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    Let’s Get Real About Diversity In the Queer Community

    Let's unpack the consequences discrimination and racism can have within the LGBTQ community and how online violence can translate into hate crimes. Ready? Okay! This is for the Editorial Fellowship.

    Austin Allie / Via assets2.hrc.org

    No fats. No fems. Masc4Masc. If you’re a gay man, you’ve most likely experienced this kind of microaggression on datings apps like Grindr, Scruff, or Tinder. It’s no secret that the LGBTQ community is riddled with internalized homophobia that results in discrimination and even (dare I say it? YES) racism that results in some pretty serious negative effects on the self-worth of both youths and adults. The LGBTQ community as a whole consists of way more than jacked Instagram-famous twinks, there’s no doubt about that. That’s why there are so many colors in the Pride flag! We come in so many wonderful shapes, sizes, colors, and identities, and we should definitely be celebrating that! But if that’s the case, then why do the self-professed “masculine” white guys with almost 0% body fat get to call all the shots? It’s time to take a long, hard look into our own actions and reflect on the good, the bad, and the fugly to understand how we can better ourselves for the sake of self and community.

    Every single day, people within the LGTBQ community experience direct violence. Violence can present itself in many different forms, both big and small, and, sometimes, it’s the smallest cuts that hurt the worst. Whether covert or outright, violent acts of racism and discrimination can sometimes seem hard to pinpoint. It’s like what Potter Stewart said about the difficulties of defining pornography: “I shall not [attempt] to define the kinds of material I understand to be...["hard-core pornography"], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”

    Much like the blurred lines between pornography and erotic art, discerning violence in day-to-day actions some deem socially acceptable can be tricky. Johan Galtung—a German sociologist—defined violence as “…avoidable insults to basic human needs, and—more generally—to life.” The catalyst for these acts of violence can derive from self-hatred, discrimination, racism, and internalized homophobia largely brought on by living in a predominately heteronormative world. Yet, we can’t settle for living our lives with poor moral values born from gut instincts instilled upon us by society. We need to make conscious and active steps towards hitting the reset button on our worldviews and start being more inclusive. When speaking of these violent acts, there’s one thing we as LGBTQ members of society must consider: our own accountability. If we can’t learn to respect fellow LGBTQ individuals, how the hell can we expect the world to do the same?

    On LGBTQ-friendly dating platforms, it’s common for users to often assume an abrasive or even downright nasty attitude when interacting with others. Some even display outright forms of violence in the form of classism, racism, discrimination, etc. These subsets of violence stem from viewing others as less than which, unfortunately, works wonders at hurting the confidence and self-image of those on the bottom (forgive the pun).

    Many of these people use cop-out excuses such as, “It’s just a preference! Sorry, not sorry.” But if they were to unpack these “preferences,” what would they find behind the facade? Violence. Seeing these interactions and half-hearted attempts at disguising deeply rooted internalized homophobia and racism, we have to ask ourselves when it became okay to treat people with such a lack of regard for their well being and self-worth. And to those who remain silent on the subject or think of these immoral attitudes as humorous, you are only serving to distract from the violent nature of the acts themselves. Why would someone assume this position (again, sorry for the pun)? The answer is to make it easier for them to distance themselves from their virtual actions which ultimately leads to a complete disregard for consequences that have real-life effects on real-life queer people.

    But that is the price that comes with the pretense of anonymity that the Internet provides. There’s a sense of everything being far away and removed from reality as if the ramifications of what we do online have no real impact on our or others’ everyday lives, but that is simply not the case. A majority of people online take this sense of anonymity and use it as a free pass to be cruel. Or, in other words, to be violent and commit acts of violence whether they call it that themselves or not. This is what has led us to a culture of phrases like masc4masc, no fats, no fems, no [insert race here], etc. And, frankly, we should be ashamed that we’ve let this cycle continue.

    If you don’t think that your online actions have an effect on real life, you are a big part of the problem. Violence born in a virtual space can easily wiggle its way into real-life in the forms of bullying and even hate crimes. According to a study conducted by Michelle A. Marzullo and Alyn J. Libman for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, sexual orientation is the third highest-ranking motivation for hate crimes behind religion and race. Violent actions against transgender and/or non-white individuals in the LGBTQ community are more predominate with 48% of offenders being caucasian and blaming LGBTQ public displays of affection as their motive.

    And what of the queer people who denied themselves their true desires and internalized their homophobia only to release it in outbursts of anger and violence? These individuals don’t feel safe enough or were never given the space to come out of the closet, maybe not even to themselves. This kind of constant repression can grow into something ugly and hateful, resulting in violent acts against openly LGBTQ people. No matter who is acting violently, one thing is clear. Not only are LGBTs being forced into the closet by a heteronormative, cisgender society, but they’re dealing with discrimination from their own team as well.

    With all this talk of violence, it’s easy to imagine a disparaged world filled with anger and resentment. But we actually live in an amazing world with amazing things like legalized gay marriage, movements in the fight for transgender people’s rights, and platforms where we can meet others like us in places where we are supposed to feel safe. As members of this modern world of online communication, we must think of the consequences our actions will have and the people it could affect beyond the scope of our phone screens. To do that, we must open our minds and find within us the much-needed humanity and compassion to welcome ALL to the table, no matter someone’s race, orientation, weight, or gender identity. It’s time to strengthen our ranks rather than break them down with meaningless lines drawn in the sand. Promoting peace and reducing violence should be the next Gay Agenda, and it’s up to us to make that happen.

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