An amazing pride weekend (pride parade! OITNB season 4!) is over, and the nice cosy celebration feeling is gone. For me, that means going back to feeling mediocre whenever someone brings up LGBT+ issues. (It will pass. I’m sure.) For example, I found myself complaining about a specific way the LGBT+ community is referred to in German. Since Orlando, there has been an unusual amount of media coverage on LGBT+ issues and I am annoyed by half of it – e.g., the premise shared by most articles I read that LGBT+ issues are first and foremost issues about sexuality.
Sure, if you are dealing with religious bigots and fanatic prudes, it is a very good idea to point out that those people might consider worrying less about other people’s genitals and what they do with them. The “criticism” that LGBT+ people face is, after all, very intrusive and always somehow linked to what is in our pants. But that does not mean that LGBT+ issues, as perceived from the inside, are only about that, too!
To be fair, the emphasis is sometimes shifted towards love (the “T” is already lost here, by the way). I have just read an extremely interesting article somewhere about why that might also be a bad idea. The point of the article was that this emphasis on love is sometimes used as a justification for something that we agree is wrong: As if everyone would agree that gay sex is somehow degenerate and weird, but for the sake of Love (with capital “L”), we might look the other way.
Since I read this, I can’t forget about it. I now realize that things would have been much easier for me, had I not put the emphasis on romantic love so much myself. I have been confused about some issues for a very long time now and I never really found a way to address them. Maybe that’s also because whenever I sat down to answer some questions, they actually felt like the wrong questions. Maybe it’s neither “What gender am I primarily sexually attracted to?” nor “What gender(s) can I be in love with?” that I need(ed) to deal with. Maybe it’s something much less spectacular. Maybe it’s just “Being who I am, how do I best relate to women, and how do I best relate to men?”.
For me (and maybe some others), that last question might be crucial. But it’s neither the fabric of a narrative about sexual liberation, nor does it make for the plot of a story about true love against all odds. It’s about relationships and gender, and it’s definitely a core LGBT issue (in the most literal sense: Maybe it’s a “B issue”. But I’m not sure.) But it doesn’t feel like an issue about sexual or romantic identity. It’s just an issue about identity.