Okay, what a way to return to the blogosphere with a bang. But I keep hearing this and it makes me feel like crying, because it's so untrue.
You've probably missed a lot in my life if you don't follow me on Facebook, and possibly even if you do follow me there. Let's just say that I've finally come to terms with and embraced the fact that I am a member of the LGBTQA+ community. Which section of that community is irrelevant. What matters about that fact is that I have integrated myself in the community and know many people from it firsthand. I have many friends in the community, I have read first-hand accounts of things that happened in the community, and so on and so forth. I'm not speaking as an Ally, but as a member of the community.
That said, something people love to say lately regarding LGBTQA+ issues is - "I've been where you are." "I know exactly how you feel."
Things like that.
The catch? Unless they're very successfully closeted - for the purpose of this blog post, I am going to assume that every single person I've seen say that in the last month is straight and cisgender, and not just closeted - they aren't a part of the community. Some of these people aren't even technically Allies.
And that's the part that really upsets me.
You don't tell black people that you've 'been where they are' and 'totally understand your experience because once I--'. Why? Because you understand that as black people, they have a unique set of problems from your own and you couldn't possibly understand them.
Mind you, there are people who do try and tell black people that. And it is very widely frowned upon by most people. Because it's kind of obvious that you - if you are white - do not know where they've been due to the fact you are not a part of their community, which is a minority group in and of itself.
It is no different with the LGBTQA+ community.
You can't tell us you've been where we are, because you haven't.
Now, I want to address something someone else said recently that really bothered me as well. They more or less said that telling someone 'you have not been where we are' is ruining the argument people try to make about being loved and understood; they said that sympathising with others despite not having been in the situation is what you're supposed to do.
I agree, actually. But when you're saying you've been where someone else has, when they are part of a minority group, is not the same thing as sympathising with them. It's invalidating to their experiences. And what's even more of a no-no is telling someone "I've been where you are" and using that as an argument to explain why you think that person is being entitled, or whiny, or to tell them that since you got over your problems, then they should too.
That is not okay, and that is what I mean when I say you should never tell us you've been where we are. In those cases, you are trying to use that as a way to invalidate us, and that's not okay. You're trying to downplay the things we've been through, and that's not okay. And on another note, you can very easily sympathise - actually sympathise - with someone without telling them you've been where they are.
I have friends who disagree with my identity, and something you might be surprised to know is that despite disagreeing with me - they listen and they care. They don't agree with my identity, and yet they never bring it up. They are willing to listen to me vent my frustrations regarding that identity, and they don't once tell me I should stop being entitled or stop being who I am or that they totally know how I feel.
They simply listen, and they comfort, and they don't even bring up the fact they disagree.
And one more myth that often shows up in these discussions: "The LGBTQA+ community doesn't have it very bad. It's not like the slaves, who were beaten and forced to work..."
Okay, I don't think anyone in their right mind actually thinks the LGBTQA+ community has it as bad as the slaves. If you find someone who does think that, they are almost always either highly ignorant or a troll, and part of a very small minority.
And you can't use that as an excuse to say we don't have it that bad, or that we have it as good as, say, the Christian community.
That out of the way, here's the main point of the article.
If you have never been disowned or kicked out of your house for something you physically could not change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never walked down the street trying to get home as soon as possible because you know that there are people who want you dead for something you can't change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been ostracized from your church or even your faith for something you can't change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been physically beaten for something you can't change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been treated as less than human for something you can't change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been called 'monster', 'freak', 'Hellbound', 'demon-possessed' by people for something you can't change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never lost a friend due to the fact they were murdered by someone for being gay, you have not been where we are.
If you have never spent days unable to sleep because your best friend was beaten for being bisexual, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been told you aren't allowed to marry the person you love because you're different, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been fired from a job for something you can't change (that has no bearing on how well you do your job), you have not been where we are.
If you have never been banned from visiting a loved one in the hospital solely because you aren't recognised as legally related, you have not been where we are.
If you have never been denied medical attention because of how you identify, you have not been where we are.
If you have never lost nights of sleep because every time you close your eyes you have nightmares of being in Hell because someone told you that was where you were going to go, you have not been where we are.
If you have never had your children taken away from you (even though you never once abused them and loved them with all your heart) because of something you can't change, you have not been where we are.
If you have never found yourself living on the streets because your family refuses to let you live with them any longer, you have not been where we are.
You see, you have not been where we as a collective community are. Maybe you've suffered a few of these things. But there is no way you've been faced with all of them. And everyone in the LGBTQA+ community faces the prospect of these things happening, or has had them happen.
All of those things I listed are things I have either personally experienced, or things friends have experienced.
I am not making anything up. Those are real problems we in the community face, and if you are not a member of our community, you can't have been where we are.
Maybe you've had a bad life, and that is totally valid. I respect that you have, and I am 100% here to help comfort you or be there for you any way I can.
But I'm not going to say I've been where you are. Because I'm not you. I haven't been where you are.
The harsh truth is that if you are white, you cannot tell a black person that you know exactly what struggles they've faced. If you are straight, you can't tell someone who's gay that you've been through what they have. If you are cisgender, you can't tell someone who is transgender that you've been where they are.
You are approaching minorities and telling them you've been where they are solely so you can tell them to stop whining and being entitled.
And honestly... if fighting for the same rights as everyone else makes me egotistical or an entitled whiner, then I'm sorry, but I'm going to be whiny and entitled until the day I die.