As a cisgender female — a person whose gender identity matches the sex assigned at birth — every day is a seemingly “normal” day for me. I present to the public as outwardly feminine and aside from being openly out and identifying as a lesbian, one would never know just by looking at me.
If I got a dollar for every time someone said to me “but you don’t look gay!” I would be retired by now — relaxing somewhere in Fiji drinking cocktails on the beach. And I’m only 38 years old. Yes, it’s been that much! Sadly, upon my own reflection, I knew I had to make some changes.
(Side note PSA: stop saying that to people, being gay doesn’t look like anything.)
You see, presenting as heteronormative has its perks. Looking like society expects you to look grants you more and, in some cases, easier access to living your best and most authentic life but it does come at a price.
For me that price was an almost blinding sense of naivity to the privilege I had presenting as a cisgender female. Growing up I used to get teased because I was “pretty” and that basically meant I wasn’t intelligent or didn’t have to work very hard. Layer being gay on top of that and I still managed to slide right under everyone’s “gaydar.” Here I was, a lesbian minority (Soy Boriqua!), yet I’ve never experienced a single act of discrimination based on my sexual orientation and I pray that I never do. But it honestly made me wonder how much I was contributing to a double standard.
I decided I needed to use my privilege to support those in the rainbow family who don’t have the same luxury. I have so many gay and transgender friends who are met with such hurtful treatment because they don’t fit society’s vision of “normal.”
My decision meant becoming more of an advocate among those friends, actively supporting LGBTQ causes, putting a stop to supporting outwardly homophobic establishments (boy, do I miss those chicken nuggets) and, most important to me, creating awareness. Not only among friends and family, but at my workplace by encouraging dialogue and creating safe and open spaces for EVERYONE.
All that to say, pride comes from within and starts with you. So, I invite each of you: take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself “What’s your privilege?”
HAPPY PRIDE ALL!
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