In continuation of my LGBTQIA+ series, I decided to go from the term with the most difficulty to the term that is the most mainstream: gay. This label has been around for decades. At one point, gay was the definition to anyone who was under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.
As times have changed, it generally represents gender or transgender men who have an attraction to other men. Notice I use “attraction” versus “sexual intercourse”when describing the term gay. This is best explained in a book entitled “Sexual Fluidity” by Dr. Lisa Diamond as she describes how sexual attraction and romantic love are not congruent. In this way, one can have sexual intimacy with same sex and not, necessarily, consider themselves gay. Further, it explains who one has sex with and what their sexuality is can be different.
Gay people have made serious strides toward equality in recent years including the national victory of marriage equality. Still, there are health disparities that persist like HIV/AIDS along with school age children having little to no legal protections in most places in the country.
So, what are ways we can support people who identify as gay?
Here are a few ways to be an ally to this community.
Understand “out-ness” is a process and not a destination.
Gay people come in as many diverse spectrums as any other population. There are masculine, feminine, professional, creative, young, old, Black, White, Latin and all other kinds of gay people. Still, out-ness is a process and a personal choice. Allow people to choose if they feel comfortable being out to you orto choose to be out in different spaces.
Combat stigmas in your personal networks.
All over the country there are common stigma producing statements that create issues for gay people. Things like, “That’s so gay!” and “HIV is a gay disease…” create barriers to accessing mental health and other healthcare resources, incite homophobia, and put gay people in danger. Being an ally requires using the privilege of being the majority group that creates cultural norms to assist in reducing the structural barriers of everyone else to get equality. Sometimes, it is easy as having a conversation about statements being inappropriate.
Know that love is love.
The greatest thing anyone can do is allow those to love in the way they desire and love them where they are. It can be tough for some, because maybe seeing two men or two women love each other romantically is new to them. There may be a time of being uncomfortable and adjusting. However, accepting others for who they are is truly an ally to the this community. Above all else: Love is love.
Doing these three things continue the momentum of gay people and allow for a more loving and safe world. We at Amy Wine Counseling Center do these three things as allies and provide a space for the LBGTQIA+ population to focus on mental health. If you identify as anywhere on the spectrum of sexual orientation feel free to call us 832-421- 8714 to ask about counseling services.