For as long as I can remember I’ve identified as a heterosexual female. Growing up in a Mexican household I was never asked if I was straight, more so assumed to be. My parents had a very traditional upbringing and being homosexual was not really something people ever considered and was never a topic of discussion in my home growing up. I knew that they wouldn’t love me any less for it, but they would not know how to react and what to do. But I knew I’d never be in that situation. I knew other people were probably going through similar problems, but I never realized that one of my closest friends was dealing with this themself.
Second semester my junior year my best friend, Brandon, came out to me. We were having a bonfire at the beach and while we sat around the fire Brandon turned to me and acknowledged the fact that he wasn’t attracted to females but to males. They told me that they felt as though sometimes they could identify as a female more than they could as a male.
I don’t remember exactly what I was feeling when they told me, but I do remember that it didn’t change the way I felt about them. They were still my best friend and still one of the greatest people I have ever met. I do remember being confused and curious, I wasn’t really sure what it meant. Were they gay? But to my knowledge they was gender fluid, so gay wasn’t the best word for it. That was when I realized I didn’t know as much as I felt I needed to know.
I still don’t know everything I should, but I do know more than I did that day. I now know that they consider themself queer. Queer is an umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community. Since there isn’t an exact term for both gender fluid and their sexual attraction to males they go by queer. They have taught me so much that I didn’t know and they make me want to know more. Although some may find it offensive to ask people about their sexual identity and sexual preference, I believe that people who identify on the spectrum are the ones who can inform me the most. There are obviously different intentions behind everyone’s questions, but for those who just want to learn more and are accepting of the community their true feelings will resonate by their actions and words.
After learning what I did about Brandon, I have learned about a few other of my friends who identify on the spectrum. I’ve had the exact same response to all of them, “I love you”. That’s all we can really do, tell them how much we love them. I can imagine it is scary to tell people and fear that they might not accept you for who you are. As an ally, I have learned that I can never truly understand what they have been going through and the discrimination they have felt, but I can sympathise and treat them just the same as I do everyone else. Because that’s just it, the LGBTQ+ community is just like everyone else and shouldn’t be treated otherwise.
For those of you who don’t know what the LGBTQ+ community is, today is probably a great time to start learning. As more people begin to acknowledge their identities and sexuality it becomes more real in our daily lives and more important to be aware of. Inform yourself before you feel like a deer caught by headlights like I did. For those of you who have friends who have recently told you about their identity and sexuality and want to know how to react, there isn’t a proper way to do so. It’s confusing to realize that what you thought you knew is incorrect, but can you imagine how people have felt being told that they had to be heteronormative their whole lives even though they knew deep down that it wasn’t them. So all we can really do as allies, is love them endlessly and continue to educate ourselves.
Note: I use the pronouns “they” and “them” when referring to Brandon since they identify as queer not male.