The LGBTQ+ Community FAQ and Interview

William Mashburn
wmashburn@lc.edu

Over the past few weeks, I have taken it upon myself to reach out to people in the LGBTQ+ community. I created a survey and interviewed people from a variety of sources. The primary goal of this survey was to bring a better understanding to those who are unaware of the struggles, hardships and political pressure these amazing people have to go through. The process is question-based, and no personal names shall be given.  

 

“Have you come out to your family and friends yet, and if so how have they responded?” 
This question had a very unique response. Going into that question many of the participants explained they only have come out to their friends. A close friend explained to me that “Coming out to friends is easier than parents. I’m afraid of what my parents will say”. Others told me that their parent’s religion prohibits them from coming out. However, there was a small handful of people that have told me everyone supported them in their choice. All family and friends, teachers and strangers. I love hearing someone tell me about the support they got but it breaks my heart hearing when all they received was negativity for being themself.

“How do you describe to someone who you are?”
When asked this question almost all of the participants stood quiet for a second. One person explained it this way. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell people what you are. Sometimes you change, other times you just do not know”. This person explained a personal story following up on the response. No matter the response, the volunteers all had one thing in common; it is difficult to explain it, and it’s harder when you don’t know that person personally.

“Do you think that you as a community have support from the government?”
This question hit the hardest for me because almost every single response was a solid “no”. This is because of the recent political action that President Donald Trump took at the start of June, making it legal for workers to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. This would essentially make it legal for anyone who is against these people to refuse service or even healthcare. Just imagine being denied medical insurance all because you are LGBTQ+. Luckily right after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected these people. There were a few who believe the government does show enough support. If an administration or party does not support them, there will always be the other side, the individuals who put all their effort in to make sure this community has a voice, and the people of this country who make sure you have that support.

“What are some of the annoying questions you get asked?” 
I got a bunch of eye rolls and giggles for this one. It seemed like each person had their own list of questions they got asked. The most common question I heard was “Do you have a preference?” or “How do you and your partner, you know?” One individual shared a story of their time with a man who quotes “thought he would be okay with it”. This person showed high emotion when sharing this story, and said “I loved them, I really did. To have someone tell you it ISN’T okay after you trusted them is the worst kind of pain a person can feel”. They gave a word of advice; “if you find someone who you can see yourself with. Make sure, do not take a maybe for an answer, make sure they understand, and that both parties are comfortable.”

“Do you think that people discriminate because they just do not understand?” 
The responses were half and half here. A lot of people said yes, it is because they do not understand. “I understand. We’re human, and we avoid things we don’t understand. What hurts is when they don’t listen or try to understand how we feel”, one person pointed out. The other half that said no, they do it because of the way they were raised, or because of religion, even because they find it “weird”. Those who said no because of those reasons explained some experiences with it. One person told a story of going to the store and waiting in line. They kept getting eyed up and down for the way they dressed. When this person asked why the other one was looking, their response was “Well what the f*ck are you?”. Of course, this is insensitive. When this person explained to the other they said “Bullsh*t, you’re either one or the other. Make up your mind”. Just hearing this drove me up a wall. Nobody should say that to anyone who doesn’t look “normal” compared to others. 

“What are the biggest struggles you face?” 
Another variety of answers. Some people said dealing with judgmental strangers is the worst. Others said it was the mental fight they go through on the daily, trying to figure things out. A response that stood out to me was when an individual said “My biggest struggle is seeing others struggle”. I asked if they could explain it. “I don’t care what people say about me, or how they look at me. It’s when I see them go after others who get more hurt by those things. I can not stand seeing others getting hurt because they are a little different. Nobody is the same, and I just want to protect the people who can’t protect themselves”. Very strong and positive answer.

 

Overall I think that this interview was a success. Seeing and hearing these stories really opened my eyes to the struggles and mindset these people go through. I wish all people would be kind and supportive, and it hurts that is not going to be the case. For disclosure, I did not make any of these participants answer if they did not feel comfortable. I would love to see some more feedback if possible.

This was a non-scientific, op-ed survey. 

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