June is Pride Month. Pride is about awareness and community where people can find some manner of safety from harm for being different from the majority expectation.

Roughly 10% of people in western society are not strictly heterosexual, with variation from 5% to 17% depending on region and other demographics. This is for people willing to privately identify as non-heterosexual.

There are numbers of mostly-straight people who don’t self-identify as less than fully straight. There are people who engage in same-sex relationships who do not identify as LGBTQ+. There are people who are asexual, non-binary, intersex, or other variations of gender and sexual characteristics, identity, etc. who may not identify as non-hetero.

This is not new either. As far back as the 1940s, we find surveys that show a little over 11% identified as K3 (equal attraction to “both” sexes). Plenty has changed in terminology and understanding since then.

While you may think “the gays” are a weird, fringe group, that’s really not the case. It’s more that many people are private about their identity, orientation, and activities. Private does not mean ashamed. It means none of your business.

It becomes everyone’s business when bigotry and propaganda is used to oppress the free expression of constitutional rights, or is used to actively harm others. Then the greater community, including allies, has to stand up.

Plenty of people disagree, including some people in positions of authority or power.

If you value the rights and freedoms of this country, then even if you disagree wholeheartedly with LGBTQIAA+ lives, you still owe it to yourself to help stand up for the rights of Americans, lest you find there is no one left to stand with you when your rights are under attack.

Pride Month is about being proud to be yourself, and supporting everyone else’s right to be themselves, no matter if it’s low-key or freaky. It’s the whole month until everyone can be proud year round without risk of being killed, fired, ostracized, or otherwise mistreated simply for not meeting expectations of others.

Happy pride month to all!

Safe spaces for identity

The Internet has given people the ability to find safe spaces. I don’t mean impotent bigots who group and commit violence. I mean people who would typically be abused or killed for being “different.” Many distinctions are not “new”; they have just not been as repressed in the last 30 years.

A prime example is terminology around gender and sex. Binary simplicity is not natural. It is just all some of us learned as kids. No one likes feeling like an idiot, so here are some terms to help go through the mental adjustment privately without having to defend what was socially accepted when we grew up, nor a need to attack the “new” concepts.

Sex – This is body parts. This is not binary. About 1.6% of people are born with some kind of combination. Some is visible, but some is not. Genes, environment, and random chance all have complex effects. Some people even change parts naturally when they go through puberty! This is not unique to humans.

Gender Identity – This is in the mind. Maybe machismo, or maybe delicate behavior. Maybe things match the body, and maybe they don’t. Just like you have a preferred name, and sometimes people call you the wrong name, people have an internal identity that may or may not match external expectation or physical traits.

Gender Role – This is the part you play in society. It may or may not match the above two. This can be complex. Even as simple as liking the outdoors, or not, can be seen as somewhat gender aligned. “The Man” or “The Woman” of the house are common, simplified terms.

Orientation – Who and how you like people. The social expectation is a pile of traits for one gender, and a different pile of traits for the other, with both only being attracted to the polar opposite. In reality, it’s much more complicated, and both personal and social barriers affect the expression of this. Some people have only emotional intimacy, but no romantic or sexual intimacy. Some people are attracted to people more or less like themselves. Etc etc. Any combination is possible. This can absolutely encompass any kind of relationship, but typically is used to address people for whom you have extra appreciation or affection beyond casual acquaintance. This can be as simple or complex as required.

Someone’s identity should never be a threat to you. If you are confused or threatened, consider why, and sort out how to be a nice person about it. Asking questions can be okay if you are genuinely concerned for your own comprehension, but not if you are spiteful or dismissive, or trying to trap or demean someone for not meeting your expectations. A religion is NOT a valid excuse to treat people with hostility nor deprive them of rights for being different.

This is by no means comprehensive. This is more than enough to get some gears turning.

As Star Trek says, there is “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”.