Sensitivity means knowing the questions you shouldn't ask your LGBTQ friends
Chances are you have a friend or know someone that belongs to the LGBTQIA+ community. And as the world generally becomes more accepting (read: curious) about this part of the gender spectrum, it’s really no wonder why questions have been raised. As such, you yourself might have asked about how things work in these types of romantic relationships—but it’s easy for ignorance to be the root of insensitivity.
RELATED: Some Of Our Favorite LGBT Artists
As respect is a great foundation for friendships and familial relationships, it pays to be respectful to those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and however else they see themselves. Without further ado, here are some questions you shouldn’t ask your LGBTQ friends:
“So…how do you do it?”
Think about it this way: If you don’t like this question being directed at you, then there’s no reason to ask anyone else about it—and yes, this includes your LGBTQIA+ acquaintances. The good news is, the internet exists now and if you really want the answer, you can get it yourself.
The bottom line us that being intimate is possible across all genders.
“Are you sure you’re gay? You don’t look it!”
You may think that this is harmless (or even a compliment), but it can come off as offensive. First, you’re implying that LGBTQIA+ individuals must look a certain way and that’s the only way they can look. Second, self-expression is essential to anyone regardless of their gender and the way that someone dresses is not indicative of how deep their homosexuality goes. They do not necessarily shop at the same stores, watch the same shows or have the same hobbies.
Moreover, you’re invalidating their gender identity. If someone wants to live their truth and tell you that they’re gay, they are.
“Is this just a phase?”
Once again, invalidation underscores this question. It assumes that the person you’re asking is going through something and that their outlet or coping mechanism is getting into a homosexual relationship. Exploring one’s sexuality is not synonymous to going through a phase.
“When did you decide to pursue this lifestyle?”
No body plans to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community; it’s not something you can predict. People discover this at their own pace and through their own unique circumstances. Some know from when they’re children and others find out later in life. It’s not a conscious decision but is more of a discovery of coming to terms with oneself.
More importantly, it isn’t a lifestyle. Falling in love is not a trend that LGBTQIA+ individuals subscribe to. Love is love is love.
For bisexuals: “Which do you prefer?”
To be fair, there might be some bisexual individuals who could answer this question; but it doesn’t work that way for everyone. Attraction is incredibly subjective and, often enough, you can’t rate it. Bisexuals identify as they do because they are attracted to both men and women and it just doesn’t matter which one “weighs greater” than the other.
For lesbians: “Did a man hurt you?”
There are many reasons for a woman to like a woman, but a man never comes into that picture. Lesbians are attracted to women for no other reason than they are attracted to them.
For couples: “Who’s the boy and who’s the girl in the relationship?”
The answer: no one is.
The thing about this questions is that it tries to fit an LGBTQIA+ relationship in a heterosexual square—which absolutely misses the point. It negates the gender identity of the people in the relationship, as if it’s only valid when one fits the role of the guy and the other, the girl. This also assumes or builds upon set gender constructs that men should act or look a certain way while women should do or look or be the other.
Curiosity is not a bad thing, but neither is practicing sensitivity to those you care about. You can watch shows, movies and documentaries in whatever way you choose to help you learn and understand the community more. And yes, you can definitely ask questions directly, too—but keep in mind if those are questions you yourself would like to be asked.