Got LGBTQ+ questions? We’re here to guide you
This year is the 10th anniversary of the Durango Pride March! Happy Pride!
The purpose of having an entire month dedicated to LGBTQ+ people is to raise awareness about the murders of transgender women of color; that as recent as 2015, 58% of Colorado youth felt unsafe at school based on their sexual orientation, according to data from the 2015 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the start of establishing civil rights for LGBTQ+ people.
Some questions I hear most from people are what does LGBT, etc mean? What is an ally? How do gay people have sex? What is cisgender? Why do you have she/her/hers next to your name?
Let the Learning BeginAll right, class. Come to order. Today we are going to learn more about the LGBTQQIAAP community. I am going to ask that we put away our judgments, biases, and participate in the space with an open mind.
LGBTQQIAAP is an acronym of labels created by people in the community. Labels like LGBTQ+ offer self-clarification, ownership, self-empowerment, connections within communities, opportunities for identifying supporters, and a way to reclaim terms that are used as slurs. It is important to remember that individuals may choose to use a different label and everyone needs to respect their choice.
Many of you know what LGBT stands for but a surprising number don’t, so let’s all get on the same page.
L: Lesbian – A woman who is attracted to other women.
G: Gay – A man who is attracted to other men. Also, can be used as an umbrella term for the community or by individuals regardless of sex or gender to define their sexual orientation.
B: Bisexual – A woman or man who is attracted to either women or men.
T: Transgender – A woman or man who has transitioned to the opposite gender from their assigned sex at birth, who is attracted to either women or men.
Q: Queer – A reclaimed word, originally used as a slur. Folks may use queer to define their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexual identity.
Q: Questioning – A term for folks who are exploring who they are attracted to or their gender identity.
I: Intersex – A person whose genitals at birth are not clearly definable by medical professionals as male or female. This can be internal and/or external genitals. It is important to note that Intersex genitals should be included in sex identity acknowledging a spectrum rather than a binary.
A: Asexual – A person who does not engage in any sexual activity.
A: Ally – A person outside of a specific group, that supports people within a marginalized group, e.g. straight allies to the LGBTQ+ community or gay allies to the transgender community, etc. Being an ally means calling out jokes and discrimination, voting in support of LGBTQ+ rights, supporting LGBTQ+ businesses, and listening to LGBTQ+ people in your life. This is not a definitive list. Do more!
P: Pansexual – A person who is attracted to all people - straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, Intersex, and so on.You probably know some of these identities and others may be brand new to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you hear a word you don’t know.
The next section of this class is learning about sex vs. gender identity, sexual orientation vs. gender expression, and different types of attraction. The best tool I’ve come across as an educator is the Genderbread Person created by Sam Killerman.
Sex is what is between your legs – your genitals. This is typically assigned at birth by a medical professional, who puts it on your birth certificate. Intersex is included here. Typically, medical professionals have performed surgery on infants to make their genitals conform to the male/female binary. Surgery is often a cosmetic fix and leads to significant complications both physically and emotionally as that person develops, especially during puberty. To learn more and support Intersexuality please visit the Intersex Society of North America’s website: www.isna.org.
Gender identity is the knowledge that you are a man or a woman. This may or may not correspond with your assigned sex at birth. Cisgender is a term used to describe someone whose gender identity matches their assigned sex at birth.
Sexual orientation is who we are attracted to including sexual, emotional, and spiritual attraction. Relationships do not have to be only defined by who we get naked with.
Gender expression is how a person presents physically to the world. This may be a consistent presentation or may change from day to day, week to week, and so on. Gender expression may be closely linked to a person’s sex and gender, or just their gender.
Gender pronouns are words used to assign gender in language – it’s her birthday. They like to bike. We saw him in the park. Gender is on a spectrum rather than binary and in order to respect that spectrum, folks are identifying and using pronouns that best represent their gender identity. The use of gender neutral pronouns, like they/them/theirs, is a way to bring inclusivity and equality to language.
To learn more I encourage you to attend a Transgender 101 class taught by Adrien from The Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, which is a robust and much more detailed discussion on the topic of gender. They regularly provide training in this area and you can host a training for your group of friends or your business by visiting www.tgrcnm.org/training and submitting a request.
Finally, how do gay people have sex? How they want to.
HomeworkI feel it is important to point out that this is just scratching the surface. I will have missed some important details and glossed over complicated and nuanced issues. As an ally I am forever learning from and listening to the LGBTQ+ community.
This is Pride Month, so if you aren’t already, get involved! Come to the Pride March on June 22nd at 2:30 p.m. and stand along the route (from 5th Street to Buckley Park) to support those marching. Attend the Durango Pride Art Show at DAC on June 19th starting at 7 p.m. Donate to the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity – www.4calliancefordiversity.org. Donate to the Rainbow Youth Center – www.rainbowyouthcenter.org. Read books and watch movies that are created by LGBTQ+ folks. Support LGBTQ+ businesses. Listen to LGBTQ+ people in your life. Call out people who make jokes or harass LGBTQ+ folks.
Talk about the transgender lives that have been murdered due to hate.
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze.