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Editorial: A Call to Encourage Healthy Self-Exploration

The human psyche is an aberrant mesh of contradictions. It seeks comfort, yet craves spontaneity. It wants to be grounded, but needs to be set free. It is inquisitive, yet often fearful of the answers. With this in mind, perhaps it isn’t so difficult to come to terms with the fact that there are a plethora of areas of our psyche that many, if not all of us, repress.

There is so much of us that often goes untapped. I am positing that perhaps, collectively, as a species, we should be much more open-minded about sexuality, and gender/gender expression, among other things.

Although it is true that the minds of Americans today are still ruthlessly shaped into a superficial narrative, constructed and deconstructed by external forces that seek to preserve the status quo, the times are changing.

The Environment is Changing

We are finding that it is becoming easier to more maturely explore our identity as human beings. We no longer need to prove a point to the extent that we once did in times past. Even at the most basic level: the family unit, we can see that homophobia is dwindling, among other phobias faced by families of queer folk.

According to an article by George Gao of the Pew Research Center, most Americans, in a study done in 2015, said that learning that their child is gay would not upset them. “Three decades ago…” Gao wrote, “…most Americans felt it would be troubling to have a child tell them he or she was gay: In a 1985 Los Angeles Times survey, nine-in-ten American adults (89%) said they would be upset if this happened, and just 9% said they would not be.”

However, Gao wrote “…today [in 2015] nearly six-in-ten (57%) say they would not be upset if they had a child come out as gay or lesbian.”

It is reassuring to see that more and more young men and women who are coming out to their families about their internal discoveries are being accepted and treated fairly, but queer folk are still targeted to an alarming extent, more-so than any other minority group.

When looking at the data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it can be found that in 2014, L.G.B.T. people were twice as likely to be targeted for hate crimes than African Americans, and, according to a New York Times article written in 2016 by Hayeun Park and Iaryna Mykhyalyshyn, “Nearly a fifth of the 5,462 so-called single-bias hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. in 2014 were because of the target’s sexual orientation, or, in some cases, their perceived orientation.”

What I Believe…

This is not a matter of good vs. evil. This is a matter of fear vs. courage. To discover without apology, the many aspects of who you are, in a world that insists on fitting you into a cookie cutter mold, is not merely an act of bravery. It is the single most powerful way to evolve as a human being. Defiance against ignorance is growth to the highest degree. It is necessary.

But, that defiance must be grounded in perspective. Self-exploration must remain inquisitive, and not authoritative, or else it is all for naught. This is a juvenile error in judgement that can be seen being perpetuated by some of the more naive communities in the LGBTQ+ sector.

Claiming moral superiority over the very thing which is stunting your self exploration may feel empowering at first, but it can have a very adverse effect, not just on you, but your message, too. To fight for tolerance and understanding is not the same thing as enforcing the message and shoving it down the throats of both potential supporters and the intolerant.

Perhaps worthy of noting is Andrew Sullivan’s New York Times article titled, “The Gay Rights Movement is Undoing it’s Best Work,” that he wrote in 2018. Sullivan offered his opinion as to why it was that a new report from GLAAD was suggesting that there has been less comfort with gay equality across the nation.

The report said, “In 2014, for example, 27 percent of non-LGBT Americans said they would be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ uncomfortable looking at a wedding picture on an LGBT co-worker’s desk. The following year, that figure dipped to 25 percent. Now, it has returned to 27 percent.”

Sullivan noted that, although the rise of the Trump presidency has created a culture of tolerance for intolerance, there surely must be more to it than that.

“No one seems to notice the profound shift in the tone and substance of advocacy for gay equality in recent years,” he wrote, “… and the radicalization of the movement’s ideology and rhetoric.”

What needs to be understood here is that the civil rights movement had once fought against polarization. It’s rhetoric was grounded in tolerance and acceptance for the unlimited spectrum of human identity expression.

Now, we are seeing more communities embracing polarity and the ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality. I am positing the same thing as Sullivan. Since the supreme court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges. our goals have been largely met, but now the far left has begun to fill the void.

Sullivan wrote, “Live and let live” became: ‘If you don’t believe gender is nonbinary, you’re a bigot.’ I would be shocked if this sudden lurch in the message didn’t in some way negatively affect some straight people’s views of gays.”

Here Is My Two Cents…

It would be wise to avoid groups in the LGBTQ+ community who are too authoritative or militant in their approach. If they claim to know your identity better than you do, that is the first sign of destructive naivety. Instead, seek those who are humble.

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Surround yourself instead with people who are open in their belief systems and those who aim to encourage others who are a part of the LGBTQ+ sector to remain inquisitive. Live by the most basic values of the movement.

These include:

  • Instilling in the surrounding culture an educated understanding of queer folk
  • Encouraging tolerance for those who lead different lives
  • Having a goal of reaching widespread acceptance of the exploration of different aspects of the human psyche
  • Etc…

How to express and explore your identity in a healthy way

I cannot express enough how important it is to keep a cool head and to have perspective. The fear of not fitting in could lead a person to madness and despair, in which they may fall into a category that does not suit them. One of the saddest things that can happen to, for instance, a trans-individual, and there are numerous accounts of the following occurence, is sex-change regret. Click source here.

It is a hard pill to swallow, but when you realize that it is possible that a blooming social justice advocate can damage themselves just as much as the forces that they are fighting against, then the relation between self-discovery and the external forces seeking to repress it can be examined healthily, thereby without prejudice or bias.

It is easy to be swayed into destruction by good intentions. It is not so easy to realize that, unbeknownst to them or you, the people who care about you the most can be misguided and hurt you. That is why you must trust yourself and your own intuition. What it means to be you is your own discovery and yours alone.

Those who whimsically encourage you to fly into a world that could either make you or break you should be avoided. To become who you are is difficult. It is a delicate process that is always changing. As the mantra goes — be inquisitive and fly.

You can try things out, but never lose sight of the ground beneath your wings.

Perspective is vital.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.