Queer Life and Culture

Gatekeeping in the LGBTQ Community

By Ari Levine.

In many ways, the LGBTQ+ community is amazing. We are diverse, proud, and beautiful. But unfortunately, some parts of the community are excluded from spaces or conversations due to gatekeeping within the community. Sometimes it’s in little ways, sometimes in open ways. Today, let’s talk about all those ways and how we can support our fellow community members.

Not “X” Enough

One of the most common forms I’ve seen this take is in the phrase “not ‘x’ enough.” and excluding people from a community, because they don’t seem gay enough or trans enough, and the list goes on. I’ve seen it happen with non-binary people being excluded from trans circles, bisexual people being excluded from women-loving-women or men-loving-men circles, and asexual people being excluded from the entire community.

This idea of gatekeeping people because they don’t meet your particular definition of their own label is hurtful and frankly disappointing. We are a small community and we need to stick up for each other, and that includes letting everyone live their own truth, pick their own labels, and present their own ways.

Loving Ourselves & Each Other

A lot of the LGBT narrative is one of exclusion and hatred. It’s been nearly 50 years since the Stonewall riots and that was unfortunately not the last dark or violent part of our history. It’s important that we acknowledge that violence, hatred, and fear.

But it’s also important that we love each other and ourselves and work to build our communities in inclusive, intersectional ways. I spoke with Dmitri (they/he), a non-binary trans masc person, about some of the exclusionary language within the trans community in particular.

“A lot of cis people perpetuate this idea that trans people hate their bodies, hate themselves. And that can absolutely be true. But we can also often find a lot of joy in our bodies — related to social or medical transition — and many people in the trans community are working to make that “gender euphoria” more of the image of the trans community than the dysphoria part. It’s disappointing that some trans people still want to preserve this idea of hating yourself in order to be trans.” 

Whether you’re cis or trans, let’s all work to keep in mind that our bodies can be a source of joy, and celebrate our trans siblings and their gender euphoria.

Building Community

A lot of what we’ve talked about above are things people don’t think about, especially if they aren’t part of an excluded group, so let’s start there:

Think about things.

As we question our own biases and learn others’ stories, we expand our horizons and we make our community and our world better.

How do we do this?

Listen to people and accept and respect their identity. Everyone has their own definition even within well known labels, and just because someone doesn’t fit your definition of something doesn’t invalidate it! My own definition and interpretation of bisexuality are different from others I know, but we are all in this together. Let’s build a community, not tear each other down.

Next, work to acknowledge your privilege, to lift up and include those who don’t have those privileges. White LGBT people should include and support POC LGBT. Cis LGB people should include and support their trans siblings. Allosexual LGBT should include and support Asexual LGBT. Allies should include and support LGBT people.

Reach out a hand, make a little difference, and help end gatekeeping in your community. We’re better than that. I know it.

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