and more inclusive.
When we use the term ‘LGBTQIA+’, we are referring to people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Questioning, and other gender non-conforming identities. LGBTQIA+ does not cover the full range of sexualities that people identify as, but it is a helpful term for the broader community in the context of this discussion.
This article was created during “Pizza & Write-a-thon” a joint project between Activist Handbook and Federation of Young European Greens
The problems and solutions for activists in the LGBTQIA+ community
What problems do LGBTQIA+ activists face?
- The pressure for ‘’Coming out of the closet’’;
- The lack of using gender-neutral terms in events and communities;
- Violence in protests;
- Assumptions from society about their gender identity or sexuality
What solutions can we provide to stop the problems from occurring?
We shouldn’t put any pressure on ‘’Coming out of the closet’’ for LGBTQIA+ individuals
The idea that queer politics can be fundamentalist and even problematic should not be surprising, since cohesive, marginalized communities can reproduce the same exclusionary hierarchies they want to escape. In this case, it’s the belief that one has to ‘out’ themselves in order to sincerely participate in queer politics. To be fair, this sense of urgency, this ‘all-or-nothing’ approach is not misguided. Queer erasure is a very real challenge; it should be evident from both mainstream media and our everyday conversations how we assume the ‘default setting’ on everyone we meet is ‘heterosexual-heteroromantic.’ Coming out has always been a strong political tool, but it’s not every queer person’s preferred tool, because for a lot of queer people it can be more damaging, rather than a positive impact.
It’s alright to be forceful about your queer politics, it’s alright to want to create safe spaces that must not be co-opted by the heteropatriarchy. It is sure alright to be unapologetic about your sexual, gender, or romantic identity. But somewhere some concessions ought to be made for those of us who haven’t had the luxury, or the support, or the security of coming out to the world. Even if the ‘presence’ of these persons is marked by a heavy absence from our pride marches and our roundtable conferences, we still need to be able to provide that space.
Use the right language and ask for pronouns
Inclusive language can go a long way to making LGBTQIA+ people feel safe and welcome. It’s important to understand that sexual orientation and gender identity/expression are related, but are separate and distinct. Avoid using umbrella terms, such as ‘homosexual’. Instead, opt for precise terminology that encapsulates how that person identifies. If in doubt, ask! LGBTQIA+ people are usually happy to tell you what their preference is and will feel safer and more accepted if you stick to that.
Pronouns matter: the example of English
Not all languages have gendered pronouns but, in English, using “he” and “she” requires us to assign a gender to an individual. Last year the Merriam-Webster dictionary added to the definition of the word “they” to explain the word’s use as a singular pronoun, and the use of “they” is increasingly catching on. Many other gender-neutral pronouns can be used; a web search revealed as many as 78 different options. Many LGBT advocates and their supporters, public figures, and people in general, have taken to adding their pronouns in e-mail signatures and social media profiles (for example, US presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, and Bill de Blasio added their pronouns to their official Twitter accounts), and pronoun badges are also becoming popular, e.g. in companies, for staff, and schools and universities, for students.
Educate yourself and others about anti-LGBTQ violence!
Pride events are still controversial in a lot of European countries that have been previously clashed with Western-leaning governments over progressive social issues. So it is important that we educate ourselves about the problems in different LGBTQIA+ activist communities both in Europe and around the world. State sanctioned violence is still prominent in a lot of countries around the world.
- Tips for Creating a Safe Environment For LGBTIQ+ People in Your Organisation by RICHMOND WELLBEING (2020)
- How to Use Gender-Neutral Language and Why Is It Important to Try by PISANA FERRARI (2020)
- Why Is There Pressure To ’Come Out’ Before You Can Contribute To The Queer Movement?’’ by Shambhavi Saxena (2015)