Wednesday, 12 February 2020

I Don't Feel Like I Belong In The LGBTQIA+ Community

Hey everyone! 

Welcome to a brand new post. This is probably going to be a very rambly post, but, as you can see by the title, I've been thinking about some stuff for a while...

two hands with rainbow colours painted on them on a bright background

(Photo is a stock image from Pexels)

I'm Jamie, I'm a visually impaired queer non-binary person. I realise that doesn't mean a lot to people for those reasons, alone, I don't feel like I fit into the LGBTQIAP+ community that we live in today.

Being Visually Impaired, can be a good and a bad thing. It can be good, because, it shows that even though you have a disability, you can still be yourself. You can still do what you want to in life. It just means that you might have trouble doing some stuff, and, honestly it means that you have a completely different perspective than abled people, because, well your sight loss, no matter at what stage its at, means that you've retrained yourself in someway shape or form to live a true great life. This might be mentally, via the concept of sight loss, or it might be physically by getting used to a cane, or an assistance dog. It might also mean learning accessibility tools such as VoiceOver. Even though it is a disability and society sees that as different, it does include some amazing stuff, but also at the same time, the main bad thing for myself is incorporating myself into the LGBTQIAP+ community that lives in the culture of today.

The LGBTQIAP+ community survives off the notion of socially communicating within bars and clubs. There are many many conversations at the minute going on about how the LGBTQIAP+ community is somewhat problematic via only thriving via bars and using alcohol as the main gateway of communication, but I want to talk more about the location than the actual use of alcohol. Due to the main hub of the LGBTQIAP+ community being based within clubs and bars, this means that most, well honestly nearly all, are based in a darl lighting environment. Thats great for abled/fuflly sighted people as they can do what they want in this lighting, and adds to the ambience, but for me creates a fair amount of problems. It means that going for a gathering or just a simple drink with LGBTQ+ friends, becomes, honestly, a nightmare for me. It means that I go from being able to communicate with most of a community that I love from the bottom of my heart, to a night in a corner where I feel the most loneliest. It feels a bit like a cage. I'm grateful for friends that try to help me when I do go out, but honestly, as most of the community is based in this environment it means that I feel kind of pushed out of the community because well I pretty much can't do anything. If bright lights are taken away for me, this means that I try to focus on hearing to communicate, which is great but most LGBTQIAP+ friendly locations also have loud music going on so I just feel awkward and kind of numb and distant when out. The main ramblings that I'm trying to get at are that because of this, I just don't feel like I can be included even if I try my hardest, because well I'm struggling 10x more than if I'm out with a load of fully sighted, fully abled queer friends. I get that its not their fault, but also because of this, I feel like sometimes they distance themselves because they don't know how to handle or communicate with me due to me not being able to mingle and go off and talk to whoever by myself.

I'd love for this to change, I really do, but I realise that its going to take a lot, because well as shit as this sounds, unless you're visually impaired or disabled, then you don't really take notice of the implications of what being unaccessible truly means. I get that a rambling non sensical blog post won't do that, but I hope that if you read this mess, you just have a think about the community and everything as a whole. I get that buildings and establishments only have so much of a budget, but it would be nice to at least take people into consideration. It would be great if instead of saying you're accessible and it meaning, honestly, fuck all, it means using lifts for what they are and not storage cupboards, brighter lighting, and just understanding how everyday life can be a nightmare for some

I get that non bar based LGBTQIAP+ safe spaces exist. I've been to a fair couple including the amazing, Flamingo Coffee House within Leeds that is amazing, but also, the main two problems is that not everyone knows about them, or, that most LGBTQIAP+ people like to socialise at night which means that such wonderful places are closed. I just honestly, wish there was more accessibility or that the LGBTQIAP+ community as a while, realised that there are problems in place that stop everyone from actually enjoying themselves. The community is based on an ethos of being diverse and equality, but also at the same time, they're pretty much being a contradiction by not catering for those that aren't cis/abled/not what society or even the LGBTQUAP+ community deem as the norm which is kind of sucky at the end of the day.

When people think of the community, mist think about fitting into a tribe. It took a while, but I found mine in Leeds, and, I'm forever grateful. I kind of thought that I fitted into the bear tribe. For anyone who doesn't know what a bear is, urban dictionary defines bear as, 'A hairy and/or large gay man'. I guess this is more to do with body image, but a big problem that I have with the bear tribe within the community, is their constant fixation with body image. They have some other fixations/problems which I'll talk about later in the post but that's for later. When it comes to the notion of body image within the bear community, the notion of being plus sized is celebrated. Thats amazing, I think that we don't have enough celebration for plus sized people as a whole, but they focus on the biggest people. A fair amount of bears that I've followed have focuses on the concept of the bigger the better. Yes, from afar, this is great for body positivity, and that's not my problem, My problem is shunning anyone that isn't the biggest. It makes the whole community problematic. This goes for any part of the LGBTQIAP+ community. I'm too big for certain tribes, and too thin for other tribes, which means that the tribes don;'t really embrace me which then creates this notion of not feeling like I belong in the community in my head. I kind of hate it. It just defeats the point of actually being body positivite and kind of shows how problematic some people and some tribes within the LGBTQUAP+ community can be. I get that it might be a mental and personal thing to me, but it just makes interacting with people sometimes pointless, because you know that at the drop of a hat, they won't care because someone bigger will have come along... I don't really know how to explain it, but it just screams toxic to me, know? The community as I've said is about equality and whatnot and you're pretty much pitting people against each other to be bigger to get your attention and affection, and, for what, so you can drool over them? It's just, its stupid in my opinion. I already feel ugly on days about myself, and, then to just have it completely certified by people that I thought I was close to or that I know of by not wanting to talk to me in any way shape or form, because, well im not for them, just makes it ten times worse. Its honestly, why id rather just stick to myself sometimes. I get that, this sounds kind of 'antisocial' but it works for my mental health sometimes.

Following on from this, the LGBTQIAP+ community has a heavily influence of sex and honestly, I'm not really the biggest fan over it. I don't really grasp or like the concept of having everything boil down to a tap or pass. I get that the community also rely on specific dating apps to communicate and to get know people. I get that, but let's be real. dating apps are literally there for people to send random pictures of their junk. I realise this sounds bad and almost grumpy grandpa like, but I'd like to at least have a conversation before I randomly get sent stuff like that. I'm just sick of this societal norm, of, not even wanting to get to know someone yet the person who doesn't want to know you waits five minutes and then sends you a flood of pictures that you don't really want. It just makes me feel out of the community as a whole. Following on from this, the whole notion of being thirsty is a weird one that I'm not really in the loop of. I get the concept of being thirsty, but when it gets to the point of where all your social media is, is people being thirsty of everything and everyone then it just makes you feel weird and honestly depressed. It makes you feel like garbage because you can see everyone 'thirsting over everyone' and then you're in the corner thinking, the thirst for me is when I get to actually know someone. I realise that sounds cheesy but that's how my brain works. I'm sick of this whole concept of being so quick and straight to the point that we almost miss out actually feeling anything. I just don't get why sex has to be the main pivotal concept for us to all bond over. I mean doing this instantly forces people that aren't 'gagging for it' all the time into a sort of shame based box. It also means that we're pretty much excluding a part of the community that don't really care about sex when it comes to attraction which is another problematic point.

Furthermore, being non-bnary, kind of affects the whole concept of 'being thirsty'. It's kind of hard to be thirsty over anyone when your dysphoria is at the worse that it can possibly be. For those that don't know, I've identified as non-binary for many years now, and with that for me, comes with some form of body dysphoria. The fact I feel like I'm in the completely wrong body but at the same time, not feeling like any other body in the world would fix that. I realise it sounds stupid to most, but because I identify as pretty much being something that is outside the norm of being either male or female, it becomes hard to feel like you belong in society or that you belong in the right body at all, so having people around you talk about enjoying other bodies, its hard to get on board with that as a concept when you hate yourself so much in one day, that you just wished that you some form of bodiless voice that has a recurring role on Doctor Who. Again, I get that it sounds silly/stupid to most. I just, I just, I'd rather get to know people and I'd rather to get to know them in some way shape or form before just well objectifying them really. A photo doesn't do much for me anyways because well the whole vision thing and because I analyse most of my life, I instantly go into analysing the photo itself.

My final very rambly sort of point, goes back to the bear tribe to an extent. The bear tribe, well certain people within the tribe, can be very iffy when it comes to non-binary people which makes me feel even more eradicated from the community as a whole. I've had bears tell me that I'm not a real person, that I don't belong to be a part of the bear community and honestly worse things and it just makes me feel like I don't belong in this community as a while because I don't exactly fit in what they want when it comes to the bear tribe and it just sucks sometimes. Most do and I love that, I love how most embrace and accept but still its just sometimes those people can make you feel completely worthless in somewhere where society says you should feel welcome and comfortable within. I've also had people say that they're interested in me because of being non binary and that itself is problematic as well. I hate the concept of a chaser. Honestly, don't hunt me down because it's exotic and different in your opinion is kind of disgusting. Get to know people, instead of pretending to be interested in them romantically just so its something you can tick off a list.

Sorry that this is a rambly mess, and, I hope you can take something away from this, or that the LGBTQIAP+ community as a whole can discuss this openly.

Thanks for reading!
Jamie x 

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