Across the web these days, an increasingly common refrain from gays, lesbians and bisexuals is that we’re no longer being allowed to speak for ourselves. Instead, conversations within our movement are being led by “queer” (often straight), trans/genderqueer (often straight), and just plain straight people. These groups talk over us. They talk about us. They tell us what we should think about themselves and others.
In the past few years, I’ve heard comments like the following all too often:
- My campus LGBT group has been taken over by queer, pan, poly, genderfluid and asexual people – everyone but gays and lesbians.
- My LGBT club at work no longer talks about anything except trans issues.
- My LGBT community is dominated by men and leaves no room for women’s interests.
- There are no lesbian bars or book clubs left in my town.
- I’ve been berated by queer, pan, trans, or straight people for who I will and won’t consider dating.
- My comments on online news articles about LGBT issues are censored.
Queer, pan, trans, straight, asexual, allies and others have the right to their opinions, voices and interests. But we have the right to ours too. Where are we supposed to express ours when they’re being at best squeezed out and at worst declared unwelcome and censored within our own movement?
If you’re straight and you’ve been debating with LGB people about what they should think, consider shutting up and listening instead. This is not your movement. You are rightly incensed when white people speak for black people or men speak for women. So don’t declare yourself the expert when it comes to LGB matters. Try listening to the voices that emerge when you’re not making sure yours is the loudest.
If you’re LGB, and you have something to say, click the “Submit Your Story” button and tell us.